I don’t like small-engine BMW’s. It’s just something that has never appealed to me and, if I look at all cars like that, some seriously good cars will pass me by, much like the 116.
When the original one series was introduced about 7 or so years ago, it was the new beemer to have. It was different and; BMW making a hatch? This could have been a new demographic! They did sell well though and, till today, there are plenty for sale in the second hand market. To be honest, as previously mentioned, I would have looked right past the 116 since most of us petrol heads prefer power and the whole experience.
Something the 116 can surely not give… or can it?
You see, the 116 is actually a twin turbo-charged little beasty which makes 100kw and 220nm. The power is delivered very low and peak torque is right there at 1350rpm with peak kw following at 4350rpm. This leads me to believe that this engine is very low stressed and very drivable. BMW has not gone for all out power on this baby model and thus it has claimed to deliver a very healthy 5.5l per 100km’s, something which I personally achieved on the open road. The engine is just so smooth and only when you get on the accelerator a little harder to you notice the turbo spooling, followed by a slight blow off noise as you change gears. Us petrol heads will appreciate that…
The chassis is also taken care of by BMW’s M adaptive running gear, meaning that you can adjust the suspension electronically from a rather comfortable setting to Sport Plus where the engine mapping is slightly altered and the suspension is firmed up. This makes a day night difference on a twisty road. The wheels are tasteful 18inch M style alloys, fitted with Bridgestone Potenza tires. Sure, there is a little bit of road noise, but this is normal with a fitted low profile.
The interior, nestling a lovely 3 spoke M sport steering, carries the sporty theme throughout the car. The sport seats, covered in a cloth and Alcantara combo, are not only supportive, but the feel is upmarket and spoils you. I originally would have preferred leather, but I really like these seats. Navigation is also fitted on this model along with the business package. This also includes USB and Bluetooth support, all of which can be controlled conveniently from the center console. Further optional equipment on this model is lane departure, which will vibrate the steering if you move closer to either side of the roads line markers. Adaptive turning lights, which not only curve with the steering, but also dims for on-coming traffic when on brights. This is an optoinal piece of kit that I would seriously not go without in any new vehicle. Park assist is also present on this car, but also an option.
The 116 may seem small-engined from the beginning but makes a great compromise between performance and economy. On our performance testing the 116 made an impressive effort from 0 to 100kph in 8.1 seconds and ran the 400m in a time of 16.8 seconds. This raised my eyebrows to the little 116. Even lugging it around in 6th gear at 80kph, then getting on the accelerator to feel the turbo spool up and all that torque is noticeable down low. I can’t believe how drivable this car actually is.
This 116 has really convinced me that you don’t need the “bigger is better” approach in life. If you keep it simple you will find those little things in which you can enjoy and this is truly one if those situations. The 116 is a surprising little package and is perfect for everyday duty. Remember that it is available in a 5 door too.
The 116i has a retail price of R265 500 and this includes a 5 year 100 000 km motor plan contract and a 24 month unlimited km warranty. Price as tested R400 419.50.