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Thomas Mallett2012-10-29 12:44:42

BMW M135i review: I prefer it to a 1M!

 
 
Slideshow
BMW revealed the new three-door 1-Series variant with the M135i at the top of the range in 2012.

After the furor that surrounded the launch of BMWBMWBMWGermany, 1918 > present87 models
8655 photos
43 videos
’s pocket rocket, based on its last generation 1 Series Coupe1 Series M CoupéBMW 1 Series M CoupéGermany, 2011 > present20 photos
4 videos
, called the 1M it feels a bit like the M135iM135i SportBMW M135i SportGermany, 2012 > present3 photos
has fallen under the radar, but you’d be wrong to discount it.

BMW won’t like me for saying this, and it is fashionable to revere the 1M, but I never really got on with the car. It felt like it was constantly fighting you on the kinds of roads I actually drive on every day…those little ‘B’ roads that have bumps and errant pheasants at every turn. The dampers were so hard that it made progress at any decent speed a seat of the pants experience not helped by a turbocharged engine that, while very good, lacks the ultimate precision of a naturally aspirated unit. Feel free to disagree if you like.

Let’s deal with it from the top shall we? It’s good news straight away with the M135i, especially in white with these natty blue brake calipers, smoked alloy wheels and contrast-colour door mirrors. The car looks purposeful but not over the top, especially with its swanky badging that leaves you unsure whether it is indeed an ‘M’ car or something somebody stuck on afterwards…let’s face it, it’s going to take us a while to understand all of the subdivisions in the BMW brand.

The long and the short of it though, is that you could drive the M135i through a slightly dodgy area in Liverpool or turn up at a track day and not look too out of place in either.

1 Series M CoupéBMW 1 Series M Coupé
2011
182 cu in
340 hp @ 5900 rpm
155 mph
4.9s
vsBMW M135i AT
2012
182 cu in
320 hp @ 5800 rpm
155 mph
4.9s
M135i AT

When you climb inside you are greeted by BMW’s trademark chunky ‘M’ steering wheel, sports seats and the latest BMW architecture, which it is impossible to criticize in any significant way. Personally I would prefer a steering wheel that transferred a bit more feel instead of deadening it with all that padding but overall it is really very good, and doesn’t feel markedly different, in terms of quality, to its ‘3’3 SeriesBMW 3 SeriesGermany, 1975 > present6 series
1247 versions
1579 photos
11 videos
or ‘5’ Series5 SeriesBMW 5 SeriesGermany, 1972 > present7 series
613 versions
1011 photos
7 videos
brethren.

The car I drove was an automatic so it was going to have to be special to convince me as a driver’s car. It all started off positively with a slightly naughty burble coming from the exhaust and a chunky but compliant ride as I trundled through the quiet village in the Cotswolds. I wonder, could this be a surprise package?

My notes went a bit like this: ‘it’s bloody fast – quicker than the old 135i by miles, and has plenty of throttle response especially mated to the 8 speed auto. It might be the best sounding 6 cylinder BMW that they make and the chassis balance is really good.’

That’s pretty good then isn’t it? I’d like to return to the ride quality again. Like a lot of the current crop of BMW’s the M135i rides well and the handling on English roads benefits from the extra compliance. There is a nice balance to the chassis too. The front end isn’t too keen to understeer and like the Toyota GT86GT 86 Gen.1Toyota GT 86 Gen.1Japan, 2012 > present14 versions
33 photos
1 video
I raved about a few months ago there is a bit of ‘play’ in the rear to encourage the enthusiastic driver.

Overall the M135i simply feels like a lovely car. The kind of thing that you could use every day, take to a track day if you wanted to and put the dog in the boot. It is beautifully well rounded for a 320bhp BMW and did I mention that it is only £29,995?

 

Other reviews you might like to read:

The Opinion: Toyota GT86 ‘IT’S ALL ABOUT BALANCE’
The Opinion: Alpina D5 Bi-Turbo - The Right Tool For The Job
The Opinion: BMW 640d Gran Coupe ‘BMW has missed a trick’
BMW 3 Series Touring: All the car you could ever want?

 

Encyclopedia
BMWBMW
1 Series1 Series
1 Series Gen.2 [F20] 1 Series Gen.2 [F20]
M135i ATM135i AT
Engine
Straight 6
Displacement
182 cu in
Top Speed
155 mph
Transmission
8, Automatic
Maximum power
320 hp @ 5800 rpm
Type
Hatchback
Fuel
Petrol / Electric
Fuel consumption (combined)
31.36 US MPG
price
$ 82.651
* based on Portugal prices
annual ownership cost
$ 2.108

1 comment

cabruce
The US has not received the new 1 Series body style yet, but BMW is offering the M135i's engine in the previous generation 1 Series two-door coupe and selling it as the 135is. I wonder how it would co...
more
29.10.2012 @ 13:23
Anonymous

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