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Motoring: BMW 1-series affordable luxury

Nauman Farooq | Interrobang | Sports | November 3rd, 2008



Last week, I talked all about the new BMW M3 and the 650i coupe. Both were great cars, only one was greater than the other.

However, this week I am here to tell you, that you don't have to be very rich to enjoy a great BMW, in fact you can get into a new BMW for less than ever before.

The new BMW 1-series starts at just $33,900. For that amount you get a 128i coupe, which is all the car you would need for daily use.

The 128i has a detuned, 3-litre in-line six cylinder engine that produces 230hp and an incredible 200 lb/ft of torque.

Mated to a great six-speed manual gearbox as in my test car (automatic also available), this little car surely turned out to be a lot of fun to drive.

Not only does it have more than ample straight-line performance, it also handles very well. This is a proper BMW and they did not cheapen the experience just because this is not an expensive car. This feels like all BMW's do; poised and balanced.

One thing BMW is now doing better than ever is their ride comfort. BMW's have a reputation for making great handling cars, but their rides always seemed a bit choppy to me, but not anymore. Despite this 1-series being a short-wheelbase car, it rides exceptionally well, and somehow still handles twisty roads like it's on rails.

So I loved driving this car, even more than I liked looking at it, which is quite a feat because I love the way it looks. There have been a few questionable BMW's in the past, but the 1-series does look great from all angles.

The same goes for the interior, it looks great and on top of it having all the amenities one expects from a luxury car manufacturer, BMW has given you a spacious and comfortable interior too go along with a simply enormous trunk.

So by this point you must be thinking, its a good looking car with a good interior, that drives well and is priced well, so case closed.

Well actually, you can open this case right up by buying the convertible version. The convertible 1-series has a fully automated roof that opens in about 20 seconds. So now you can enjoy this cars great dynamics with sunshine. Only drawback by going with the convertible over the coupe is a loss in some trunk space and a loss in its chassis rigidity. So it might not be as practical as its coupe sibling or as much fun in the twisties, but it surely makes up for it by providing you with topless motoring.

The convertible version I had was equipped with another treat, that was its engine. You can order a 1-series with the 3-litre, twin-turbo, in-line six cylinder motor, which produces 300hp and an equal 300 lb/ft of torque (this actually has more torque than the M3 I raved about so much last week). With this engine, this becomes a 135i and you honestly have a very fast car. The 135i is actually just as quick as a Porsche Boxster, yet is about $20,000 cheaper (128i convertible starts at $39,900, 135i convertible starts at $47,200) and is more practical.

Fuel economy is decent, I averaged 11-litres/100km with the 128i and about 13-litres/100km with the 135i, and honestly I probably drove them a lot harder than most people would.

So if you can't afford the awesome BMW M3, no worries, either one of these would do just fine. Personally, I would have the 128i coupe as it is fast enough for everyday use and is a great buy. So if you are in the market for a fun little car, do look at these new offerings from BMW.
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