New lights and a reshaped grille have helped BMW’s 1 Series shed its sometimes ungainly appearance but, for fleets, the most significant changes are under the bonnet.
Following a midlife refresh, the lower premium car is now available with a range of new three- and four-cylinder diesel engines which offer greater efficiency than their predecessors: up to 12% in some cases, says BMW.
These are available as either a 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit in three different states of tune, producing from 150hp to 224hp, or, of more interest to fleets, a three-cylinder 1.5-litre engine which has already been seen in the Mini Cooper D.
This produces 116hp and, in the 116d SE, offers an official combined fuel economy of 78.5mpg and CO2 emissions of 94g/km. It matches the power output of its four-cylinder predecessor, but improves on the outgoing EfficientDynamics model’s efficiency of 99g/km and 74.3mpg.
However, for another £850, the 116d EfficientDynamics Plus – the car on test here – increases efficiency to 83.1 mpg and 89g/km through additional aerodynamic measures such as specially-designed grille bars.
Also included in the price premium over the 116d SE are rear parking sensors. These are in addition to SE standard equipment, which includes digital radio, air-conditioning, 16-inch alloy wheels, a 6.5-inch control display, Bluetooth connectivity and automatic lights and wipers.
Other standard equipment includes a SIM card embedded in the car as a mobile phone connection is required to make use of the standard Intelligent Emergency Call and BMW Teleservices functions, as well as the optional internet-based services.
From September, sat-nav will be also standard on all BMW models.
With this level of equipment and the interior trim updates, which include chrome surrounds around air vents and radio controls, as well as a new cloth fabric for its seats, the 116d EfficientDynamics Plus doesn’t look like a pared-down economy model, and this feeling extends on the road.
The 1.5-litre engine is slightly less refined than its four-cylinder siblings, but its distinctive three-cylinder note is far from intrusive or unpleasant. It’s a punchy performer and 199lb-ft of torque ensures it pulls well from low engine speeds. It is available only with a six-speed manual gearbox, but this is little hardship as it shifts precisely and easily.
Our test route consisted of a variety of roads, and the car felt balanced and composed throughout, while the steering had a positive feel. Interior space is unchanged from the pre-facelifted model, which means room in the rear is adequate, although tall passengers may feel cramped.
BMW expects to register around 30,000 1 Series models in its first full year, one-third of which will be corporate sales, and the 116d EfficientDynamics Plus has all the qualities needed to help the manufacturer hit this mark.