GRAN TURISMO CAR REVIEWS

BMW 120d

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SPECS

Years Represented: 2004-
Hosts: GT4 & GT5

Class: Compact
Type: 4-door hatchback
Country of Origin: Germany

Price as Tested: 33,020 (GT4), 31,517 (GT5 used car lot)

Construction:

Length: 166.4" // Width: 68.9" // Height: 52.3"
Wheelbase: 104.7"
Overhang: 5 feet 2 inches
Track: 58.4" [F] 58.9" [R]
Ground Clear: 5.7"
Weight: 3,119 pounds
Weight Dist: 49/51

Drag: 0.310
Steering: variable power-assisted rack & pinion

Layout: front engine / rear-drive
Tires: 195/55R-16
F. Suspension: strut, coils, anti-roll bar
R. Suspension: 5-link, coils, shox, anti-roll bar
Brakes: vented discs + ABS

Engine: 2.0 liter DOHC inline 4
Construction: iron block, aluminum head
Aspiration: turbo
Fuel System:
Valves / Cyl: 4
Bore x Stroke: 3.31 x 3.64"
Compression: 17.0:1

*all power figures & track testing in GT4 done with no oil change

* GT5 car was given oil change (but no engine rebuild) for figures and track test below

```````````GT4```````````````````````````GT5```````````
Final HP: 161 @ 4,000                                       165 @ 4,000 rpm
Fnl Torq: 251 @ 2,000                                       258 @ 2,000 rpm

Credits per HP: 191.01                                     205.09
Pounds per HP: 18.90                                           19.37
Pounds per Trq: 12.43                                          12.09
HP per Liter:     80.7                                           82.7

GT4 Idle: 1,000 // Redline: 5,000 // RPM Limit: 5,500 
GT5 Idle: 750 // Redline: 5,000 // RPM Limit:

Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Differential: open
TCS: Y
ASM: Y
AS: Y
 
*The real-life car has TCS installed as stock, but TCS was off for the tests below.

`````````````GT4```````````````````````````GT5``````````````
0-60 mph: ``8.083 seconds                              8.016 seconds
0-100 mph: 22.500 seconds                           21.983 seconds
0-150 mph: nil

400 M: 16.120 @ 85 mph                                  no test
1 Kilom: `29.506 @ 111 mph                                no test

GT4 Test Track Lap
GT5 Daytona Lap: 1:06.000

GT4 Top Speed at Redline
1st: 27 mph
2nd: 51 mph
3rd: 83 mph
4th: 118 mph
5th: 138.92 mph @ 4,700 rpm
6th: nil

GT5 Top Speed at Redline
1st: 26 mph
2nd: 50 mph
3rd: 81 mph
4th: 116 mph
5th: 137 mph @ 4,600 rpm
6th: nil
 

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------EXTERIOR / HISTORY------


A warning to BMW lovers out there: this review shall be a bit of harsh reality.

If you've read how your M3 scored "Best In All Categories" in the latest Road & Track, then switched to Car & Driver where the 5-series you're thinking of buying beat a Lexus GS, Cadillac CTS, and an Audi A8 in a 4-way luxury car comparison.....
..... if your ego has been ballooned so far over the years until you thought perhaps that maybe you are King of the Road, I am here to wake you out of your dream and slap you back to reality.   

I began my BMW 1 series experience almost with a tongue-in-cheek feeling; a used red 120d of GT5 with just over 5,600 miles on its odometer being my first 1 series ride. I admit, I started driving this car influenced by a bit of stigma. There's just something so pretentious, something so "PLEASE NOTICE ME", something so ...well... yuppyish about this car, that even driving it virtually made me start to feel like I should be apologizing to all the other drivers out there for coming off like an uppity snob. That I was about to become one of those BMW drivers who make the mistake of thinking that since the car is superior to other makes in many ways, so is the driver of the car. See?

