• Fantastic steering, good handling, stiff body, decent quality, quiet, efficient and smooth drivetrain
  • Rear legroom, acceleration doesn\'t match dynamics

7 / 10

BMW 1 Series Convertible Review & Road Test
BMW 1 Series Convertible Review & Road Test
BMW 1 Series Convertible Review & Road Test

BMW 1 Series Convertible Review & Road Test

As close as you can get to a convertible Prius – but a whole lot nicer

Model Tested:

  • 2010 BMW 118d Convertible; 2.0 litre, four cylinder, turbo-diesel; six-speed manual; two-door convertible: $52,900*

CarAdvice Rating:

If your environmental conscience hasn’t been tickled lately, then you’re probably not living in Australia. Carbon tax looks like it’s coming, or at least that’s what Green groups are pushing for. The Gillard government is evaluating the tax, or an Emissions Trading Scheme; along with either, the car will be demonised, so anyone who wants to drive anything that is somewhat enjoyable is frowned upon. Enter BMW and its EfficientDynamics programme.

The thrust of it is simple – use less fuel, have more fun. You don’t need a hybrid to be frugal. We’ve already seen ED applied in our road tests of the 330d Convertible, the 123d Coupe, the 320d Estate and the BMW X1 xdrive20d. But even more frugal than all of these is BMW’s 118d Convertible. Actually, it’s the most fuel efficient convertible in the BMW Group’s stable.

BMW 1 Series Convertible Review & Road Test
BMW 1 Series Convertible Review & Road Test
BMW 1 Series Convertible Review & Road Test
BMW 1 Series Convertible Review & Road Test

The fact that it’s rear-wheel-drive already puts it on the front foot dynamically. It means less interference with the steering compared with front-wheel-drives, meaning the first corner you take will make you feel right at home behind the wheel.

BMW 1 Series Convertible Review & Road Test
BMW 1 Series Convertible Review & Road Test
BMW 1 Series Convertible Review & Road Test
BMW 1 Series Convertible Review & Road Test

The weight and immediacy of response from the steering is just sublime, even if actual feel is a little toned down. Even just a millimetre off centre and the car obeys, making it seem almost go-kart-like, plus it just gets better with speed when the power assistance lessens.

Helping the feeling is very good handling, with a neutral stance even from turn in. It’s also extremely stiff, with virtually no scuttle shake – that wobbly feeling afflicting most convertibles when you hit a bump. That allows a degree of firmness for the suspension, aiding good roadholding.

It doesn’t mean the ride is uncomfortable, but rather it has a decent mix of compliance and stiffness, even on its runflat tyres. Its grip is also excellent, even in wet conditions – probably because it’s not the most powerful motor around – so you won’t be sliding around, uncontrolled. And if you do happen to break traction, the ESC (known as DSC in BMWs) allows a small degree of slip without clamping down like an overzealous traction Nazi, but rather it brings you back in line, subtly and effectively.

Don’t expect blinding pace, though. With only 105kW and 300Nm on tap, let’s be honest, the 118d Convertible is not an overly quick car. It has more of a relaxed feel, what with its lag-free power delivery and all. Its 0-100km/h time of 9.5 seconds tells the story. But don’t let that put you off. Because it’s a diesel, its midrange is strong. From a tick over 1500rpm to 3000rpm it pulls nice and strong, so it feels a fair bit quicker than its figures suggest, while still keeping relatively quiet. Like all BMW diesel-fours, it’s chattery at idle, but while crusing and even under acceleration it’s smooth, sounds decent and remains efficient.

BMW 1 Series Convertible Review & Road Test
BMW 1 Series Convertible Review & Road Test
BMW 1 Series Convertible Review & Road Test
BMW 1 Series Convertible Review & Road Test

How efficient? As they used to say on the Curiosity Show, “I’m glad you asked.” ADR testing revealed an average fuel consumption of just 4.9 litres/100km. Its inclusion in the EfficientDynamics programme sees the 118d Convertible manual receive automatic start-stop, regenerative braking and optimum shift-point indicator, helping to keep fuel use low. The best part, though, is how little CO2 it emits. At 129g/km it scores an 8 out of 10 on the government’s Green Vehicle Guide website.

