of the 3-series and the insulation of the cabin was pretty impressive too. We did get a bit of road noise over coarse road surfaces though, but not too much. The big surprise, however, is the ride quality. Bumps are ridden over silently, the whacks from the suspension don’t filter though and comfort levels in the cabin are very good. BMW says it’s all down to improvements gained from the run-flat tyres and the fact that the suspension has been slightly softened and raised for Indian conditions. Whatever the case may be, this could be one of the best riding BMWs yet.
Another thing luxury car buyers want is technology and equipment, and the 1-series does not disappoint here. The petrol 116i is only available in the base trim, while the diesel 118d is additionally available in Sport Line and Sport Plus trims. We’re driving the top 118d Sport Plus, and it gets all the bells and whistles. There’s keyless go, two-zone automatic climate control, rear air-con vents, electric front seats with memory, BMW’s iDrive onboard computer, a sunroof, audio and phone controls on the steering wheel and Bluetooth, aux-in and USB connectivity. To help improve fuel economy, there’s a system that shuts off the engine when the car is stationary, and you can select from four different driving modes—Comfort, Sport, Sport+ and Eco Pro—which alter the way the engine, gearbox and steering behave. Finally, on the safety front, there are six airbags, ABS and electronic stability control. But you don’t get a spare tyre.
BMW missed out on the first-mover advantage with the 1-series. Still, it has an advantage here—the 1-series is focused on the driver; important in a segment where every owner is likely to drive their own car. You are likely to be shopping for something like a Honda Accord or a Skoda Superb rather than a compact luxury car if you want to be chauffeured around, after all. And it’s a real driver’s car, this one. Reasonably quick, beautifully balanced and an absolute joy from behind the wheel, the 1-series gives you the full BMW experience in a compact and relatively affordable package—it is priced from R20.90-29.90 lakh. Yes, its left-field looks are unlikely to appeal to everyone and other competitors may have a bit more space in the rear, but in areas that count, the new 1-series is super competitive. You’d be crazy not to test drive