..."No really, I am Parnelli Bones the car reviewer, and I'm just driving this so I can write my weekly article" I said to fellow amateur race car drivers B. Gentile and J. Van Den Berg after I pulled my red 120d into the paddock.  

No offense to all the BMW drivers out there who aren't snobs, pretentious, or what have you. It's just that EVERY article I've ever read about any BMW from the last 20 years winds up sounding hyped. Every friend or associate I have who owns one has to explain to me how GREAT they are while I try not to roll my eyes. Really, every time I hear anything about about this carmaker, it always sounds biased. Ultimate Driving Machine my foot! Whenever I see a BMW in a race on Speed Channel, I always root for anybody else. Sometimes it doesn't even matter who it is, as long as he or she's not driving a BMW! 
 
For those of you who are getting pissed about my words, just try to see what it's like to be in our shoes. It gets annoying to us non-BMW drivers. All the superviscous praise, all the constant hype. A word of advice: BMWs are like kids: not everybody in the world agrees that yours are the best-ever. 

So I approached this vehicle with (I'm being honest) quite a few preconceived notions. Not just about the car, but the attitude, the persona, the almost holy establishment that surrounds it. But then, something totally unexpected happened. I started to (oh God) get into the BMW experience! As I drove my 120d in race after race, I realized I was actually starting to LIKE it. I mean really like it!  No!!!!!  Does this now mean I'm going to soon buy a purebred sheep dog? Study "Starbuckese"? Join a country club? Start playing golf??

Mercy. So I'll do my best, I promise, to try and get past all the hype and embellishments and just focus on the car. By the end of this article, you'll either thank me for saving you from eternal suburbandom, or hate me enough to try and crash my website. Ha ha.

There are several 1 series autos in existence and in our games; coupes and convertibles as well as 3 and 5-door hatches, but this review shall focus on the 120d hatchback. I really wanted to review this car and just focus on it because it's my first diesel. There is also a gasoline-powered version of the 120 (the 120i) and I'm getting more and more tempted to do a side-review of it, just to see the difference. For now, it's just the 120d, though. 

The 120d is a diesel, but is not a diesel of the past, with acrid bluish-black smoke following it and clattery noise waking its neighbors. It is not embarassingly slow. The 120d is a diesel of the present, and features a safely quiet, deceivingly torquey motor that can keep up with anything gasoline-powered, and with style. Low sulfur diesel fuel moves it along without choking everybody behind it with smelly fumes. 

The BMW 1 series was created so BMW could influence the more....shall we say....economic levels of automobilic existence. Is "automobilic" a word? Well it is now. Ha ha. BMW weren't satisfied going head to head against Mercedes-Benz, Acura and Audi again. This German car-maker has slain and proven itself over and over in the upscale/luxury/performance / power department, and perhaps were getting bored. 

So with the 1 series, they wanted to forge new ground. "Let's take on Ford, Volkswagen, and Honda instead". That seems to be the story here. Let's take on those higher-performing hot hatches...the Focus, the GTi. But we'll do it with a rear-drive format so it looks as if we're not just following the crowd. 

Notice this car's low price tag. My 120d cost just $33,020 in GT4 and $31,517 in GT5. Not exactly economy car country, but certainly not priced for just the boss, either. The car in GT5 had just over 5,600 miles. We're figuring from 2004 (GT4's release) to 2010 (GT5), so this means our price has depreciated only slightly over six years. I'm no expert, but this tells us BMWs hold their value apparently. I'm too lazy to do the research, though.  www.wisebuyers.co.uk has this car priced at about 20,014 ($32,236 in 2004 dollars) when it was new. Close enough. GT5 also features 1 series cars with more miles on them, which brings their price down further, into the low to mid 20s.

At 3,119 pounds, the car is not one of the heavier heavyweights, and certainly its Germanic suspension can easily keep what pounds there are in check. We all know BMW and its ... reputation for road-worthy cars. The thing is, I bought and raced the 120 with the attitude that it would not impress me. I would not "give in", I promised myself.