Compare it with some convertibles around the same price: The Volkswagen Eos is at best 5.8 L/100km putting out 153g/km, while Peugeot’s 308CC is a whopping 7.0L/100km and 185g/km in comparison. Curiously, Audi doesn’t offer a diesel Audi A3 convertible, so the lowest emitting version creates 159g/km and consumes 7.6L/100km of 98RON. In contrast with its competitors, this is the best convertible to drive – by a long shot. But it’s also the closest thing to a convertible Prius, from a purely environmental point-of-view.

However, it’s a whole lot nicer than a Toyota Prius inside. Swooping interior lines, altogether brilliant front seats and a decently built cabin means it’s off to a good start. On the stereo there are eight “favourites” buttons which are programmable with everything from radio stations to navigation destinations. To identify them simply run your finger over them and the preset displays on the satnav screen – they’re touch sensitive, so you don’t need to fully press them to reveal the favourite settings. The stereo itself is very clear and bassy, while above it sits the climate control which adjusts to whether the roof is stowed away.

BMW 1 Series Convertible Review & Road Test
BMW 1 Series Convertible Review & Road Test
BMW 1 Series Convertible Review & Road Test
BMW 1 Series Convertible Review & Road Test

BMW has also intelligently given the seat heaters a memory function so that in cold weather, once you switch the car off, even after a few minutes of being off, the seat heaters will come back on once the car is started; a handy feature for hopping in and out of the car quite often. There’s not a lot of storage inside the cabin and you’ll have to make do with one cupholder, located under the central armrest, although the glovebox is a decent size. The rear seats are well shaped, but it’s a pity that there is zero leg room, making them all but useless.

The boot, though, is very well shaped, so that it’ll hold more practicably than the 3 Series Convertible when each has their roof down. In fact, you only lose 45 litres between roof up and roof down, while the depth and width make loading light luggage a breeze. The canvas folding top does a fantastic job of insulating against the weather, but most of all, sound. It’s impressively quiet with the roof up, even at freeway speeds. Road noise is more intrusive than noise through the roof, but not overly so.

Apart from the rear legroom, there are a couple of niggles. The rear view mirror is a little on the small side for visibility, its oval shape making you rely more on the two outboard mirrors for watching around you. Another gripe is the cramped footwells, more-so a problem in manual specced cars where your left foot can brush the clutch pedal every time you place it on the footrest.

But if it means that wonderfully involving balance and the brilliant steering for every time you sunk the roof and cranked up the heaters for a crisp night drive, then it’s a relatively small price to pay. Mind you, so is the purchase price. You won’t find a cheaper four-seat, rear-wheel-drive convertible on sale today. Add to that the remarkably efficient diesel engine and you’ve got yourself a great package.

BMW 1 Series Convertible Review & Road Test
BMW 1 Series Convertible Review & Road Test
BMW 1 Series Convertible Review & Road Test
BMW 1 Series Convertible Review & Road Test

If you love driving and you love salving your green conscience, then the 118d Convertible should be firmly at the top of your shopping list.


CarAdvice Overall Rating:
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How does it Go:

*Pricing is a guide as recommended to us by the manufacturer and does not include dealer delivery, on-road or statutory charges.

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BMW 1 Series Convertible Review & Road Test
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  • nickdl

    Can you please tell us how much it costed as tested?

    There’s no way that cost less than $60k on road with all the expensive BMW options.

    • Micky

      It’s disappointing that you have to pay extra for electric seats on the 118d, and even on the 125i. You also only get a single-CD, so you have to then pay extra for a better stereo. Xenons cost extra, as do heated seats. And of course the biggest rip off of all – the metallic paint! Which this test car has, but personally I think the best colours are the non-metallic shades (white, black, and red).

