The tangerine thing
This January, a lot of people will be stomping out cigarettes, power-walking past bottle stores and straight to their nearest gym. I’m not sure what your new year’s resolutions are but one of mine was to be more accepting of change; and what better way to do so than with BMW’s new 1-Series Coupe.
The previous One Series seemed incomplete and strange to me, even when one of our previous test cars came fitted with just two doors and a crisp 2.5-litre petrol straight six. As luck would have it, this week I spent some time with the direct offspring of that vehicle – the new BMW 125i Coupe.
Its exterior looks are still a bit weird but the bulging nose and blunt bum have been toned down a bit, merged in the middle by stronger flowing lines and beautiful details. The only thing I’m not sure about is the mutant bottom eyelids; the rest of this car gets my thumbs up.
The interior is also rather more exciting and curvaceous when compared to older models, the swooping dashboard and good materials making up a classy, executive cabin. BMW’s trademark iDrive infotainment system, climate control, fat multi-function steering wheel, crisp dials and displays make sure of that.
…a standard 125i Coupe costs about N$336,000. Ours didn’t.
Before I go any further and write myself into a corner, I need to report that a standard 125i Coupe costs about N$336,000. Ours didn’t. Positively groaning under the load of options, the Valencia Orange Sport model you see before you has an asking price of N$521,079.50.
While this is absolutely ridiculous, you are not obliged to order all those garnishing features. BMW and its German rivals have always been a little stingy with their toys so this press demonstrator was simply loaded up to showcase what’s on offer. I imagine that it should also be a bit of a nightmare to sell on.
A stock-standard 125i Coupe comes with things like remote central locking, air-conditioning, power steering, power windows and mirrors, auto lights and wipers, keyless start with start/stop system, some leather trim, six airbags, ABS, cornering brake control and dynamic stability control, to name a few.
Optional extras fitted to our tangerine dream which I would recommend are sports seats (N$6,000), upgraded speakers (N$5,400-N$8,000), connectivity package (N$27,500), lights package (N$14,400), upgraded instruments (N$1,700) and Adaptive M running gear (N$11,600).
I’d be very interested what a manual 125i drives like but if my closest dealer only had one with this eight-speed automatic gearbox (N$18,000-N$20,100 extra), I wouldn’t exactly walk away from it. Linked to a brawny engine and very obedient drive response settings, this is a wonderful box of cogs.
I found the same engine/gearbox combination to be jerky and infuriating in the X1 2.8i while the 320i had more amicable and docile manners. This middle-of-the-range 160kW (218hp) and 310Nm iteration with its punchy response appears to be the best of the bunch, probably even more so in a sporty coupe body.
Ride and handling from the uprated M Sports Suspension (N$3,600 if not fitted) is deeply impressive, the small Bavarian being as comfortable as a luxury saloon while flying around corners with composure. The front end bounces a bit over bumps but steering response (N$5,400 upgrade) and grip levels are excellent.
It reaches 100km/h in 6.2 seconds (we achieved 6 flat)…
Plant your right foot and the 125i instantly rockets forward, even more so in Sport or Sport Plus modes, quickly swapping gears at 7,000rpm and only dropping about 2,000 revs to the next one. It reaches 100km/h in 6.2 seconds (we achieved 6 flat) and top speed is 243km/h.
Switch to Eco Pro mode and everything calms down to aid fuel efficiency. BMW claims an average of 6.4L/100km and although this may be possible, our real-world average was closer to 8.5. Average CO2 emissions are pinned at just under 150g/km.
Ignoring most of the cool gadgets fitted to our test unit, the deep orange BMW soon crept under our skins. Every passenger and almost every passer-by lingered a little longer to take another look at this car, some hastily mistaking it for the now-legendary 1M – probably because of the colour.
The car’s eager power plant and lively handling got universal approval while the only negative comments fell against cold-start engine sounds, road noise at highway speeds and a relatively small fuel tank (52L). High-speed cruising and overtaking are fantastic though and you can expect a long-distance range of around 650km.
BMW has to be applauded for improving almost every aspect of the 125i, including rear space which I sampled for a short while. The new car is lighter, quicker, safer, more efficient and clever than the old six cylinder it replaces and in keeping with my new year’s resolution, I’m delighted to embrace this change.
0-100m: 5.9s / 99.2km/h
0-200m: 9.1s / 122.3km/h
0-300m: 11.8s / 138.8km/h
0-400m: 14.2s / 152.2km/h
1/4mile: 14.3s @ 94.7mph (152.5km/h)
Climate Sunny, moderate breeze
Road Dry tarmac, level
Occupants Driver, no passengers
Fuel level 1/4