   

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------ENGINE / DRIVETRAIN------


We've all heard so much about BMW's 6-cylinder engines. For those with fatter bank accounts, BMW also makes 8 and 12-cylinder powerplants, too. So it may come as a bit of a shock that the 120d is packing just a four. Like I said, it's obviously BMW's plan to take business from Ford and Honda and a myriad of others more experienced with more economical cars.  
 
But fear not! BMW devotees still have plenty to boast about to their neighbors. Yes, it's a four, but it's turbocharged (Really?). It is quick. And as an extra praise to the pedestal, the 120d is (yikes) good at the gas pump! 27 mpg in the city, 45 highway (which is 32.5/54.1 for you Europeans out there). Take THAT Prius owners!*

* Note: I know that typical top-model hybrids get better mileage than the 120d, I'm just trying to get into the spirit of the Young Urban Professional, who thinks his car superior to any other. In his mind, BMW was started so Moses could part the Red Sea. Not just to free the gentiles from servitude, but also drive them safely across in his BMW, okay?  

But like I said, most important is how does this car do in our games? How fast is it? No worries here.

The 120d has a surprisingly low redline, which is actually typical of diesels. But there's a huge amount of torque pushing this car. A compression ratio of 17.0:1 is helping heaps here. Modern normally-aspirated gasoline-powered engines typically run compression of 9.0:1 to 11.0:1, for instance. Turbos often have even lower compression than 9.0:1. Just as in many a muscle car, the 120d gets to work as you're leaving those turns & corners, and it's all that springy compression that's at work here. Despite being a diesel, this block has plenty of attitude, too. At times, it's easy to forget this engine is just a 2 liter.

The power band is compact. With just 5,000 rpms available, it may seem as if this 4 hasn't got enough revving room to get effectively busy. But the good news is there is no "dead area". If we find ourselves putting down below 3,000, for instance, we won't always need to worry about messy upshifting into a shorter gear just to regain strength. If the BMW 120d could be likened to Rogaine, no man on Earth would have an excuse for baldness.    

BMW BMW BMW praise hype praise. But there's some bad news (heh heh heh).

...The relationship with this engine starts off a bit slow while it's stock. Zero to 60 mph in just over 8 seconds? That's a bit on the syrupy side, but also accurate. I did look up the 120d's acceleration on a British website and zero to 60 mph in 8+ seconds is just slightly slower than real-life. Car & Driver did a road test of a 120d in 2006 and got 7.1 seconds, but they also "brake torqued" the engine, which means they held down its brakes while giving gas, eschewing what turbo lag there is in the process. Either way, this is rather tepid for a BMW it would seem. 

Also, another small criticism is once we're in 4th gear, those higher revs start to lag. There's a thousand RPMs from peak (4,000) to redline (5,000). The moment the car's speed really starts rising is also the moment the engine starts struggling, therefore.  

There's only 161 horsepower in GT4 at first. My GT5 car started with more because it's a young engine with just over 5,000 miles on it. It's had its engine broken-in, in other words: 165 hp here after oil-change. That's better, but still on the low side. But, and here's the good news, also we've got just over 250 foot-pounds in either game to start with. That's diesel power for ya.

Therefore, this car isn't slow as in "Volkswagen Beetle
" slow. It does get moving any time we need it to, it's just lacking ultimate vigor at first. Things only improve here with upgrades, of course. Well, kinda.

GT4's 120d has three turbos available, but total power is somewhat disappointing. 264 hp @ 4,000 with 353 foot-pounds at best. Sure, there's plenty of races we can tackle with this, but it's still meager. Some front-drives which start with about 160 hp can wind up packing more than 264, for instance. Honda Civic SiR anyone? Seems BMW isn't always as...*ahem* ultimate as the hype lends, eh?

