BMW World SG ’21: Cheapest new BMW, the 116i debuts at S$144k with COE

At BMW World SG, the German brand hatches a plan to start 2021 strong with a new COE Cat A entry-level version of the 1 Series hatchback


Call it Plan A for a strong start to 2021, as BMW kicks off the year with the 116i, the cheapest model in its showroom. It costs S$143,888 with a Category A Certificate Of Entitlement (COE).

The new 116i is one of more than 30 cars one display at BMW World SG, a mini motorshow at the BMW and BMW M showrooms on Alexandra Road running from now until February 19, 2021.

With a 109 horsepower, three-cylinder engine, the 116i is the third BMW that you can register with a Category A COE, which is usually cheaper than the Category B certificate for more powerful cars. The others are the 216i Active Tourer and Gran Tourer, which are more boxy and spacious.

Before its launch, the entry-level 1 Series was the 118i, which needed a Category B COE and cost S$9,000 more. It was last on BMW’s price list in October last year.

The 116i’s turbo engine drives the front wheels through a seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic, and sends the BMW to 100km/h in a leisurely 10.6 seconds.

The performance might not be the stuff of legend, but the hatchback does get much of the equipment that BMW puts in its more expensive models for Singapore. It has two screens — one a 10.25-inch touchscreen for the infotainment system and the other, the 12.3-inch virtual instrument cluster that BMW calls its Live Cockpit Professional system.

The car pairs wirelessly with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, and it has a tray to charge your phone wirelessly, too. The voice-activated and artificial intelligence-enabled interface system (“Hey, BMW!” to you and me) is also on the standard equipment list, as is the ability to operate the car with a digital key, via a compatible smartphone.

As a new entry-level model, the 116i’s main purpose is to draw drivers into the world of BMW, while its launch setting is meant to showcase the breadth of that world. Apart from the brand’s main range of cars, BMW World SG features full electric cars, plug-in hybrids, high performance models from BMW M, and even a pair of motorcycles.

But the brand expects big things from its new small hatch. “Most likely, this is going to be one of our new top selling models,” Arnt Bayer, Performance Motors’ managing director, said at a press preview for BMW World SG yesterday. BMW ended 2020 with record sales in the months of November and December, and landed in the fourth spot overall for the year, behind Toyota (and Lexus), Mercedes-Benz and Honda.

BMW’s cheapest model may be here to start the brand’s year strongly, but the 116i’s true job is to help it end the year well, too.

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Leow Ju-Len
Leow Ju-Len is a lot older than he behaves. He's been writing about cars for 23 years. Someday he might do it coherently. Ju-Len believes in world peace and V8s, but not necessarily in that order.