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BMW 123d M Sport: Driven!

I spied the 123d M Sport the moment she emerged from the Rio Hotel’s parking garage. The 123d’s brilliant blue paint glittered as it rolled under the valet parking area’s overhang.

It was like no BMW I’d ever seen with my own eyes … the grille was unmistakable, but it was attached to body that could be mistaken for any one of a number of hatchbacks.

After the valet pulled the car around we chatted a bit as I loaded up my camera gear and fitted the rig. He was amazed that it was a diesel. And not just any diesel … likely the only BMW 123d M Sport prowling the streets of America.

A quick stop at the vending machine to pick up a bottle of iced tea (as a concession to the fact I was headed off into the Nevada desert) and I was soon settled behind the wheel … looking in vain for a cup holder. I found none.

“It’s the ultimate driving machine,” I heard a voice in my head say in an unmistakable accent. “Not a coffee shop.”

I tossed the bottle of iced tea onto the back seat, crept out of the Rio’s parking lot, and headed west on Flamingo.

In this first short video, I drop the hammer on the 123d … if you watch carefully, you’ll see me check the cheat card after letting off to see how many kilometers equal 60 miles per hour. d’oh!



The misinformed folks that paint diesels as slow have never driven anything like the 123d. I can personally vouch for this little jewel’s stated 0-62 MPH time of 6.9 seconds when the 1995cc engine is mated to the six-speed manual transmission. There’s little doubt about the variable twin-turbo common rail diesel’s 204 horsepower rating and 400 Nm of instantly available torque (approximately 295 foot pounds).

The diesel-powered 123d M Sport sits at the top of the 1 Series range, alongside the 130i M Sport which carries a gasoline engine with significantly larger proportions … 50% to be exact.

The average American might never believe fuel efficiency ratings of 36.2 city / 53.5 highway / 45.2 combined, yet those are the rough equivalents of the 123d M Sport’s official UK ratings of 43.5 urban / 64.2 extra-urban / 54.3 combined.

That’s in one of the world’s most exclusive, if not hottest hatchbacks … one with a stated top speed of 148 MPH. I have no reason to disbelieve that number, although I only had the chance to run halfway up the dial.

The second video is a longer piece where I run the 123d through Red Rock canyon. Not a lot of dialog, just some fantastic scenery, a chuckle or two and the sweet growl of the 123d’s as I chase a couple of Mustangs and a bright yellow Corvette through the snaky canyon road.

In addition to delivering performance that would embarrass most common hybrids, the 123d steals a page from the hybrid book with it’s stop-start technology. When you roll to a stop with the transmission in neutral, the engine saves fuel by shutting down. Engage the clutch and the diesel instantly purrs to life.

Wicked performance and high MPGs?

The 123d M Sport just might be the perfect antidote to hybrid-mania … if BMW could only be convinced to bring the little beauty here …

– by

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3 comments ↓

#1 John Lucas on 07.27.08 at 8:12 pm

I have already stopped by my local dealer asking when I can order this car – I am curious about the trouble bring this car across the Atlantic as my personal import? Is it possible to get a once in your lifetime exemption from federal offices? Or just import to Canada and slip across the border?
I want this car!

#2 Chris on 01.27.09 at 3:31 pm

bring this car to the states, im ready

#3 Small Vehicles on 02.08.09 at 10:04 am

[…] fantastic small vehicles over the past year. While our absolute favorites – the MINI Cooper D and BMW 123d – are diesel-powered European models that have not yet been imported to America, the trend is […]

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