GT5's GT Auto parts shop allows us all three turbochargers plus all the other usual upgrades. Total power output here is 

At speed, the N54-coded engine makes a sound unlike any other. It's like a cross between a model train transformer and a teakettle. The car in GT5 sounds slightly more immersive in this regard, but both cars (GT4 and GT5) do share the same noise samples. The 120i, in comparison to the diesel, sounds pretty much like any other gasoline-powered hot hatch on the market. A bit of a raspy snarl is concealed beneath a much friendlier sound. Sounds more like a Volkswagen than a BMW, actually.   

In real-life, 120d customers can choose an automatic or a manual transmission, either way it'll be a 6-speed. In my case, I chose the automatic as I drove, tested, and finally raced my red car. As an auto mechanic, I get to drive plenty of cars driven by yuppies, 90% of these real-life cars are automatics. *Ahem* which is why I followed suit...

 
 

------CHASSIS / HANDLING------


Now comes the part where the car reviewers start gushing like tweenagers off to see a Justin Beiber concert, and I am NOT going to follow suit here. Quid will NOT pro quo at this moment. :-/~ Yes, BMWs have it all down those autobahn straights, even when they're packed with just two liters, but they also corner with confidence, turn-in tightly, and exit efficiently. Yadda yadda yadda, baah baah woof woof. If we are to believe them, BMW is King, everybody else wanna-bes.

But to be honest, a lot of this handling hype is well-earned. I've driven several BMWs in the games and in real-life. They always have this feel to them. Like everything has been well-thought and designed for (cringe) the Ultimate Driving Experience.

GT4
I didn't do too much 120d driving in this game, as I'm more fully engrossed in GT5 these days. Just my usual testing at the Test Course, as well as a few laps around Trail Mountain. I drove the 120d with N3 tires attached, and then tried some Medium Sports.

What's interesting right off the bat is how minimal understeer is. There's some for sure, mostly during tighter exits, but it's mostly a light, manageable push otherwise. Heavier understeer shows up on entry only if I didn't brake enough, which is typical and expected, of course. If more early braking is given, the front-end now steers in with a bit of grabbing. Interesting, since the car isn't even equipped with the Sports yet.  

The rear of the car has a delightful habit of dancing about thru those turns, swinging this way and that just a tad, losing just slight amounts of traction, while I (the driver) have some options. I can either explore this slight bit of loss, causing the car to get into some interesting corner angles while the tires go sweeee, or I can firmly get the car behaving thru countersteer, throttle releases, what have you. Some lift-off oversteer is available, as well as small amounts of throttlesteer. All of this is commendable in GT4, the game in which a long long list of autos can be found which should exhibit these behaviors, but do not.
 
Handling is otherwise as dramatic or undramatic as you want it to be. Well, it's as dramatic as you want it to be considering this is Gran Turismo 4. No drifts or slides, for instance, but everything else can be played with. There's always some cornering options with this car, always a way to try something new. Bumps get soaked up most of the time with ease, while the 120d continues its graceful dance in those turns.  

With Sport tires attached now, the car becomes even more an ally, especially as its front-end becomes even more grabby.

Slight steering movements? More forceful steering movements? It all happens immediately. "Oh, you want me to do that? Okay." the car told us while it was on N rated tires. With Sports it doesn't question us at all...it just does what it's being told, instantly. Understeer is minimal, and only shows up in greater amounts if more absurd demands are being placed. It's a little unfair honestly. PD during its GT4 days was obviously portraying the 120d more like its real-life cousins than it did with many other cars which do pretty much nothing but understeer in this game (Corvettes, Mustangs, Vipers, Silvias, a few Benzes...). Keep in mind, understeer does show up with this Beemer, but it typically shows up late.  

