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Green machine; PETER KEENAN drives the BMW 118d and finds the diesel engine makes it cleaner than many city cars.

Byline: PETER KEENAN

IT'S attention to detail that makes BMW one of the world's best car makers. This was highlighted yet again when, stopping at some traffic lights, I dropped the clutch, put the BMW I 18d in neutral and the engine conked out.

Thinking I'd done something wrong I dropped the clutch again and the engine automatically restarted.

I was the beneficiary of BMW's automatic stop/ start feature, designed to prevent unnecessary pollution and fuel consumption when you are stationary.

Continuing the green theme, the 143bhp diesel engine offers impressively low carbon dioxide emissions, making it cleaner than many city cars.

This in turn earns the 1 18d a relatively low tax rating - especially for a BMW. Environmentally friendly it may be, but this Beemer is still some performer as the oil-burner powers it from 0-60mph in a shade under nine seconds on its way to a top speed of 130mph.

Other engines offered include four useful petrol motors and a 2.0-litre diesel. It's no use having the power, though, if the car can't cope with it.

The 118d is glued to the road so cornering is a treat while the steering is accurate.

But the rear-wheel drive layout does have a drawback as it restricts interior room - particularly for passengers in the back.

The children could just about squeeze into the rear if my wife and I shunted our seats forward a bit, but I wouldn't want to put adults there for any length of time as limited legroom makes anything other than short journeys impractical. The three-door version of the 1 Series line-up was added this year.

It gives the range the more sporty option it has been crying out for to attract the younger buyer who doesn't really need the rear seats or masses of luggage room. Its coupe-style frameless doors look cool, but the car's exterior is always going to leave people loving or hating it despite recent revisions.

There's no getting away from the fact that the 1 Series is expensive, but running costs are reasonable, with an average fuel consumption figure above 60m pg.

Facts and figures

Make: BMW 118d 3 door

Price: pounds 18,225

Mechanical: 143bhp, 1,995cc, 4cyl diesel engine driving rear wheels via 6 speed manual gearbox

Max speed: 130mph

0-62mph: 8.9 seconds

Combined mpg: 62.8

Insurance group: 11

CO2 emissions: 119g/km

Warranty: 3 years/ unlimited mileage, 3 years paint

CAPTION(S):

FUEL-SAVING - the BMW 118d has an automatic engine cut-off
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:Oct 19, 2007
Words:416
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