      • nickdl

        I’m pretty sure black is a metallic colour. It is on most makes. They’re too expensive on BMW but they’re likely to last far longer than most other makes. I watched a documentary on the making of the Z4 and it spent about half the time in the paint shop.

        • Micky

          They have 2 blacks – one is solid, and the other metallic. Personally I don’t think the metallic is worth the extra 2 grand or whatever BMW charge for it.

  • Micky

    I considered a 125i convertible when I was looking for a new car a few months ago. The 3.0L straight six seems like a sweet engine, but the $65k price tag somehow managed to escalate to $77k on-road once the dealer added it all up (and that’s WITHOUT options!). Forget it, I said, $77k on a car that size, as good as it may be, is just way too much. (I would not even consider the 120i convertible due to the pitiful engine).

    • oneill

      I bought my 135, no options, for 75K + on roads. You need to learn how to haggle!

      • oneill

        Sorry, that should say including on roads

        • Micky

          Is that coupe or convertible? Manual or auto? I was looking for an auto convertible. The RRP for the 135i auto convertible is over $83,000 – which would bring it to over $90,000 including on-road costs. There’s no way in hell you got it for $75k on road.

          • Beemer fan

            I bought a 125i coupe with xenon and electric seats as options – $61k on the road

  • Shak

    I know ill get thumbs down for this, but the only real reason you buy this BMW is for its supposed dynamic one upmanship, but with that price is it really worth it? Why not go the Mazda 3 route and get a fully loaded SP25 or even an MPS. I know its not really the same thing, but even with its smiley face it looks better, gets better mileage, is better equipped, and is much cheaper.

    • Shak

      Oh and they dont charge for Metallic paint !!!

      • Micky

        Actually it’s not that Mazda don’t charge extra for it, it’s just that they don’t offer any solid non-metallic colours. So they simply CAN’T charge for something they don’t offer. If they could, they would.

  • Gene

    Comment police is at it again! What happened to the comment re MX-5?

  • Mitchell

    Good to hear the Germans aren’t shipping traction Nazi’s with their cars…

  • pszilard

    I also love the Mazda, however it is strctly a 2 seater. For me it has to be a 2+2 or 4 seater so I can put a bag or a dog in the rear. Biggest competition to the lower end BMW convertible would be the VW convertible.

BMW 1 Series Specs

Car Details
E87 MY09
Body Type
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
Engine Size
Max. Torque
300Nm @  1750rpm
Max. Power
105kW @  4000rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
Bore & Stroke
Compression Ratio
Valve Gear
Drivetrain Specifications
Drive Type
Final Drive Ratio
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
Fuel Tank Capacity
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
5.4L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Ground Clearance
Towing Capacity
Brake:1200  Unbrake:690
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
Turning Circle
Front Rim Size
Rear Rim Size
Front Tyres
205/50 R17
Rear Tyres
205/50 R17
Wheel Base
Front Track
Rear Track
Front Brakes
Rear Brakes
Standard Features
Automatic Air Con / Climate Control
Control & Handling
17 Inch Alloy Wheels, Electronic Brake Force Distribution, Traction Control System
Cruise Control, Leather Steering Wheel, Power Steering, Trip Computer
Radio CD with 6 Speakers
Fog Lights - Front, Power Mirrors
Cloth Trim, Power Windows
Dual Airbag Package, Anti-lock Braking, Head Airbags, Seatbelts - Pre-tensioners Front Seats, Side Front Air Bags
Central Locking Remote Control, Engine Immobiliser
Optional Features
Power front seats, Power Sunroof
Control & Handling
18 Inch Alloy Wheels, Sports Suspension
Satellite Navigation
Premium Sound System
Metallic Paint, M Sport Package II, Xenon Headlights
Leather Upholstery
Alarm System/Remote Anti Theft
Service Interval
12 months /  25,000 kms
36 months /  999,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
Country of Origin