There is plenty of punch under the bonnet with the quick new diesel in the 125d.
Here is proof that a diesel-engined car can be sporty good fun. This is the most powerful diesel version of BMW’s 1-Series range, and it is certainly a lively performer. The 125d is only available in upper-crust M Sport trim, which is appropriate for the upgrade features that come with it: sports seats, firmed-up sports suspension and 18-inch alloy wheels.
The 125d, new on the scene for the summer of 2012, is a replacement for the old 123d in the previous 1-Series range. That car disappeared with the arrival of the new generation of BMW’s smallest model in 2011. The 125d’s engine is a new two-litre turbodiesel that is a recent addition to the BMW range and is also found in a version of the X1.
Although it is essentially a ‘hot’ hatch, the 125d benefits from some of the technology developed under BMW’s EfficientDynamics programme, and so has rather better fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions than you might otherwise expect. The six-speed manual version of the car costs £27,820, has 57.6 mpg fuel consumption and 129 g/km emissions. The 125d with eight-speed ZF automatic transmission we test here costs £29,310, has a 58.9 mpg combined figure and 127 g/km emissions.
There is also an equivalent petrol version, the 125i, priced at £26,070 for the manual and £27,560 for the auto. Fuel economy is around 15 mpg thirstier than the diesel model.
There is plenty of punch under the bonnet with the quick new diesel in the 125d. Its figures are 215 bhp of power output peaking at 4,400 rpm, and 332 lb ft of torque sustained from 1,500 to 2,500 rpm. With a 0-62 mph sprint time of just six and a half seconds, this is a very rapid car off the mark. That power output is 14 bhp greater than that of the old 123d this car replaces, and it is also notable for being 34 bhp above the next model down in the current 1-Series range, the 120d.
The engine pulls strongly but is also docile and flexible in traffic. It works extremely well in harness with the excellent eight-speed automatic transmission, which shifts smoothly and unobtrusively between ratios. There is a Sport mode that you can opt to use if you want a bit of extra alertness from the gearbox, shifting up or down more rapidly, but most of the time it isn’t really necessary.