Owner Review

2011 BMW 1 Series 16i Urban Review

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I bought the BMW 116i for $37,500 drive away in September 2012. It was a demonstrator, advertised on CarSales.com as having 1500km on it, but when I rang the dealer I was told it only had 140km on it. I’m not sure why they advertise it with more kms, but I was happy with the low mileage.

The car was in the colour I wanted (Midnight Blue) and is the Urban line which just adds some trimmings, most notably the white grille which I liked and some blue lighting inside which I could live without. The iDrive is standard on the 1-series and this is an excellent interface and a noteworthy feature. I have also had a flat tyre in this car and the convenience of the run-flats cannot be overstated. But apart from that the car is relatively low on features. This is not a problem for me as I know how to park a car, I know when to turn the lights and wipers on, fog lights aren’t going to be used where I live, and I use my phone if I need SatNav, which is very rare.

The car drives beautifully, and most reviewers state that it is the best drive in its class, but probably not the best value. I’d agree with that, but it best met the criteria I had when looking for a new car and I absolutely love driving it. I should mention that I’m not a great driver.

I’m not experienced at handling a car at speed and tend to look after my cars and my license and haven’t had a speeding ticket since September 1990. What I really enjoy doing is tackling a winding road, but keeping within the speed limit, so lots of hairpins and tight corners and this car is wonderful in that environment.

The chassis could easily take more power, but for me the chassis and motor combination is ideal and keeps me out of trouble. The car is above my ability and I have had the ESC cut in on in me only twice and that was on some pretty patchy roads.

I have done just over 50,000km on it now and I haven’t had any issues with it whatsoever. It has conditioned based servicing but I ignore that. At 13,000km it said it still had another 17,000km before an oil change. That’s 30,000km without changing the oil! I looked at the oil and it looked dirty to me, so I’ve been getting the oil and oil filter changed every 10,000km.

I don’t use the long life BMW oil. My old Subaru guy did the first service for $200 but he couldn’t reset the service interval on the computer. Since then I’ve taken it to a BMW specialist and he charges $270 for the oil and oil filter. He’s done the air filter and brake fluid along with the oil and filter and that bill totaled $420. I’ve never been back to the dealer so I’m not sure what they would charge but I’ve heard stories they’re very expensive.

Even with 50,000km on it, the computer is telling me that the rear brakes won’t need replacing for another 45,000km and the front will go for another 90,000km. I typically put 95 RON in the tank and I have been getting the combined average of 5.7ltr/100km pretty much every tank.

It’s very, very good on fuel, but keep in mind I’m not the sort of person who flogs a car.

My major gripes with the car include the restricted room in the foot well, particularly with three pedals and the fact that you can’t see the bottom part of the instrument cluster through the steering wheel. Even after two years, both these things still bug me. I initially found it difficult to get in and out of the car, but I have adapted to that. I also didn’t like the dash to begin with, but I got used to that pretty quick too.

And yes, the headlights could be better shaped but I ain’t no oil painting myself.

Overall, I’m really glad I bought the BMW 116i. The fundamentals of the car, the motor, the handling, the ride and the steering are extremely well done and if the purpose of the 116i was to get people hooked on the BMW brand, then its’ doing a pretty good job on me.