it makes compares well with the A-class’s 107bhp and even the Volvo’s 148bhp. What helps it eke out an advantage, however, is the eight-speed automatic gearbox. While the motor isn’t as spiky or punchy initially as, say, the Volvo, it pulls and pulls all the way to 4,700rpm. So, performance is pretty effective as the engine is always pulling hard. Whichever way you look at it, there’s little doubt that the driving experience is up there with the larger cars from BMW.
The new 1-series is also pretty refined. The diesel seems to be smoother than the one under the hood 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