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AC Schnitzer ACS1 Sport Eco (2009) review

Published:02 March 2009

AC Schnitzer ACS1 Sport Eco CAR review
  • At a glance
  • 5 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 5 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5
  • 4 out of 5

By Ben Barry

Contributing editor, sideways merchant, tyre disintegrator

By Ben Barry

Contributing editor, sideways merchant, tyre disintegrator

We don’t make a habit of testing modified cars here at CAR Online, but when the go-faster gurus at AC Schnitzer told us they’d made BMW’s 118d faster and greener, well, we just had to take a closer look. Here it is, then, the ACS1 Sport Eco.

I’m assuming green is a relative term when Schnitzer’s involved…

Not at all, actually. Independent TUV tests suggest the ACS1 should hit 61.9mpg on the combined cycle (though even AC will admit this is highly unlikely in the real world) and pump out just 119g/km (even a Prius emits 104g/km!). That means you’ll save at the pump plus get charged only £35 a year for a tax disc.

It’s the performance that’s relative, then…

Again, no. The ACS1 produces 171bhp and 265lb ft torque, meaning it’s up 28bhp and 44lb ft over the standard car. We tested it back-to-back with an independently sourced standard 118d and the extra mid-range punch was immediately obvious – the standard car felt strangled in comparison, and there’s certainly enough poke here to derive some fun from that playful rear-drive chassis.

Look at those wheels. I bet the ride is awful.

Wrong! The standard car wore just 16-inch rubber, but its run-flat tyres with stiffer sidewalls contributed to a frankly terrible ride quality. The ACS1 rides on 18s (and no run-flats) and AC-tuned sports suspension. The ride alone is infinitely superior to the standard 118d, while the tuned shocks and springs means it handles more neatly too.

>> Click 'Next' below to read more about the AC Schintzer ACS1 Eco Sport

Let me guess, it falls down on price.

You may have a point. Get the full spec (largely engine tuning, sports suspension, 18in wheels and tyres, front and rear spoilers) added to a car you already own and you’ll pay £6438. Or you can buy a new ACS1 based on the most basic 118d for £23,695 – a £5k premium. Our test car cost £25,495 for a three-door SE with BMW’s optional fabric sports seats.


The ACS1 Sport Eco looks, rides and handles better than the standard 118d while offering vastly improved performance and largely unchanged mpg. The £5k premium over the standard car may put you off, but consider this: the AC car offers 120d performance, with better economy and £85 cheaper tax plus all the other benefits to looks and handling we’ve already mentioned – all for a £2k premium. That isn’t enough to conclusively swing the decision-making process either way, but it does make the ACS1 Sport Eco a very interesting alternative indeed.


Price when new: £23,695
On sale in the UK: Now
Engine: 1995cc 16v 4-cyl TD, 171bhp @ 4000rpm, 265lb ft @ 1900-2700rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Performance: 8.3sec 0-62mph, 135mph, 61.9mpg, 119g/km
Weight / material: 1385kg/steel
Dimensions (length/width/height in mm): 4239/1748/1421


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  • AC Schnitzer ACS1 Sport Eco CAR review
  • AC Schnitzer ACS1 Sport Eco CAR review

By Ben Barry

Contributing editor, sideways merchant, tyre disintegrator