When looking for a new car last year, the last place I expected to end up was at a BMW dealership.
Having always been an Audi fan, my first stop was to test drive an S3, followed by a Golf R. While both cars are good, they were both extremely fast and more expensive than what cash I was prepared to part with.
Next on the list was the Merc A250 and the Golf GTI. Of those two, the Golf was the better driver's car (more engaging and a better ride), however just as the Dieselgate fugue was hitting the fan, I was left second guessing my choices.
So I decided to take the BMW 125i for a test drive just to see what it was like, and immediately realised what I had been missing in my life.
An amazingly tractable engine, great handling and compliant ride when just cruising, even with the lack of adaptive suspension. Instead, mine has the M-Sport suspension setup.
I was shocked when BMW was willing to sell one brand-new, off the boat, for less than VW would accept after negotiation for a base Golf GTI with DSG and no options.
And after even more haggling, BMW even threw in five years of free servicing and leather interior for no extra cost. Better still, BMW came down even further in price to low $40Ks, drive-away. The LCI model also included the M Sport pack at no additional cost, setting the car up with the same suspension and brakes from the M135i.
Needless to say i was sold and it has been a joy to drive ever since. I have had zero problems to date, other than deciding which road to take a drive down on the weekend.
The car has been highly practical and easily fits four people for short trips with enough knee-room (I'm 5'10").
The only improvements I would recommend is optioning the HK sound system and the adaptive dampers, just to iron out some of the minor bumps.
The only dislike I have about the car is the BMW factory power kit is not available in Australia with the ZF auto, and that the M Sport exhaust is also not available due to homologation issues. I've considered going custom 'catback' with the exhaust, but would rather keep my warranty for now.
Otherwise, this car has been amazing for a hatchback, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend anyone to go test drive one. The premium for the Bimmer badge is not as much (or as little) as you might expect!