BMW has introduced the 114i – an entry-level model to the 1-series range with a low P11D cost and a 1.6-litre petrol engine.

Corporate drivers covering any sort of mileage will always favour the 116d Efficient Dynamics model, as figures of 99g/km and 74.3mpg are hard to argue with, but you’ll pay a P11D premium and extra for diesel at the pumps. The 114i makes a case for itself with a lower initial overhead, though, and while it isn’t brimming with power at 102hp, the 1.6-litre turbocharged engine makes a solid case for itself with decent, if not abundant, mid-range performance. It’s obviously less well suited to motorway journeys than its diesel counterparts, but it’s nonetheless refined and particularly adept on urban trips.

When the first generation 1-series was replaced in 2011, BMW addressed the harsh ride and lack of boot and rear passenger space that plagued the old car. The current model still isn’t a class leader in either area, but its excellent build quality, badge appeal and sharp, engaging drive leave it very competitive in the premium lower medium sector.

The Sport model tested here has a P11D of £19,555, but the 114i can be had for under £18,000 in lower spec ES and SE guises if keeping the P11D low is your priority. It isn’t as efficient as the diesel variants, but 49.6mpg still isn’t bad for a 1.6-litre petrol engine, while the low purchase price combines nicely with a thoroughly impressive residual value of 40.5%.

As successful as BMW’s Efficient Dynamics programme and its resultant diesel engines have been, the company has obviously recognised the need to keep rivals from the Volkswagen Group with their equally impressive TFSI petrol engines at bay – most notably the fine new Audi A3 in this case. Fleets tackling below-average miles could do worse than consider the 114i on the basis that it offers the same well-rounded package as existing 1-series models but for less initial outlay.