The 1-series has been a popular staple among premium small-car buyers in Europe for some time, but it has only hit the U.S. recently. The fun-to-drive and attractive compact has just gained a new sibling in the form of the 116d, powered by an efficient four-cylinder diesel. Unfortunately it's only available in Europe.

Despite the absence from American shores, it's still a technological feat to appreciate. With its 53.4 US mpg rating in the European combined cycle, the 116d is as efficient as the current Toyota Prius and next-gen Honda Insight hybrids. And at 116hp (86kW) and 192lb-ft (260Nm) it's just as powerful as the hybrids too - not to mention a good deal better looking.

The 116d is highly practical too, available in both three and five-door guises. It's not a sports car in 116d trim, returning a 10.2 second dash to 62mph (100km/h), but it is low in CO2 emissions at 118g/km and therefore cheap to maintain and operate with Europe's emissions charging schemes.

The future of the diesel BMW in America is still not 100% clear, but the smaller diesels are not as likely as those found in the 7-series and other larger cars due to the cost involved in their production and the low expected sales volumes - both of which eat into already small profit margins. It just isn't a viable business proposition yet, but as 2008 proved in inimitable style, things change.

The 116d goes on sale in Europe in March at an on-the-road price of £17,605 ($26,706) in the UK.