Nowadays, almost every manufacturer offers a range of eco-special models. The trouble is, the technology needed to make these cars so efficient often also makes them difficult and irritating to drive.
Not with the new 116d Efficient Dynamics, though. In fact, we’d go so far as to say it’s the best model in the entire 1 Series range. Not only do you get all the financial benefits of running a car that officially emits less than 100g/km of CO2 – free road tax, exemption from the London Congestion Charge and 13% company car tax – but you also get a car that’s great to drive.
Like all 1 Series, the Efficient Dynamics (ED) feels light on its toes, and turns in to corners eagerly thanks to its quick steering. The ride is also remarkably smooth, despite the lower-than-standard suspension.
Performance is a long way from pedestrian too, because the 1.6-litre diesel engine can easily cope with the ED’s longer gearing. Put down your foot hard and it’ll hit 60mph in less than 10 seconds.
As with every car in these awards, the 1 Series wasn’t able to match its official fuel economy figure in our True MPG tests. However, the good news is that it got much closer than most other small family cars – including our two runners-up. An average of 56.9mpg is more than respectable, and good fuel economy means low real-world CO2 emissions.
Factor in the 116d ED’s classy cabin and generous levels of equipment – air-conditioning, Bluetooth and BMW’s brilliant iDrive system all come as standard – and it’s easy to see why BMW’s cleanest ever car wins this award at a canter.