Blog: Dave LeggettBMW 1 Series 'mild-hybrid'

Dave Leggett | 7 September 2007

I've been driving the diddy Beamer - 1 Series, 120d to be precise - this week. Some impressions. I don't like the styling. I just can't get along with the way it looks and it's not that I have anything against Bangle designs in principle. It just looks kind of stunted with a chopped off rear end. It handles well, as you'd expect (BMW RWD etc) though you get a hard ride. With a 2-litre diesel, it certainly goes - the torque makes going up hills (flew up Bird Lip hill in Gloucestershire yesterday) effortless.

Inside it's just a little cramped - at least that's the feeling I had. And my left foot was slightly catching the side of the footwell when I pressed the clutch pedal down (I don't think I have big feet and it's unusual to experience this; one suspicion with this sort of thing is that it is something to do with the RHD version of the car).

One thing that I did like: it's a mild-hybrid stuffed with energy saving technology like regenerative braking and start-stop. Start-stop would make it very good around town. You soon get used to the engine cutting out at the lights and then starting up as if by magic. How many cars will be getting this so-called mild-hybrid technology ultimately I wonder (Citroen also has it on its small cars)? If it saves on fuel consumption and CO2 where are the drawbacks? No need for two powertrains along with the implied weight/cost penalty associated with full hybrids that have two powertrains. Why aren't more firms going down this mild route? Maybe it's cost.

Back to the 1 Series. It seems expensive for what it is, but I guess it will fit the needs of some people. I'd rather have a used 3 Series for the same money or get a Golf/Astra/Focus equivalent for less I think. To be fair to BMW though, I guess they had to make it distinctive from similarly sized cars and it certainly is that. And with so much shared with the 3 (about 60% of parts) it must be relatively cheap to make, even with the mild-hybrid tech added in.


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