Test drive: BMW 118d (E87)

Test-drive of the sporty and somewhat green BMW 118d E87 diesel (2007-), which has come down in price quite significantly due to releases of two new 1-series line ups.

BMW:s first 1-series the E87 was released in 2004, it was received with not exactly rave reviews, Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear thought that BMW was moving into dangerous territory after testing it, it was going to ruin the BMW brand and so on. Well he wasn’t right, the BMW 1-series it’s still one of the best-selling BMW:s out there, it’s one of the best cars in the Golf class and has a huge fan following (visit 1addicts.com for example).

BMW has since then iterated the model and improved it, the engines have been upgraded across the lineup there are also four door and two door versions as well as a convertible/coupe versions.

The BMW 1-series has some racing pedigree, a 120d upgraded with a BMW racing kit placed 5th on a Nurburgring 24 Hours race with 220 cars in the lineup.

BMW 1-series commercial with Kermit from the muppets (yes it’s weird, and in German).

How does it look?

From my point of view the design has kept up pretty well over the years, especially if you compare to other hatchbacks in the same segments. When looking at the car from the front it has the BMW signature grille and it actually (in my humble opinion) looks better on the E87 than on the F21.

When first sitting in the BMW 118d you will notice that it’s actually adequately sized inside, the materials feel like quality although they are a bit on the dark side, and the dashboard is more standard sleek BMW. In standard BMW-manner the interior does it’s job well, it doesn’t have the luxury touch like the later Audis.

The BMW 118d interior is sleek and functional.

The BMW 118d interior is sleek and functional.

Overall the drivers environment feel sporty, the small window at the back makes it difficult to see when backing up (the F21 has a wider window), and the even smaller mirrors doesn’t really help. On the other hand there are sensors.

Some of the later E87:s have Bluetooth or Bluetooth preparation (with the BMW Business Professional stereo), other than that there are USB and AUX connectors, there was also an optional Ipod  (yes you read that right) integration kit.

Calling the BMW 1-series a family car is a bit on the optimistic side, unless you are a family of two. The trunk is still small and fairly impractical, sure you can fit a big suitcase in there but that’s about it. However it certainly is more practical than the 1-series coupe.

What’s the BMW 118d like to drive?

Driving the 118d is a trip on its own, it has an aggressive feel to it and it always wants to go forward, the torque (300 NM) is good and the acceleration (0-100 km/h in 8.9 seconds) even when at already high speeds is pretty good for being a greener car. It’s versatile, works both on winding backroads  and on highways, but the real home for it is still winding roads. It feels like a go-cart glued to the corners, it never runs out of road. On the highway it is fairly comfortable, even-though the suspension is on the stiffer side.

The noise level when on highways is acceptable, but not as low as on some Audis and more premium BMWs. Of course this depends on what wheel size and tires you have. Buying a used E37 with the M-package is worth it, it will give the car an even more sportier feel, with sport seats and sportier suspension.

Common problems

Some common problems with the BMW 118d 2007 and later is the timing chain failure, at first BMW didn’t recognize it but now they have started to replace the timing chains in some countries on good will. The car I’ve been driving got its timing chain fixed free of charge. Other than that there haven’t been many problems despite driving the car almost 10 000 km:s.

The service are on the more expensive side if you compare to other brands, however since the service is condition based you don’t have to take it to the workshop every year.

Overall verdict

Overall the BMW 118d E87 is an affordable car, it looks pretty good and there are many kits and mods available for the car to change the look should you want to. The E87 is one of the last BMW:s in the 1-series that actually still has the more go-cart feel in them, the later ones are more comfortable and in my opinion less fun to drive.

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1 Response

  1. Per says:

    Nice, I have a BMW 118d, love it and I wouldn’t trade it for anything right now.

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