BMW has rebooted its successful rear-drive rival to the Golf while sticking to the formula from the successful first-generation model.
Bigger in every direction, with a stronger body but a 60kg weight drop, the F20 1 Series is an attempt to address the issues afflicting the E87 original, like the lack of rear-seat space, difficult entry and egress and choppy ride quality.
But far from feeling like a poverty pack special (except if you’re in the back seat), today’s 116i rises above its lowly ranking and base specification to provide a terrifically well-rounded driving and ownership experience.
And especially so as a manual.
This is a proper little BMW.
Model release date: October 2011
In the mid-2000s BMW decided to have a crack at the successful Audi A3 with the E87 1 Series – essentially a five-door version of the E90 3 Series sedan.
It replaced the now-forgotten E36 ‘Compact’.
Released in May 2005, the base 116i was fitted with a sweet but rather puny 85kW/150Nm 1.6-litre four-cylinder petrol engine, mated to a five-speed manual gearbox initially, until a six-speeder replaced it during mid-2006.
Though an entry-level model, BMW saw fit to include stability control, a full suite or airbags, air-conditioning, runflat tyres, and a trip computer, but niceties like metallic paint, cruise control and alloy wheels were (expensive) options.
During early 2008 BMW Australia discontinued the 116i for the better-equipped and larger engined 118i 2.0-litre (which had been offered in the range since the beginning).