Joel Helmes road tests and reviews the 2013 BMW 116i.
If you’re reading this review you are probably looking for the answer to the question “Is it worth spending the extra to get a small BMW?”
Well, the simple answer is – yes, if you want a vehicle that is more than just a run-of-the-mill car.
BMW vehicles, even here at the bottom-end of the market, have a certain feel and tempo that many other manufacturers have found is almost impossible to replicate.
The 2013 BMW 116i is a five-door hatch powered by a turbo charged 1.6 litre four-cylinder petrol engine that delivers 100kW and 220Nm.
While those figures might not seem like anything to write home about the little BMW delivers spritely acceleration (particularly when Sport mode is selected) and is more than happy to cruise along effortlessly at 110km/h on the freeway. The eight speed sports automatic no doubt adds to the ease of which the engine goes about its business.
Fuel economy is also quite reasonable, though driving predominantly in ‘Comfort’ mode I averaged about 8.5L/100 in the city, the official figure is a combined 5.8L/100. Fuel economy is also assisted in the 116i with a start-stop system that is perhaps just a little more intrusive than some others.
On the road the BMW provides a good ride without being great, superb steering and remarkable road holding more than make up for that though. The brakes are also excellent, though after just a couple of days a thick coating of brake dust was starting to build up on the BMW’s standard 16” alloys.
Inside the cabin is where you can really feel and see the difference between an average hatchback and a European offering such as the BMW. The materials and plastics used throughout have a premium feel and touch that just can’t be replicated on the cheap.
You can particularly feel the difference in the switches, buttons and dials which are all first-class.
I thought the seats were a touch flat and firm, but they were surprisingly comfortable on longer journeys. One frustration though was that the driver’s seat height adjustment could only be raised when you aren’t sitting in the seat. In other words I had to take my weight off the seat to have it spring back up.
Nice simple gauges, a clear and concise driver info screen and nicely designed steering wheel all help add to the 116i cabin.
Leg room up front and in the back was a touch disappointing though and with the B pillar seemingly located a little more forward than most other cars, combined with a higher than normal sill panel, getting in and out of the BMW takes a little practise.
Also, leg room for an adult using the middle-rear seat is almost non-existence and the BMW 116i doesn’t give rear seat passengers air-conditioning vents.
On a more positive note the BMW does have a generously sized boot.
The standard six speaker stereo system provided very good sound quality but the radio reception, even in city areas with a strong FM signal, was often very bad and prone to completely dropping out.
The BMW 116i hasn’t yet been ANCAP tested but it does offer a long list of standard active and passive safety features.
As will all BMW vehicles there is no end to optional extras that you can bolt onto your new vehicle. Though starting at $39,993 most buyers at this end of the market will just be keen to get into a BMW for about $40,000.
Getting the BMW ownership experience for this ‘small’ amount though does mean making a few compromises in features such as a reversing camera and satellite navigation. Sure you can add them from the BMW catalogue but you will blow the budget.
As expected however the BMW 116i delivers superb mechanicals and a quality look and feel that just can’t be matched.
NUTS and BOLTS
Engine: 1.6 litre turbo charged petrol delivering 100kW and 220Nm
Transmission: Eight speed automatic
Safety rating: Not tested
Warranty: Three years
Price: From $39,993