BMW 118d: India First Drive
With the consumer gradually becoming more brand conscious and sentient about their perceived ‘status’, the names that we once associated with larger executive cars are trying to make a place for themselves in the Hatchback segment at a relatively, well, let’s just say an affordable price point. Mercedes-Benz launched the A-Class earlier this year, which was then followed by the Volvo V40 and with both these cars already on Indian shores; BMW couldn’t fall too far behind.
Soon enough BMW brought forth their much awaited 1 Series and needless to say that the German-manufacturer has a lot of hopes riding on it, not just because it’s venturing into unknown waters but mainly taking into account that it will go against the already acclaimed A-Class. But that’s not all, it has even managed to get aficionados all charged up knowing that it is the only rear-wheel drive car in the segment – a concept that is fast disappearing in ‘regular’ cars. So while the 1 continues to be a rear-wheel drive for now, we decide to have some fun with it before this too goes the stereotypical front-wheel drive way in 2015.
As far as the looks are concerned, the 1 series looks typically Bimmer, both from the outside as well as on the inside. The long bonnet leading to the small-ish grille with the Xenon headlamps give the front end a rather pleasing disposition. Although the profile, does have a sharp shoulder line and tries hard to give the 1 a smooth silhouette, the long bonnet and the cut hatch make it look rather unbalanced. The boot too is somewhat plain Jane especially when put against the likes of the A-Class and the Volvo V40 Cross Country.
The insides tell a different story altogether. The cabin is nice and airy, has plenty of space on offer and most importantly is a great amalgamation of quality, style and comfort. The dashboard looks pretty much inspired by its elder sibling the 3 series, but even so we aren’t really complaining. The red accent just above the glove box and the stitching on the steering wheel add to the overall appeal of the completely black dashboard. The top end ‘Sport’ variant that we drove has electronically adjustable seats with memory for the driver as well as the passenger. Although the rear bench has ample of leg and knee room on offer, it is just good enough for two. The large transmission tunnel doesn’t quite leave enough legroom for the third. Further, the low seating position not only makes it a little uncomfortable to sit at the back, it also makes ingress-egress a difficult affair.