The 116d EfficientDynamics Plus model is the eco champ of the improved 1 Series range. Jonathan Crouch takes a look.
Ten Second Review
With its 89g/km carbon dioxide emissions and 83.1mpg economy figure, the BMW 116d EfficientDynamics Plus is a remarkable piece of engineering. Although it won't be for everyone, it's easy to see how this ingenuity is going to translate into serious sales.
As much as it hurts to say, a car's straight line performance is becoming an irrelevance when most people choose to buy cars. Leaf through car magazines of a certain vintage and the ads would be stuffed with 0-60 times and horsepower figures. Speed was sexy. If you didn't have some big power under your bonnet, you'd failed somewhere along the line. How things have changed. These ads seem like dinosaurs now, macho posturing from a chest wig era when 'Turbo' was even a brand of cheap aftershave. Nowadays manufacturers push a more environmentally responsible agenda, and few are quite as adept as BMW, self-styled manufacturers of the 'Ultimate Driving Machine'. Hyperbole only gets you so far, but BMW's 116d EfficientDynamics Plus is a car that makes all the right numbers. With its headline 89g/km carbon dioxide emission, this 1 Series is certain to prove popular.
As you might expect, the 116d marks the entry level point in the 1 Series diesel range, but the EfficientDynamics Plus model is separate from the standard 116d, bringing with it a raft of fuel saving extras. Both variants now get the 1.5-litre three cylinder diesel originally developed for the MINI Hatch. For what it's worth, this 116bhp unit will make 62mph from standstill in 10.3 seconds and run onto a top speed of around 125mph, so while it isn't concussively quick, it's in no danger of getting in the way of its own shadow. The 1 Series has always been distinguished by the quality of its driving dynamics and it's good to see that BMW hasn't been tempted to compromise on its principles. The chassis balance remains as good as ever but a wider track (51mm at the front and 71mm at the rear) than its predecessor makes this car even more planted through corners.
Design and Build
This revised 2nd generation 1 Series model features subtle but key differences to refine yet further the overall package. At the front, a new lower apron with larger air intakes and a horizontal bar combines with reshaped BMW kidney grilles and new headlamps that feature LED daytime driving lights as standard on all models. Otherwise, things are as before. One consequence of running a transmission tunnel through what has been a rather compact hatch has been rather compromised accommodation but since this MK2 1 Series was originally launched, things have improved in that respect. Inside, there's more storage space than you might expect, with large front door pockets, two cup holders on the centre console and a roomy glove compartment. Out back, there's 360-litres of luggage space. Fold the 60/40 split rear seats flat and this can be increased to a maximum of 1,200-litres. Build quality seems to have improved as well, with more substantial plastics used throughout. BMW's much-improved iDrive system features and includes a high definition 6.5 inch flat screen. The shark-nosed exterior styling takes a bit of getting used to, but most would agree that the profile now looks a lot cleaner.
Market and Model
The 116d EfficientDynamics Plus model costs around £22,500, around £800 more than the standard 116d variant. The premium is all about its energy saving kit. This includes an Auto Start-Stop function and the ECO PRO mode, activated using the Drive Performance Control (included as standard), which is a new feature on BMWs that adjusts various on-board systems to maximise efficiency. When in ECO PRO mode the throttle response is adjusted to encourage a more economical driving style. The extra economy created in ECO PRO mode is fed back to the driver, with the in-car displays showing the additional number of miles achieved. BMW's entry-level trims have never been particularly well appointed but the latest 1 Series isn't too bad in this regard. Expect to find satin silver interior trim and Move cloth seats, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, chrome exhaust and keyless start.
Cost of Ownership
It's fair to say that when it comes to eking fuel economy out of surprisingly perky cars, nobody does it better than BMW. No car manufacturer has made quite such impressive progress as BMW in the field of improving efficiency and the 116d's 89g/km carbon dioxide emissions figure is better than that of vehicles like the 1.3-litre Toyota iQ or the 1.0-litre Citroen C1. That it is a far bigger, quicker and heavier car only serves to underscore quite how good BMW is at this sort of thing. Fuel economy is rated at 83.1mpg which, when coupled with the car's 55-litre fuel tank gives an effective range of 900 miles. Suddenly the concept of only visiting the filling station once a month appears distinctly appealing. Exemption from the London congestion charge is another key benefit (for some at least) and unlike some eco cars that are clearly designed as company car tax workarounds, the 116d EfficientDynamics looks equally attractive to private buyers who want a smart new car with strong residual values but want to keep a cap on ongoing costs.
As impressive as the BMW 116d EfficentDynamics' economy figures are, there will always be people who decide that this is a car that is neither very cheap, very much fun nor very pretty. They'd have a point. If you can live with the looks, many will feel that speed off the mark is something they'd willingly sacrifice for better efficiency. The final point of cost is partly answered by the BMW's beefy residual values which drive down the overall cost of ownership and also by the fact that cheaper alternatives aren't usually considered rivals on the basis of badge equity. Even when choosing eco cars, people are swayed by notions of style and prestige. With its 99g/km emissions and 74.3mpg fuel economy, the 116d EffiicientDynamics is a masterpiece of engineering and one that deserves to rack up some big sales figures. The idea of having a car that makes journeys cheap is enormously appealing. The car should be all about enabling our lifestyle choices. Here's one that performs that task quite brilliantly.