Roadshow Video Reviews
2009 BMW 123d DieselNot sold here in the U.S, but if it was available, you'd like it.
[ Background music ] >> You won't see this BMW next to you at a stop light. They don't sell it here. It's a 123 D, diesel, 4 cylinder, with a 6 speed and well we have too many hang ups about all that in this country. But if you drove one I think you'd like it. Let's check the tech. ^M00:00:18 [ Music ] ^M00:00:24 >> This little diesel mill puts out 201 hoarse power, no big deal, but a hearty 295 foot pounds of torque, that's significantly more than let's say a Hyundai Genesis coupe which has a much larger 3.8 liter V-6. Now this engine runs out of revs somewhere shy of 5 grand but that's ok you don't need to run around keeping a turbo diesel on cam. Although I gotta admit charging into a corner at lowish RPMs does take some getting used to but there's plenty of oomph to back it up. Now in Europe this guy gets somewhere in the vicinity of 63 miles per gallon but that's a different test cycle than we have here in the US. None the less assume stellar miles per gallon. Performance isn't bad, 0 to 60 in about 9 seconds is what most people are finding with this car. That's not stunning, but the story that doesn't get told there is that in the intermediate ranges going from 23 to 46 or from 11 to 37 mph, all these real world little darts and squirts that's where diesel torque is so great to have. There've been a couple of other tricks to make this car particularly efficient. One is they've lighted up the engine to make the entire package lighter, making it all aluminum which gives you something on the order of a 44 pound weight savings. And if you look down here and see the generator that's being operated differently as well. It's being operated on a regenerative breaking logic. So what happens is it's not engaged and spinning and adding parasitic drag to the engine unless you are either off the accelerator entirely or getting on the brakes. Kind of like the way hybrids are programmed. Although this car doesn't have a giant battery pack anywhere, just a standard 12-volt service battery. But that's how they're charging it, only when the car doesn't need to put its power into moving itself. [Door closing] Ok so let's see how this 123 drives in the real world cause a lot of folks still have issues with diesels. We happen to have a 6 speed manual on this car and by the way an M package which is kind of ambitious and again something most folks won't associate with a diesel is a performance package but that's why they're putting this car out there to change people's minds about how these cars handle. Now of course being a 1 series this car is a small package to start with, the question is can you do a 2ish liter diesel and power a much larger car with acceptable performance. You gotta believe so because the torque is the key on these cars. Diesels have some vibration to them that gas engines typically don't and I'm seeing it here in the vibration of the gear shift; that's something you'll never see. Disconcerning to us in the United States because we're used to extremely smooth power plants that are gasoline based. Now lets check out the auto stop technology. Here I am at a stop in traffic. It's in neutral, again manual transmission. I let out the clutch and that's what signals the engine to stop, which it just did. Now as soon as I put the clutch back in, it restarts. Little different than a hybrid or some other very efficient cars that wait for a accelerator pedal signal but those are usually with automatic transmissions. [ Background sounds ] >> So on the good side, the driving experience is rewarding because it's easy to find power and as I mentioned noise and vibration while they're present are by no means annoying or jarring. On the downside thought it's got a typical BMW manual transmission and clutch which are far from my favorite. The clutch isn't linear; it kind of has a hump to it and the gears you gotta pop in and out of every gear. If you live in a hilly city like San Francisco you're gonna love a diesel because as you start on a stop incline which happens from time to time it's very hard to kill this engine because again there's plenty of torque there to drag you up the hill. Now when you're in the gear and you run the RPMs up and go for the next gear you'll find that the engine revolutions float for awhile before they drop down to where you want to be to engage the next gear. Not my favorite experience for a drivers car, however I'll bet that's part of some programming for maximum efficiency so I'm not gonna knock it too hard. [ Background music ] >> BMW has no current plans that we know of to bring their 2 liter turbo diesel to the US in any of their cars and to be certain it is a somewhat harsher experience than the inline 6 diesel that we love in their 335D, but small displacement is really the root of engine efficiency, so in the future somewhere this car makes sense and it makes a lot of friends wherever it goes. ^M00:04:34 [ Music ]