BMW 118i M-sport – A review

Look & Feel

Had the pleasure of driving the BMW 118i m-sport over the weekend. Coming from a VW, most of the controls remain almost the same; headlight, turn signals, wiper controls, etc. The start-stop button, IMO, is just a fancy gimmick given that the ignition slot in modern cars no longer links directly to the starter motor with the vehicle’s ECU actually cranking up the engine. The leather seats and lower seating position were very comfortable and enhanced the car’s sporty feel. At first I worried that the lowered seating position and long bonnet will affect driving visibility but BMW have once again excelled with this combination without effects. The chunky steering wheel and precision also tops.

Driving dynamics

The car feels excellent to drive. The 6-speed short shift was smooth on the up-shift but I had some problems with the down-shifts. This is partly to blame on the excellent noise deadening which means I couldn’t really hear the engine to time my shifts correctly. The clutch and brake pedals were a bit too close for my liking but I finally adapted to their placement though I still believe that the clutch should be further away. The ride on this car is excellent, smoothing out bumps on the road without feeling squishy(Toyo-nation) and even with power to the rear wheels, it felt well balanced as long as you stuck to the limits of physics. It braked exceedingly good for its weight(1.8 tonnes) which is a good thing.

Power & Fuel

Fuel consumption was good. Even with a bit of thrashing, it wasn’t particularly thirsty. Power was however a sad affair. There isn’t much of it below 100kph and after that, it was an uphill struggle. Most irritating was its unwillingness to rev past 3000 rpm without having to shift back down again. This makes no sense for me. If I’m in 3rd, it will not rev to 4000 rpm. I have to shift up to 4th, gain some speed then shift back to 3rd to get into the 4000 rpm power band. Altitude sickness is a real malady for this engine, especially so since it’s naturally aspirated. Let’s just say I spent most of my time uphill on the climbing lane.

Would I buy one?

In conclusion, I think the platform is excellent but the choice of engine misplaced. If I had money to burn, I would instead opt for the 135i mostly because of the twin-scroll turbo charger. If not, then the 130i is a good compromise. Anything lower, and you’re just a BMW badge fanatic where the 3 and 5 series would serve your needs(read wants) better.