Review: If you like to drive, you’d love the BMW 118 M Sport because…

I’m going to cut straight to the chase, this is the most well-rounded car I’ve been behind the wheel of for a very long time. For what the BMW 118 M Sport costs, it was really hard for me to fault it even for the slightest shortcoming.

Go to every car website in Malaysia – whether its Zerotohundred or Carlist and you’d realised that everyone said the same thing – the BMW 118 M Sport at a mere RM 189,000, offers the most for your money – whether it’s performance, handling, ride comfort, NVH, in-car features or space.

It then brings me to this dilemma, what can I say about it, that would be different from everyone else? Turns out, absolutely nothing. So here’s how I’m going to approach this story – if you like to drive, you’d love the BMW 118 M Sport because…

  • despite it having a 3-cylinder engine, three less than what BMW was famous for, the vibrations so commonly associated with it were almost none existent – not through the steering, not at idle.
  • it did not rev like how you’d expect a 3-cylinder would. If anything, you could’ve been easily fooled to believe it to be a 4-cylinder or even six – such was the smoothness of the power delivery and eagerness up the rev range.
  • it’s 1.5-litre turbocharged engine, with a mere 136 hp and 220 Nm offers plenty enough poke, not to tailgate Ferrari’s, but enough for accelerations to be smooth and seamless because let’s face it, everyone wants Ferrari-like performance but how often do we get to fully utilise it? In the BMW 118 M Sport, you get to squeeze every ounce out of it out without the slightest concern of it biting back.
  • it’s a real driver’s car despite being marketed as your usable daily driver, which it still is. I say that because with a smaller and consequentially lighter engine at the front, the whole car felt really balanced without noticeable weight bias. As such, the BMW 118 M Sport was predictable, devoid of unsettling reactions and a ball of fun to drive – hard.
  • you will not be able to believe how this little hatchback pulls all the way to unspeakable speeds without any signs of struggle. The saying used to go, “There’s no replacement for displacement”; in the BMW 118 M Sport, you’d realise the opposite is true.
  • the BMW 118 M Sport is devoid of distractions inside and as such there is nothing to distract you from the main reason of being behind the wheel – to drive. It has everything you need, and none of what you don’t. Some of you might be harsh on this fact but it’s only logical to remember that this is a BMW that costs under RM 200k and sometimes expectations should only go that far.
  • the steering is nice and thick, unlike what she said, is almost perfectly weighted, direct and communicative with of course, the usual controls for the radio and other such things those who really love driving wouldn’t care about.
  • its 8-speed Steptronic torque converter automatic is as responsive and refined as you can ever hope for a conventional gearbox to be. Sure, there is a visible lacking of pedal shifters but honestly, you wouldn’t lament having to use the gear lever to manually up or downshift cause it’s as quick to react as it is ergonomic. 
  • you can drive real long in this car. The seats, while not the most visually-enticing, is as comfortable as it is subtle in its appearance. It comes with the necessary lumbar support and is electrically adjustable too. The seats even come adjustable rib support to really hold you in place while you explore the limits of the 118 M Sport around the bends.
  • it’s a real comfortable place to be. Considering how hard the M Sport suspension with stiffer springs allows the car to swing round corners, you’d expect the ride to be as unforgiving as a jealous mistress but no, on normal roads, in most real-world conditions, the 118 M Sport absorbs all the bumps and humps KL roads has to offer, as well as you’d expect it to.
  • you’d be rather disappointed knowing that you’d have to refuel a lot, not the car but your water bottle as the holders by the door panels are rather small. Fuel efficiency wise, the BMW 118 M Sport easily returned 500 km of mileage despite my frequent misbehaving with the throttle.
  • you’d get to silence your passengers, especially those at the back, from complaints and distractions because despite being a hatchback, the rear section offers plenty of head and legroom even for full-sized Asian adults.
  • road trips will not trouble you for a lack of space in the boot as it is abundant for all the luggage you’ll need for a short getaway. If you have a larger family or going further away, you wouldn’t want or need the BMW 118 M Sport in the first place.
  • every time you’re getting into it which you will, the inevitable glance of the BMW118’s proportions will convince you that you’ve bought the right car cause it’s such a looker.
  • with all that time spent on the road, the BMW 118 has your back when others lose concentration as safety wise, it still comes with the necessary six airbags, ABS, EBD, Electronic Stability Control, ISOFIX and Lane Departure Warning among others.
  • future BMW 1-series’ are going to come in FWD configurations so this current model is pretty much the last of its kind – get it while you still can.


Pan Eu Jin

Pan Eu Jin

Regularly spend countless hours online looking at cars and parts I can't afford to buy. How a car makes you feel behind the wheel should be more important than the brand it represents - unless resale value is your thing.
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