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BMW 1-Series Coupe engines, drive and performance

2007 - 2013 (change model)
Performance rating: 4.5 out of 54.5

Written by Parkers Experts Published: 6 June 2019 Updated: 6 June 2019

With stunning performance from a six-cylinder, twin-turbocharged engine, the top of the range 135i is the most powerful production car in its class. But even though a prodigious 306bhp gives it the muscle to zip to 62mph in just 5.3 seconds, brake energy regeneration and variable valve technology allow it to return a creditable 31mpg. A 125i is also available with 218bhp (this is actually a 3.0-litre engine) which gives the 1-Series Coupe a 0-62mph time of 6.4 seconds.

However it’s the diesels that will be the driving force for most 1-Series Coupé customers. Thanks to twin turbocharging, the 123d pushes out masses of pulling power at only 2,000rpm to reach 62mph from rest in only seven seconds. It can go on to 148mph all out but still return combined economy of 54mpg. With a single turbocharger, the same motor in the entry-level 120d gets to the benchmark acceleration rate in 7.6 seconds and returns an impressive 59mpg.

Like other small four cylinder BMWs, these cars have the latest fuel injection technology, automatic start-stop, brake energy regeneration, electric power steering and low rolling resistance tyres. In September 2009, two more engines were introduced – the 118d and the 120i. The 118d is incredibly economical, averaging 63mpg while low emissions mean it’s also cheap to tax.

The 120i is also affordable to run with economy of 43mpg while still managing to sprint from 0-62mph in 7.8 seconds.

Like the rest of the 1-Series range, the Coupé is rear wheel drive. Coupled with equal weight distribution between front and rear, this is a recipe for the ultimate balance and intuitive feel. The car feels planted and exhilarating progress is available at the dab of the right foot in the 123d, which has a compliant ride even though it remains stuck to the road as it sweeps through bends.

To its credit, the firecracker 135i is docile around town but the downside of a firmer suspension set-up to cope with all-out progress is a hard ride and extra road noise from wider tyres.