BMW are famed for rear wheel drive cars that have enthused keen drivers for many years. So you can imagine the howls of BMW devotees, matched only by the howl of the famed BMW straight six under full throttle, when an M car emerged with a 4-cylinder engine and essentially front wheel drive.
The M135i is actually all-wheel-drive, but unless additional traction is required it’s pulled rather than pushed along the road. It loses some of its character compared to the previous car which had a straight six and rear wheel drive.
So it’s a different car but most drivers wanting a comfortable, fast and premium badged performance car will love it.
Priced from €38,217 (£34,995) as ever with German cars the price is prone to escalation once you tick a few option boxes. My test car came very well loaded with three option packs at €1,638 (£1,5000 each, including larger alloys, enhanced Harmon Kardon sound system, keyless entry, park assist, wireless charging, head-up display, adaptive LED headlamps and high beam assist.
Other options included a panoramic roof €1,092 (£1,000), adaptive suspension €546 (£500), gesture control €327 (£300), front seats lumber support €164 (£150) and through loading aperture in the rear seat €164 (£150).
Phew! That brings the total cost to €46,724 (£42,785). A lot of money for a 5-door hot hatch, but it is something a little bit more than a normal hot hatch.
It has quicker steering, tweaked suspension and sits lower than the standard
1-Series. On the road it rides very well on even the firmest suspension setting from the optional adaptive ride settings.
This compliant ride isn’t at the expense of handling though as through the most twisting cross country roads it has plenty of grip and excellent steering. It takes fast corners with considerable ease and a confident feel. Seating is comfortable and there’s decent space for people and luggage.
Build quality seems good with quite tactile materials that I think would prove durable in use. Externally the dominating factor is that grille. It looks better in darker colours rather than chrome effect where it’s far too Kardashian.
This latest incarnation of the famous kidney shaped grille is a bit too in your face for me. That and the loss of the straight-six rear drive set-up shouldn’t detract from what is a great performance car. It’s no worse than the outgoing 135i/140i, it’s just different.
Facts at a Glance
- Model: BMW M135i
- Engine: 2.0-litre, twin turbocharged, 4-cylinder, Gasolina/Petrol
- Gears: 8-Speed automatic
- Performance: 0-100 kmh (62 mph) 4.8 seconds/Maximum Speed 249 kmh (155 mph)
- Economy: 7.6 l/100km (37.2 mpg) Combined driving
- Emissions: 174 g/km
Model tested was UK-specification and equipment levels and prices may vary in other markets.