While test driving two of the new BMW 1 and 6 Series models yesterday, we were struck by a sense of satisfaction. There was a understatement that doesn't exist with, for example, similar Mercedes cars. Respectively, one of the two Bimmers is practical whereas the other is luxurious – but they both ooze quality.
The recent facelift of the 1 Series sports-hatch has seen improved performance and improved efficiency across the range. Perhaps the biggest changes, though, have been in styling, with tweaks to the lights, grills, inlets and so on making everything look a little sleeker and sharper.
The 118d Sport 5-door that we took for a spin has a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine that will push it from 0-100 km/h (0-62 mph) in 8.3 seconds. BMW says combined use will deliver an impressive 65.7 mpg (28 km/L). It also boasts an impressive list of standard features, including a 6.5-in color screen with an infotainment controller, Bluetooth and USB connectivity, DAB radio, rain sensors and a host of easy-access button on the steering wheel.
Despite all this, we couldn't help but think there was a touch of magic missing from the 118d. Don't get us wrong, we thoroughly enjoyed the drive – it's a quality car – but we felt somewhat unfulfilled. Then it occurred to us that the 1 Series isn't really designed to be driven around without purpose. As BMW points out, it's used as an all-rounder in single-car families and as an entry-point to the brand by young buyers. It isn't about magic – it's about practicality.
For that reason precisely, don't expect the 1 Series to blow your socks off – just expect it to go about its business without breaking a sweat. It's quick without being screamingly loud, good-looking without being ostentatious, full of gadgetry inside without feeling complicated, and wafts through corners without the slightest bit of fuss.
As for the new 6 Series, BMW's sporty tourers, you'd expect to feel somewhat more of a sprinkling of fairy-dust. Driving the 640d Coupé, we weren't disappointed, but it was the quality and luxury of it that really impressed. It simply floats along the road and glides around corners effortlessly.
Driving modes ranging from eco, through comfort and up to extra sporty provide a means of configuring the ride, and make a notable difference where in other cars it can be too subtle. In addition, the 640d doesn't feel as big as it actually is once you're behind the wheel. Visibility is good and the steering just soft enough to give a sensation of relative weightlessness without being loose.
The 640d has a TwinPower Turbo engine that produces 313 hp (230 kW) and 630 Nm of torque. It accelerates from 0-62 mph (0-100 km/h) in 5.3 seconds and has a top speed of 155 mph (249 km/h). Even with this level of performance, BMW says it will eek out 52.3 mpg (22 km/l).
Standard features include LED headlights, the BMW Professional Multimedia Navigation system and a multi-functional instrument panel, the view of which changes depending on driving mode. The leather, stitching and finishes throughout really do feel plush and, as long as you're not sat in the back, there's ample space.
The 1 Series starts from £20,245 in the UK and €22,950 in Germany. The 6 Series starts from £59,430 in the UK, €79,550 in Germany and $76,600 in the US.
You can see more images of the 118d Sport 5-door and the 640d Coupé in our gallery.Product website: