• Jun 1, 2008
Imagine, if you will, a compact rear-wheel-drive hatchback that runs from 0-62mph in a very respectable 6.9 seconds. Not too shabby. Now imagine that this same car could average 45 mpg (US)! Not possible, you say? Au contraire! In other parts of the world where they don't just use gasoline to power cars, this is not an unheard-of possibility. One shining example is the BMW 123d, which was launched in Europe last year. Powered by a twin-turbocharged 2.0L four-cylinder diesel cranking out 204hp and 295lb-ft of torque, the 123d scores 45mpg (US) on the EU combined test cycle. For now at least, BMW isn't offering American consumers any of its four cylinder engines, but fuel system supplier Bosch has a fleet of European diesel vehicles that they use for promotional purposes. AutoblogGreen has previously tested the Smart ForTwo, Chrysler 300, and BMW 535d from this fleet and will soon be getting its paws on the three newest additions to the fleet. One of those cars is the 123d that you see above. Reader Typhoon5000 spotted this one in Flint MI the other day and shared some photos with us. Stay tuned for full reviews of this 123d and two other really cool diesels that you (unfortunately) can't buy. Thanks to Typhoon5000 for the tip and photos.



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 62 Comments
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'd ditch my Cooper S for this. It's got nearly the same space, plus a much better chassis and RWD!

      Cooper S - I get 30 mpg. 15k miles / 30 mpg @ $4.40 = $2200 a year on gas.

      123D - we'll say 40 mpg. 15k miles / 40 mpg @ $5.10 = $1912 a year on gas. Looks like a savings on gas too. Plus you only need to stop for gas every 640 miles (I know 3 series BMWs have 16 gallon tanks).
        • 6 Years Ago
        Winner!.
        Now we know why BMW doesn't want to sell this car in the US. They'd cannibalize Mini sales.
      • 6 Years Ago
      That's a Kettering University parking lot. Someone representing BMW must be talent scouting.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Why is it that European manufacturers have no clue how to make a decent hatchback. While I would love to own a two door hatchback vehicle, the Europeans seem to simply chop off the back end of the car instead of making any attempt at streamlining. If they would make it a fastback or slope that rear window at an angle equal to or greater than that of the windshield, it would be an awesome looking car. Volkswagen screwed up the new Scirocco in the same way. Instead of streamlining that back window, they simply made it too vertical.

      In more simple terms... "eeeewwwww"!

        • 6 Years Ago
        I do like the look of the 3-door 1-series. I also do like the diesel engines and the way the interior looks. So much in fact I ordered one. Awaiting delivery in July ;)
      • 6 Years Ago
      I'd buy/drive it. We need more of these and less sedans/coupes with useless trunks.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Someone tell me why we can't buy this car in the USA? This is just what I'd like to have. Much more useful and practical than an SUV. Please bring us this car. We need options like this available in the US.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I love how car makers say U.S. consumers don't like station wagons or hatchbacks, yet every single SUV is exactly that--a (tall) station wagon with a hatch. Make a wagon/hatch, call it a mini-SUV, tout the awesome MPGs, and watch the sales roll in.
      • 6 Years Ago
      ZF 8 speed auto please.
      40mpg@80mph
        • 6 Years Ago
        With BMW's tallest axle ratio 2.35 (unless they want to make something taller)
        Top speed would be in 7th gear, with a tall 8th gear of about 45mph/1K.
        http://images.paultan.org/uploads/2007/03/bmw_2liter_twinturbodiesel_2.jpg

        So with the updated rating (peak torque from 2000-2250), it bumps the output curve up so that 80% of max power is at 3000rpm.
        The Civic Si is comparable, 80% of max output is 6000, while revving to 8K.
        So engine speed range is irrelevant.
        powerplant->transmission input (torque & speed)->transmission output (different torque & speed)

        I'd like to operate at BSFC minima (I appreciate the iso-output curves) for highway runs, but isn't going to happen with the WAY too short gearing that the German use. Think supercruise, think TALL.
        http://pics.tdiclub.com/data/500/ALH_BSFC_map_with_power_hyperbolae.png
        http://img187.imageshack.us/my.php?image=1352ya6.jpg

        • 6 Years Ago
        while you are all correct concerning the narrow powerband of a diesel and that more gears equal more power output, it simply does not matter in daily driving. why? because you do not redline a diesel. i drive around 35 miles per day, mostly through hamburg. you know at what rpm i shift most of the time? 2000 or less. more gears would only cause me to a) shift more or b) skip more gears, neither of which makes sense. the only thing i miss is a taller 6th gear for the autobahn, because at 80 mph it revs at about 2250. and having more power ready per gear is nice, but again, a diesel is no performance car. when i cruise at 40mph in 4th (typical inner-city speeds vary from 30 to 40mph) and want to overtake i just floor it and the car takes of, because i'm in the optimal torque range at that speed in that gear. please dont get me wrong, we are not talking about heavy duty trucks here (which, of course, need lots of gears), but daily drivers. and while 8-speed automatics are nice in terms of performance for petrol cars and engineering genius - in a medium-powered diesel car: no need. 6 gears will suffice.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Actually, lots of gears do benefit a diesel because the redline is so low. It's just as narrow a powerband as an older Honda VTEC, but at a different RPM range.

        They're turbocharged, too, so there's a little bit of lag.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Are you kidding me?

        Diesels have the most gears of all, because they have lower redlines.
        • 6 Years Ago
        mike,

        no need for so many gears in a diesel car, because of the high torque at low rpms. i drive a 125hp 2.2L diesel engine with a 5-gear stick. i get 39/45 MPG (US).
        bigger tranny will only put excess weight on.

        regards form hamburg
        jan
      • 6 Years Ago
      That's all wonderful, but somehow when they put this 123D rocket car in the EPA lab to get it's newfangled "2008" fuel efficiency rating it will only end up getting 29MPG and we will gnash our teeth and wonder what is wrong.

      And then all the diesel haters will come out of the woodwork and remind us that "with economy figures like that the mileage gains are wiped out by the higher cost of diesel."

      Give me a break! I'd recommend that 12D in a heartbeat!!!
        • 6 Years Ago
        The difference there psarhjinian is that you can drive a diesel with a hevier foot and not see the same decreases in mileage that you'd see in a gas vehicle and even moreso in a hybrid.

        Recall that the Jetta TDI Cup cars are averaging 25mpg in race conditions. With a higher output engine no less, but with all the stock emission equipment intact.
        http://www.autobloggreen.com/2008/04/27/vw-jetta-tdi-cup-racers-averaging-25-mph-in-racing-conditions/

        I challenge anyone to find any other vehicles which would post similar figures. Most race vehicles would be ecstatic to even see double digits in mpg's, much less over 20mpg. Yes, that is racing and not normal driving, but the figures are still valid.

        I'm just more frustrated that the EPA agreed to adjust the Prius(and subsequently all cars) mileage figures down when found to be inaccurate, but they haven't adjusted for diesels when real-world figures prove that mileage exceeds the EPA figures a fair amount. Most diesels have little problem attaining combined mileage figures that are often even higher than the EPA highway figures.
      • 6 Years Ago
      To shabby or not to shabby....that is the question.

      Proofreading is good mmmkay?
      • 6 Years Ago
      The Canadian government has some cars for "evaluation". This was one of them. They show them at car shows.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I am not saying it is the same car, I am saying these have been seen in N Am. for quite awhile now.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I'm pretty sure this car belongs to Bosch, actually. They're sending a bunch of their diesel cars to Kettering University for "Green Week" this week. Perhaps some more interesting finds will pop up around campus...
        • 6 Years Ago
        So, the Canadian gov't is a car manufacturer now? The tags are Michigan "M" plates.

        Either BMW is testing it in the US, or it is owned by one of the big 3 for competitive testing purposes. Closeups of the stickers in the corner of the windshield and backlight would probably tell more.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Please read the article. The car does indeed belong to Bosch. They have been operating a fleet of current European diesel models here for the past two years. They loan them to journalists to review and they take them to events around the country so that regular people can check them out and take them for ride and drives.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The problem with the 1-Series hatch is that it's really not all that practical, and it'd have to be sold at an impractical price point to make a profit (and not be laughed at) in North America. At said price point, it's hopelessly outgunned by a lot of other cars.

      To expand: the packaging of the car is bad. If you've been in a 1-Series coupe, you'll understand how cramped the rear seat is. The hatchback helps trunk space, but not much as you might think as the suspension and driveline components are quite intrustive. If you're an Impreza, MS3 or GTI intender, you'll be pretty disappointed; if you've been in a Honda Fit, you'll be utterly horrified at the lack of space in the 1er. This is, of course, before you get to the issue of weight. The 1er is heavy for it's size. That makes it even harder to justify.

      The problem is made worse by pricing. As much as myself and other greenie car fans would be ok with a 118i or 116d with cloth seats, such a car would be unsellable in North America. It'd suffer the same fate as the 318ti: derided as too slow and too downmarket. BMW would only be able to bring a 128i or better, which would put this just below the (much more practical) 328 Touring and much more extreme STI, par with the A3 2.0T and above (and this hurts) the WRX, GTI and MS3. And then there's the likes of the Mini, C30/V50, 9-3 and Legacy to content with. That's a brutal crowd.

      The 1er coupe can manage it because it can sell at that premium; sadly, the hatch wouldn't--it's not practical enough for pragmatists, and not sleek enough for the image-conscious.

      If it were my money (and I was leasing), I'd skip the 1 and go for a 328 or 9-3; buying would be the WRX or MS3 all the way.
        • 6 Years Ago
        In Germany the lease deals for the 1-series are pretty good. The 1-series has the highest residuals in it's class. I needed a car and compared Mazda 3 2.0 MZR-CD, Honda Civic i-CTDI and BMW 118d. The BMW was cheaper to lease than both Japanese cars, with the gap even growing if I drive more. (I drive a lot)

        btw, the 1er has a small trunk, but it's 10% larger than the Mazda 3's. The room in the back is not great but tolerable, and most of the time I don't have more than one passenger.

        From the driver's seat, the BMW feels much better (to me, personally) than the other two cars. So easy decision for me...
      • 6 Years Ago
      The fuel efficiency is great, the power and performance are spectacular. What's the long term reliabiity of this unit? Will it easily last past 200K miles like Diesels of the past? I don't think anyone really cares anymore in our disposable society. I'll give it 100K till the turbos and other systems need major overhauling... unless someone know something different...
        • 6 Years Ago
        Just when it seemed like our society was at its peak of disposing expensive items... Things are going to completely change around...

        It's the business cycle. :(

        And this time around we'll be in the trough for quite a while.
      • 6 Years Ago
      It is sort of ugly, but a 45 MPG car with decent interior room sounds good to me. Sick of all these "great MPG" gasoline cars being advertised with the highest being 35 MPG and then thats highway miles. All this technology and they can't bring a 40-50 MPG car to production?
        • 6 Years Ago
        When not driven on the EPA test, many modern cars will return that kind of mileage on the highway.

        For example, I got a call from my father over Memorial day weekend. In highway driving with the cruise set at 65mph his Saab gets 39mpg. Last summer we did a long highway trip where the cruise was set higher, at 85. His mileage was over 30 and that includes going through Montana and Wyoming with all their mountains. EPA says he should get 20/30. In 2000, I averaged nearly 29 mpg in my Chrysler while moving x-country with the car loaded full of stuff and going 75-80 most of the way. EPA says that should have been 26mpg. I have no idea how they get their numbers.
      • 6 Years Ago
      actually this car has a better mpg rating than a jetta 2.0 tdi in the eu cycle so i'd expect it to get better EPA numbers as well...

      The manual has start/stop and regenerative braking which the jetta doesn't have. BMW has thrown a lot of technology into this thing.

      It's cheaper than a Golf GTI here in Portugal...38500€ though...
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