One thing is typical though, typical of front engine rear-drive cars in GT4, that is. That rear-end. That trunk area. Whatever you want to call it. Never does it break. Never does it display anything other than mild oversteering behaviors, this despite the small Alpine hill of torque the engine is letting loose, and this is while power is stock or fully-tuned. Those light dancy moments where the rear-end would get a little loose on N tires are now GONE once the Sports are shod, and I'm now missing this slight bit of loss. Those "mild oversteering behaviors" were welcome, they added some fun to our "ultimate driving experience".  

...But I want more. I want a 120d as described like its real-life version in this regard. Where's the feeling of low-end torque in this car as it's using its two lower gears? I turned off the TCS before I drove the 120d in this game, didn't I? *...goes to check Settings & Tuning menu...* Wow, sure did.       



GT5
For today's driving, I decided to take this car to Suzuka in Japan. I've driven and raced it at several other locations, but Suzuka shall be a bit of an experiment, something I've never tried before. The 120d would be running on Medium Sport tires (just as it would be in GT4 while "stock") and a stock suspension. I've driven the 120d also on Soft Comfort and other grades as well, and the words below can be applied to these other grades at times. Just add or subtract a bit of grip & traction here and there, and you get the idea.   

One of the interesting things about this car is it's a rear-drive, 5-door hatchback, which sets it apart from many others of its type and class, since many of these other compact hatches happen to be front-drive. The 120d in GT5 really gets some quality use of this hatchy rear-end, which sets it apart from an M3 or a 330i or any other BMW I've driven & reviewed so far.

Firstly, there are two basic ways to drive this car, so far as handling goes: as a yuppie, and as a human. Sorry, that was low. :-) Anyways, let's get started.

Driving as a yuppie:

Yuppies are made fun of for their conspicuous personal consumption and obsession over social status among their peers, which is seen as vain and materialistic.

That's a blurb from the Wikipedia page on yuppies. The term "yuppie" came into use in the early '80s, and I can certainly remember as a kid what it meant. The Izod shirts, the flawless haircuts, and of course, the BMWs. Back then it was the 318i, 323i, and early M series cars (along with several other models) which were in vogue amongst the yupsters. 

For the modern yuppie, this list has grown. It's not just Polo clothes and Dan Quayle haircuts anymore, and so far as driving goes, there's now only more cars to play with, not just BMWs, Volvos, and Snaabs. I mean Saabs. Modern yuppies (unlike yuppies of the 1980s) are not afraid to buy a Honda or a Toyota, for instance, because nowadays these cheaper cars are sometimes in vogue. And in some cases, it's okay (even "cool") to appear frugal. The latest Camrys and Accords of the last few years have also managed to add small luxurious touches as well, such as heated seats and satellite radio. Touches such as these also influence many a yuppie's decision, too.

But that's not all. The list of BMWs has grown over the years, as well. There are all sorts of BMWs nowadays. Coupes, sedans, convertibles, but also wagons, hatches, compacts and SUVs, and there are now also all sorts of yuppies. Some yuppies nowadays can be found doing community work or shopping at a supermarket, not just studying the Wall Street Journal or eating at four-star restaurants. Nowadays, we have preppy princesses and trustful truants...the kind of yuppies who you'd feel comfortable around as they tell you some latest good buys on the stock market. But it's the ones who are braggarts that we're concerned about. The yuppies who brag unapologetically on and on about their life...this sort of yuppie has been with us since the beginning, since the days when Carter handed the keys of the country over to Reagan.

The braggart yuppie wants a car that performs ultimately, but is also packed with gadgets and handles safely. Performance is also packed into their car, but this is usually a secondary consideration for the braggart. For this reason, I'm now going to drive a yuppified version of the 120d (such as an annoying braggart would drive), and then a "normal" version.

The yuppified version of the 120d as driven by me was also packed with gadgets. Not GPS, but TCS. Not an iDrive, but Active Steering. OH, the real-life has DSC (Dynamic Stability Control), so it's ASM in our game. And oh...throw in a Car Wash while you're at it, valet, while I find my Ray Bans. I'd give you a tip, but I only have plastic on me.  

