AM Online

BMW 116i SE – on sale now



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Three months ago AM described the BMW 116i as a “gutsy performer that will show most rivals a clean pair of heels”. That was after a 30-minute blast on the 1-series launch. Now 700 miles and seven days later we are in a better position to comment on the car’s attributes. So do we still think this 1.6-litre engine deserves a BMW badge?

Well, the car faced criticism from, among others, Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson on the lack of punch. To emphasis the 0-62mph time he stood watch in hand waiting for 10 seconds to pass.

And, yes, do that and 10 seconds does seem a long time. But for a 1.6-litre engine? We can think of a few 1.8-litre engines that struggle to match that sprint time, and certainly the A3 and Golf are comparable.

The 116i is a strong entry point for the brand, and one that will impress prospective buyers on test drives – it lays down a challenge to top spec 1.8-litre Focus or Megane.

BMW calls the 1-series “premium, but within budget”. Dealers can expect to see younger customers and more women in the showroom, as the entry level is likely to take up to 30% of next year’s 17,000 UK sales. Fleets will be attracted by the competitive running costs, around 50p per mile – just a few pence higher than its mass market rivals.

Owners get the superb road holding capabilities, the sharp turn-in and agility enjoyed in the 116i as the rest of the range.

But BMW’s determination not to compromise on ride and handling – it insists the 1-series must meet the same brand values as a 6-series – means a firm chassis that might put off some long distance drivers. It’s not the comfiest mileage muncher, but this is a BMW, not a Compact compromise.

Strengths: Gutsy 1.6 engine, sporty ride/handling
Weaknesses: Firm chassis not for everyone
Opportunities: Younger buyers, more women
Threats: Active sector – new A3 Sportback, Focus.
The USP: An affordable BMW
Price: £15,690, £17,640 (SE)
Engine: 1.6-litre 115bhp@ 6,000rpm; 150Nm@ 4,300rpm
Transmission: 5sp man
Performance: 0-62mph 10.8; top speed 125mph
Efficiency: 37.7mpg; 181g/km CO2
CAP RV (3yr/30k): £9,150 (52%)
Rivals: A3 Sportback, A-class, Golf; high end Focus, Megane, Civic

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