Just when I thought the Summer couldn’t get any better, I had the opportunity to review one of the most comfortable cars I have ever driven in: the BMW 120i. However, what really drew me to the vehicle the most is BMW Connected Drive. (Of course, being the tech head I am, this all makes a lot of sense.)
SO, what’s so great about the BMW 120i?
For starters, the BMW 120i offers a very stylish and affordable vehicle for it’s class. It’s one of the most affordable BMWs you could own, starting at $36,990 and upwards of $64990 (depending on what mods and options you decide to go for).
Decidedly though, even at $36,990 the BMW would pack a punch.
The car I reviewed however was roughly in the middle of these ranges, as it had been spec’ed out with the following options (see here).
ABOUT the model I test drove (Urban Line):
The Urban Line is a comfortable middle ground if you’re looking to get a BMW hatchback, but you also want some comfort extras as well.
Urban Line versus other 120i variants
As far as the 1 Series goes, you have 4 petrol options & 1 diesel option.
The main major difference between the Petrol models (besides price-tag) is the number of cylinders/ capacity and overall power and torque.
Side by side in regards to engine and capacities; the 120i is very similar to the 125i, with difference being the 125i has slightly higher torque/power and is 1 second faster in acceleration from 0-100km/hr. It still has the same cylinder/capacity with TwinPower Turbo 4-cylinder in-line petrol engine & an 8-speed automatic transmission (as do all), with the exception of 125i & M140i that state they have 8-speed SPORT automatic transmission.
Then with each model there are slight differences on the specs that are included as stock standard.
*For more information on the car specifications for the BMW 120i Urban Line I borrowed, see here.
HOW did it drive?
With a twin-turbo and 8-speed transmission you’d expect the car to be able to handle quite well and comfortable. This was definitely the case. It handled steep inclines very well, without a sign of struggle and consistently smooth (in either ECO or Comfort Mode).
However, you definitely notice a difference when switching to Sports Mode, the drive requires a bit more effort on your part, and you can definitely feel a bit more feedback from the road through the wheel. Mind you, this isn’t a bad thing, that’s what Sports Mode is all about! It’s certainly fun to test out on winding roads, and even on the ramp to the freeway. Any point in which acceleration is needed, but when you’re coasting along you’re best to stick it in to ECO or Comfort to help reduce fuel consumption and increase general comfort again.
WHAT about the tech?
Well, this one is quite a big one, they have really kitted this car out. One thing I’d definitely recommend is if you get the car, make sure to set aside sometime on your first day to go through all the settings on the screen. SCROLL THROUGH EVERYTHING.
You’ll be surprised just how through the information is. For example, setting up driver profiles, syncing your phone, reading the manual, video instruction videos. There is easily hours worth of content! But don’t let that scare you, this just means that BMW has got you covered.
I particularly enjoyed watching the Animations, which explanations on what each function was. (When you review a number of different cars, you tend to find that different manufacturers describes things in their own way!)
Setting up driver profiles are cool because you can tailor it to exactly how you need it, and if there is someone else who drives the car they can do the same.
You can easily use voice control to request information or you can just use the scroll.
Some of the plethora of things you can adjust/ find:
- Auto-lock out
- You can set a time limit for how long the car takes to automatically lock the doors, whether you want the car to automatically lock after exit after a period of time etc
- Interior lighting (blue or orange)
- Can’t say no to a bit of mood lighting
- Tyre pressure
- Check your tyre pressure on screen before heading to the service station
- Guest-mode (driver profile)
- Not only can you create profiles, if you’re on the go, you can just switch to guest for drivers that aren’t permanent additions
- Weather & News
- Quickly hear the latest news, and scroll through available channels, check the weather for your location for the next 3 days
- Emails & Messages (synced with your phone)
- Optional, but can be done when setting up your phone, just click for what data you want shared with your car. Then you can have your messages read out to you, and can respond through the Voice Activation
- Trip Computer
- A detailed infographic on fuel economy, drive style & differences in the 3 modes.
- Drive style is an interesting one because it lets you know if you could be a better, more fuel efficient drive by rating you out of 5 stars
- A detailed infographic on fuel economy, drive style & differences in the 3 modes.
BUT how does tech & safety go together?
This is a pretty big one, with developing technology we want to try an ensure that cars super safe. With software this is able to happen so it’s really cool to see software playing a huge part in creating safety in new cars.