Driving as the modern yuppie, I really got into the role, you see. The modern yuppie wants all this junk working for him, because he thinks it's superior. Not safe, not sophisticated. Superior.

Welcome to the world of the yuppie, where everything is duly rewarded, and with due dilligence. Such a driver should only be thankful to have such a car as the 120d, which steers into curves accurately, holds a line, and then scoots away with nary a problem. The yuppie just wants everything to work. He's not interested in that "drifting" nonsense that's sweeping the tracks. He just wants to get in, get out, and get going.

The 120d certainly supplies this desire. Our yupster can enter curves & corners while braking rather late, turning in as well. Understeer shows up, but it's usually light. Once the push is gone (momentary flick of the front wheels outward to regain mid-corner grip), the throttle can now be played with. Full gas can be delivered to those direct-fuel injectors, and now we have diesel power getting its say, those rear tires merely squealing just a tad, but otherwise the car exits unperturbed. That's BMW for you.

But let's not forget, this is a yuppie mobile. The Beemer's rear-end is behaving so well because it's got traction control aiding it. The car's variable steering (simulated kinda by Active Steering on its Mild setting) is really in control of the front-end. The driver, therefore, only thinks he's in control! Uf-dah, as they say in Finland. Finally, Dynamic Stability Control (ASM in our game) is also keyed "on". I, as a yuppie, am pretending to think this car (with all the junk turned on) is the best thing since sliced foccacia, but truthfully, it's getting massively slowed with every turn!

As I drove around Suzuka, I forgot I had chosen the weather change version. During Lap 3 it started to rain. Confidently, the yuppie in me took turns with just a little more caution than he did before it rained. But the BMW handled just fine. Only a little bit of slipping here and there. When it did happen, the safety net of gadgets was there to save me! Never did the car spin, or lose control, unless I made it lose control.

At best, the yuppie posted numbers that sound very BMW-ish: 3:23.320. How about that? After making such magic numbers, I suddenly got the urge to put on my vintage Kenny G CD.      

Driving as a human:

Some cars (in real-life) have traction and stability controls which can be turned off, others do not. Fortunately, the real-life 120d comes with an array of ways to kill all this garbage. After I did so, I managed a 2:28.846 before it started raining again. I couldn't improve an further after this.  

Dynamic Stability Control is easily defeated with the push of a button (or flick of a switch). The yuppie tried turning DSC off once, only to find himself scared (petrified!) to death after the car twitched a little on a rain-soaked road on his way to Whole Foods. He turned it back on, and wondered who the hell would install such a device on an automobile, a device that makes it do such an awful thing!?!  *giggle*

Well, I'm no yuppie. One of the first things I did when I got my 120d is turned all the junk off. Once it's off, good lord is it a very different car, especially considering it's a rear-drive hatch. That changes everything. 
And here's where I really started to fall for this car. I grew fond of it.

One of the things I really like is the 120d (once the aids are off) actually has flaws, just enough flaws to keep the driving experience from becoming dull, but not enough to make it frustrating. Comparing the 120d in GT5 to other BMWs I've reviewed over the years, it's quickly obvious this car has only more characteristics to explore.  

....Its behavior is more complex than the 3 series cars of GT2, in good ways and bad. GT2's BMWs could be tossed this way and that, drift and grip about equal with Normal, Sports, and sometimes Racing tires. The 120d of GT5 feels even more dynamic than these cars, though.

...In GT4, the M3 and 330i both disappointed me with their ultra-conservative safeness. These cars are pliable, can be tossed to some extent, but not as fun as they were in GT2 and GT3. At worst, there's understeer at the limit, with some commendably helpful treats now and then (such as lift-off oversteer), but virtually zero throttle-driven madness. No drifting! Not even a blip of traction-loss if power is still stock. The M and 3 series cars of GT4 feel even more sterilzed than the 120d in GT5 as I drove it with all its gadgets on! Well, that has changed. 

