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EUROPEAN MAKES CURRENTLY
dominate the small car class over
$35,000 and, for many buyers, it’s their
first step into the prestigious world of
luxury car brands.
The classy BMW 125i started out as
defending champion and has retained its
crown, despite some tough competition
from Audi, Volvo, Mercedes-Benz,
Renault and Alfa Romeo, with Lexus and
Toyota flying the flag for Asia.
The 1-Series follows BMW’s traditional,
beautifully balanced driveline
configuration, with a front mounted
longitudinal engine, mid-ship
transmission and rear-wheel-drive, in a
category that’s packed with front-wheel-
drive models. In recent times, buyers
have preferred to pay a little more for the
extra power and better equipment in
the mid-spec 125i M-Sport model, making
it the top-selling version in the range.
There’s a touch of sporting elegance
and refinement about the 125i M-Sport
five-door hatch, both in the way it looks
and drives. The distinctive body styling
and interior presentation are smart, with
high quality trim materials and a
pleasing attention to detail in the fit
and finish. Continuing the slightly sporty
character, the 1-Series has a cockpit-style
cabin layout. It’s a touch tighter on
space than some of its peers, but well-
contoured front seats provide great
comfort and support.
The 125i hatch is a superb everyday
drive, with the 2.0 -litre bi-turbo petrol
engine delivering almost hot-hatch
performance. Sharp, nimble handling and
excellent cornering are backed up by a
controlled ride that’s firm but not harsh,
making it an involving and enjoyable
driver’s car under all conditions. A well-
matched eight-speed auto keeps the
engine working in its most effective
range and fuel consumption is relatively
low, although it still lags slightly behind
the hybrid models.
The 125i M-Sport provides the prestige
small car buyer with an enjoyably
dynamic, high-quality, well-rounded
package for everyday use. Although
not the cheapest in its class, it boasts a
high level of standard equipment and
a suite of advanced safety features.
However, it falls a little behind in its
high depreciation should you intend to
sell the car after five years.
BMW 125i M-Sport
Volvo’s long-serving V40 T4
Inscription brings a slightly different
flavour to the class with its unique
Swedish character. While the German
brands are sportier, the V40 has a
more conservative, comfortable
riding focus with generous equipment
levels and a clinical sense of luxury.
Renowned for its safety, Volvo was
an early adopter of technologies such
as autonomous emergency braking.
Blind spot monitoring was added as a
standard feature on the Inscription
model in 2017.
Rather than being a standout in one
or two specific areas, the V40 is a
consistently good all-round package.
Hot on the heels of the class-leading
BMW 125i hatch is Audi’s 1.4 TFSi COD
five-door Sportback. As the top-selling
variant in the extensive A3 line-up, it
sits just above the entry-level model.
The presentation is first-class for
this model segment, with high quality
materials and outstanding attention to
detail in the trim and interior fittings.
Well-placed controls fall naturally to
hand and have a precise feel.
For an upmarket car, it’s not overly
endowed with standard equipment, but
like most in its class, it has plenty of
extra-cost options to dress it up
further if you want.
The incumbent champion does it again for BMW with a
consistently excellent introduction to prestige motoring
Best Small Car Over $35k
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder Transmission:
eight-speed auto Power: 165kW Torq ue: 310Nm
Fuel economy: 5.9L/100km ANCAP: HHHHH
Price: $55,489 (indicative drive away)
Audi A3 Sportback
1.4 TFSi COD
Engine: 1.4 -litre four-cylinder Transmission:
seven-speed DSG Power: 110kW Torque:
250Nm Fuel economy: 5.0L/100km ANCAP:
HHHHH Price: $45,728 (indicative drive away)
Volvo V40 T4 Inscription
Engine: 2.0 -litre four-cylinder
Transmission: six-speed auto Power:
140kW Torq ue: 300Nm Fuel economy:
5.6L/100km ANCAP: HHHHH Price:
$48,853 (indicative drive away)
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18/6/18 6:29 pm
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