Things that are super handy to have in this car is:
- Driver Assistance
- Connected Drive
- Innovations Package
- And of course, the Safety Equipment that comes standard with all models (with slight variants on inclusions).
As with many cars on the market, there is a clear warning before you start the car to ensure you are using the technology sensible, ie, not while driving.
Now this makes total sense to me, but sometimes it’s easy to fall into that technology trap. PLUS there are definitely plenty of drivers who may abuse this, so I definitely appreciate the warnings. (The big thing around tech is that it is definitely very useful, when it’s used correctly…no matter what the device may be!)
It is clear that the BMW has safety at heart of all their vehicles, just by looking at the inclusions in the safety equipment alone says it all.
Additionally there are a bunch of options you can get on top, if safety is at your paramount.
With the car I reviewed, I felt there was definitely a comfortable amount of safety options. For me personally, I would try and get it kitted out to the absolute maximum for safety, but that’s more for my piece of mind more than anything.
As with any car, the fuel economy is truly dependent on the driver. When you’re test driving a car, you’re not exactly the average user of the vehicle so this means as standard the figures I’m going to see are far different to say a driver who has had 20 years experience, or a driver or is purely city or country driving.
For myself, I’m testing out each mode, and within the same tank of fuel, so that’s +1 variance. Then, I’m also doing city and country driving due to me living so far from civilization (okay maybe that’s an exaggeration), but far enough that if I want to visit the city it’s at least an 1 hour and 15 minutes drive. PLUS the traffic in the summer. (You get the gist.) The are A LOT of factors that contribute to the overall fuel economy.
Personally I found ECO mode to be the best to drive if you are concerned about fuel economy. I predominantly drove in this mode as I didn’t have any reason to drive in Sports Mode, except for when I was testing it out…(the traffic was far too congested and conditions weren’t safe to test it out at a lot of points…so it seemed redundant to put it in sports, to then be constantly slowing down and yet draining the car.)
When you compare the modes side by side, the difference is marginal, but again depends on so much so don’t take those numbers above as the hard and fast. Just what I experience as the driver behind the wheel.
WAS it comfortable?
Comfortable is an understatement, this car was extremely comfortable. I even had a sore back one of the days (due to a crappy night sleep in the disgusting heat of Melbourne).
Driving this car for two hours seemed to fix my back right up. Could be a number of things: 1: pure happiness from being behind the wheel 2: the hella comfortable leather seats that mould to your back.
Make of it what you will, I can confidently say, it’s very comfortable to drive.
SINCE it’s a hatchback, how did you find the storage?
Well, funny you should ask. I picked up the car just before Christmas… and since I had been in Japan for two weeks…I sort of left my Christmas shopping to the very last two days. (Yes I know, and yet every year, I do it…)
Anyhow, I took the BMW to IKEA to buy a bunch of odd and ends and the storage is pretty darn great. I particularly appreciate the storage nets the car comes with, they are a handy addition, especially when you have fragile items that you don’t want rolling freely in the boot.
As for the interior of the car, there is plenty of space in the console for two drinks as well as your glasses/sunglasses and the centre console opens so you can put your phone there too and some other small items. Not to forget the side storage in the door parcel area.
The glovebox seems quite small, but to be honest, I normally end up hoarding paper in my glovebox and never look at it ever again, so maybe small isn’t necessarily a bad thing in my case.
The seats also fold down, (one of my favourite things about hatch backs), so if you’re really keen on transporting that IKEA Coffee table, the BMW can definitely handle it.
The vehicle is also 5 doors, which means it is slightly larger than other hatchbacks. or example the AUDI A1 which is set at a similar price-range is quite a tight space compared to the BMW, which is far more spacious and space savvy.
If you are looking for a comfortable, affordable BMW then the 120i is definitely worth checking out. It is so easy to drive and get used to, plus I really appreciate how smooth it is on the road.
For example, when you’re going from a Japanese car (my personal car) to a BMW, it’s the little things you notice. Especially with the comfort packages and BMW Connected Drive, it’s a great car if you’re looking at being more efficient in your drive while also staying safe.
It’s always hard to say goodbye to a car, but I’m sure it won’t be forever.
Thank you to BMW GROUP for giving me the opportunity to review this car. As always, it has been a ball and I look forward to what BMW brings to the table in 2017.