As I was saying. One thing that I'm noticing now is that for the first time, a BMW in our videogames actually has flaws. Flaws other than understeer or a lack of fun. One must really fight at times to control this car as it appears in GT5, but such fighting is usually rewarded if the driver gets it right! I only imagine that other BMWs in GT5 will also have a broader profile of traits for us to explore.

The front-end feels playful, helpful, and direct at all times, without feeling overly grabby, even on Sport tires. Front-end grabbyness, which can ruin cornering lines just as quickly as understeer, isn't something of concern. The GT4 car's front was grabby, remember? Not to the point that it was a problem, but it's interesting that now the 120d is acting different. Just point the car's U-shaped hood, and it always allows you to be accurate while you're pointing it. Perhaps this is caused by GT5's new steering input for dual-shocks. I had steering input set to +2, you see. But shouldn't this cause more grabbyness since the steering is now faster than usual? Apparently not.  

Braking too late is the one thing that can ruin here, but the good news is that damage control is exemplary. Just give an extra brake tap, hold the line, and this diesel usually avoids the sand traps, assuming it's got a couple feet to maneuver.

The tricky part comes as we're trying to dismiss turns. The rear-end, with all that torquey diesel action now getting its say without TCS interrupting, now gets into all sorts of interesting slip angles! It skews this way and that, yet still leaves plenty of leeway for the driver, who only has to use his gas-foot to keep it all under control.

This is where the "flaw" part comes it, though. Those who don't have good control here won't be able to control this car. Not only are there wallops of torque which can ruin everything  (especially in 1st or 2nd gear out of tighter hairpins and chicanes), but the rear hatch area tends to swing it about if one isn't too careful. This car is typically not for young gamers, despite its lack of power. It needs some know-how to make it survive. 

But, the driver in me is pleased. Like I said, this car, as much as I hate to admit it, deserves all its praise. It is fun. It is rewarding. It is worth the 30K of credits I spent on it. So have at it, virtual yuppie travellers.

   

 
 

PROS---------------------------------------------

1). The communication, the exploration. This car is always letting us know what it's doing, and what it's wanting to be doing, in GT4 or GT5. Progressive brakes, plenty of cornering options, plenty of spontaneous roles to play behind the wheel of this suburban bore.  

2). Screw up your cornering or out-of corner acceleration? This BMW has a plan for your rescue.

3). One of the torquiest 4-cylinders I've ever driven in a street car.

4). 6-speed tranny. As a manual or an automatic, it works. Close-ratio box useful at certain tracks as well.

4). Listen to that subtle turbo whistle!

6). Accelerates like it means business.  

7). Hatchback + rear-drive = plenty of fun oversteer for us confident drivers (GT5 mostly).

8). Minimal understeer, even in GT4.

9). Great car for intermediate and pro drivers.

10). Decent price for all the performance we get.

11). Easy on that gas, too!

CONS---------------------------------------

1). Pretentious persona with this one. Almost looks like it can't wait to show up the nearest Seat or Chevy. "I'm better than you" it seems to say non-verbally, with its bulbous mini-crossover SUV shape.

2). Underpowered at first, especially when we compare 150-ish horsepower with others of the 120's class. Some front-drive compacts of the last 20 years offer more power, less weight, or a combination of both.

3). Turbo diesel feels great below 100 mph, but starts getting winded at higher speeds, at least while the car is still stock. Tall gearing, basically.  

4). Not a car for n00bs.   

5). Turbo sounds subtly sweet, but the wastegate is typically way too loud. ssssssssssss *click* PSSSH!!!!!!    

6). GT5; Addictively easy to send too much power to the rear, causing it to smear and lose traction, sometimes even if TCS is on.

7). GT4: typically safe, somewhat generic with its expected light understeer / virtually no fun oversteer.

8). Ugh. I wasn't supposed to LIKE this car, dammit! 


Published: March 30, 2011 

Back to Car Reviews, I promise this time