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by Tim Beissmann

The sporty new BMW 125i could take its place at the top of BMW Australia’s small hatch range as early as this year.

BMW Australia’s Scott Croaker says the 125i hatch is a “very good chance” to join the local line-up following its unveiling at next month’s Geneva motor show.

Croaker described the 160kW/310Nm hatch as a “good range-topper” for the local 1-Series line-up, confirming it is under consideration for a 2012 launch and admitting it is a vehicle the local brand is keen to move on “sooner rather than later”.

The 125i’s 2.0-litre turbocharged engine hits peak power at 5000rpm and delivers peak torque across a remarkably broad 1350-4800rpm range. The six-speed manual variant accelerates from 0-100km/h in 6.4 seconds and has a top speed of 245km/h. The optional eight-speed auto trails marginally at 6.5 seconds and 243km/h respectively.

Despite the sharp performance, the manual uses 6.6 litres of fuel per 100km on the combined cycle, and the auto is even more efficient at 6.4L/100km.

Full equipment levels will be outlined at Geneva.

For those who can’t wait to get their hands on a hotted up 1-Series, BMW is launching the M Sports package for the hatch range. The package will be available on the 118i and 118d models in Australia, although the entry-level 116i may miss out. BMW Australia will confirm availability details in the coming weeks.

The M Sports package includes tighter spring and shock absorber settings and harder anti-roll bars, with the suspension lowered by 10mm compared with the standard car.

Naturally, the M Sports package features a number of aerodynamic enhancements, with the front, sides and rear all benefitting from design revisions, giving the hatch a sportier appearance. Double-spoke 17- or 18-inch M light alloy wheels come standard depending on the specification level.

Inside, the 1-Series M Sports package adds aluminium doorsill strips, multifunction M leather steering wheel, M footrest and gearshift lever, anthracite/alcantara front sports seats, red-accent instrument cluster and matt or high-gloss black trim inserts.

The 125i comes standard with the M Sports package. Pricing for the M Sports pack for the rest of the range will be confirmed closer to local availability.

The 125i will be joined at Geneva by a high-performance diesel model. The 125d hatch matches the petrol model’s 160kW peak power output, but trumps it with an extra 100Nm of torque, with 450Nm available from 1500-2500rpm. Both transmission options race from 0-100km/h in 6.5 seconds, yet both use less than 5.0L/100km on the combined cycle.

Despite this, Croaker says BMW Australia is not considering the 125d at this stage, insisting the local homologation work required and the low anticipated demand mean it is not a viable option for our market at this stage.

BMW Australia is also currently evaluating the new M Performance Power Kit for its 320d and 520d sedan models. The kit – part of BMW’s new M Performance accessories program that launches at Geneva – comprises software and hardware upgrades for the cars’ 2.0-litre four-cylinder diesel engine.

With the kit, power increases 12kW to 147kW and torque rises 40Nm to 420Nm (available from 1750rpm). Best of all, BMW says the M Performance Power Kit improves sprint times significantly but does not have an impact on fuel economy.

A similar M Performance Power Kit is also planned for BMW’s petrol engines.

Other features from the BMW M Performance accessories program – including suspension, aerodynamics, and exterior and interior elements – will also be launched for 1-Series, 3-Series and 5-Series models.

Croaker said a selection of the new accessories would be available to Australian customers closer to the middle of the year. Click the gallery tab at the top of the story for all the pictures.




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