With its very recent debut, the BMW 1 Series is still setting a hot trail to follow for the premium compact segment, remaining the only rear-wheel-drive car in the pack. For the Philippine market, official BMW importer Asian Carmakers Corporation (ACC), will offer 116i and 118d variants which are powered by a 1.6-liter twin-scroll turbocharged engine and 1.8-liter variable geometry turbocharged commonrail diesel, respectively.

And now we get to drive them.

One Origin. Two Originals.

As with the global campaign done for the new 118d featuring Freddie and Adam Lund; ACC tapped footballer siblings Anton and Armand del Rosario as their local counterparts of the campaign. Both are young with different lifestyles and personalities; Anton being the more active and life of the party, while Armand is the laid back family man, both of whom represent the two faces of the new BMW 1-Series.

The Program

We were divided into two groups, one being Sport and the other being Urban. Although we started and ended at the same destination, each group took different highway exits going to Hacienda Isabella in Tagaytay. The Sport group took the more spirited route through Carmona, while the Urban group took the more scenic route through Santa Rosa via Eton City. I started with the Sport group teamed up with AG Puyat and Anton del Rosario.

The Sport

On the way to Tagaytay, we hopped aboard the more active Sport Line. For starters, the Sport is differentiated by more aggressive styling with matte black accents on the outside. The interior comes with an exclusive design which features red lines and stitching for the sporty seats. The suspension is tuned with stiffer springs and harder dampers for harder cornering and thus a more spirited driving experience.

The main highlight of course is the Sport+ mode which gives a more “unleashed” driving feel. The transmission stays on gear until redline, the electronic stability program is more relaxed and the engine revs up faster, giving the driver the impression that he's behind the wheel of a totally different car.

The Urban

For our return trip to Manila, we switched to the Urban Line 1-Series. The first thing we noticed was the less aggressive exterior, the more comfortable seats and, of course, the absence of the Sport+ driving mode. On the first few kilometers, we immediately felt the difference made by the more comfortable ride which comes of course with decreased handling and minimal presence of body roll compared to the Sport.

Common Ground

All second-generation 1-Series models will be equipped with a standard Efficient Dynamics package consisting of the auto start/stop function and the Eco Pro mode which promises to save up to 20% in fuel. The auto start/stop does need a bit of getting used to, as you might forget about it and think your new car actually stalled on you. It does make a lot of sense in terms of fuel efficiency and emission reduction.

The ECO PRO mode is a major highlight of the range as it promises to save up to 20% of fuel. Fully-integrated to the vehicle's electronic system, ECO PRO optimizes accelerator pedal response, transmission characteristics and gearshift points, and even adjusts the air conditioning system automatically to achieve savings. The mode also features a unique "Bonus Mileage" display, telling the driver how many kilometers he has gained with the efficiency of ECO PRO since the tank was last topped up.

The new BMW 118d Urban Line and the BMW 118d Sport Line are both essentially the same car with the same body and engine, but with uniquely different characters and the same amount of "Joy".

I'm sure you've heard the phrase "Same Same, But Different", it is usually a bait-and-switch trick used mostly in Thailand, but it is anything but trickery by the Munich-based automaker. In my opinion, this perfectly describes the new BMW 118d.