The BMW 1 series has grown up not only in size, but also in appeal. It sure looks the part, with a front end that has been totally revamped with a new grill and balances perfectly with the headlights. Subtle new bonnet creases gives the car a presence that its predecessor never had, while the redesigned rear end is flatter and feature larger tail lights. The BMW 116i is clearly more refined and sculptured than its predecessor.
Getting inside, the smallest BMW is much changed from the previous version, with significantly more head and leg room for passengers. Its new dashboard sports a square cover over the two large circular dials, set off by chrome surrounds. The dashboard centre section now resembles that of its larger siblings, to further align it with the BMW family.
Depending on your choice of optional package, the vehicle can appear sporty or elegant, thanks to subtle differences between the packages. Choices include the number of slots and colour of the grill, right through to the type of steering wheel.
The new compact BMWs are powered by new turbo-charged engines that offer both grunt and economy. This is achieved by way of the new technology derived from BMW Efficient Dynamics design. Another advance is the new eight speed automatic gearbox that offers three driving modes - economy, normal and sport – and is an absolute dream in motion. Depending on your mood, at the push of a button select your mode and the engine responds accordingly.
In sport mode the gears shift in high revs as the engine growls in response, yet push the economy button and the gears change at around 3000 rpm to mute the power plant. A pleasing constant is the absolute smoothness of the gearbox, so much so that the driver often isn't aware of gear changes.
On the road, the car is surprisingly nimble and easy to drive behind a light yet precise steering wheel. The car is well balanced, even through the bends, due to its 50:50 weight distribution.
The significant improvements that BMW have made to its 1 series offering have made these authentically practical and fun vehicles to drive, with the added advantage of being really frugal. With the family and our luggage loaded up, I managed a staggering 7.1 litres per 100 kms through the rolling hills of Mpumalanga, while still cruising at the speed limit without strain. This truly impressed me. The BMW 116i is true to the marque's motto - sheer driving pleasure. asa
Engine: 1598cc 4 Cylinder Twin Turbo
Power: 100KW @ 4400rpm
Torque: 220Nm @ 4300rpm
0-100km/h: 8.5 seconds (Claimed)
Fuel Consumption: Average 5.7l/100km
CO2: 132 g/km
Price: From R308 500,00
Car courtesy of BMW South Africa.
Hyundai Elantra 1.8 GLS
The all-new Elantra has grown in size and its flowing design is in keeping with Hyundai's new look. This typical three box model has been given elongated sweeping head-and-tail lights, chrome grill and a swooping crease running along the side of the vehicle, to reward with a distinctive appeal I believe to be among the best in its class.
Inside, the Elantra's layout is modern and elegant, with a blue lighted display that sets the tone. In the front cabin the radio and automatic climate control take up most of the centre section. These two displays are a bit confusing at first, as the large centre knob is usually an audio volume control, but I found that it adjusts the climate control. It's not really a bother as I resorted to controlling the volume through the buttons on the multifunction steering wheel. The steering wheel and gear knob feel solid while the dashboard's quality and finish are enhanced.
The interior space is excellent for a vehicle of this size, feeling airy and spacious. Its rear legroom is equivalent to vehicles from larger segments and the capacious boot can easily stow a few golf bags. The Elantra's design is not only flowing and appealing – it is also space efficient.
On the road, the car is well balanced and the engine fairly responsive, although not the fastest off the mark - but then its frugal consumption is a big plus. The gear changes are smooth and the clutch is light, making city driving a breeze.
All-in-all, in my opinion Hyundai have set a benchmark. This new Elantra will definitely make the competition sit up and recognise Hyundai as a geniune competitor. asa
Engine: 1797cc 4 Cylinder
Power: 110KW @ 6500rpm
Torque: 178Nm @ 4700rpm
0-100km/h: 9.3 seconds (Claimed)
Fuel Consumption: Average 6.5l/100km
CO2: 155 g/km
Price: From R234,900.00
Car courtesy of Hyundai South Africa.
Author: Azim Omar CA(SA) is a member of the SAGMJ.