After spending some time with the new BMW 118i, I was eager to see what the range topping M135i had to offer. This is the range topping variant currently available on the market for the 1 Series and their hot hatch competitor in a market that is becoming fiercely competitive. From what seems to be the norm on all new M models, the M135i comes with X Drive which is BMW's four-wheel drive system, which balances out the power delivery from the engine to all four wheels in Sport mode. Also it will have the purist happy knowing that it won't just be front-wheel drive like the rest of the 1 Series line up. Having put my demons to bed about the looks when I had the 118i, I was quite looking forward to checking this model out and see what modifications and additions in the design BMW will add to beef the look up of the M135i and I was not disappointing as you will soon find out.
With the 1 Series design being a bit different from the outgoing model, this new one is pretty refreshing and on closer inspection you will appreciate with the guys in Bavaria have done. This particular car came in Misano Blue and being their performance model, it was evident they had to add some additions to the design to make sure it stands out from the line up. First thing you will notice is the blacked out fused kidney grilles, which feature the trident design instead of the parallel lines on the standard models, the same design which is featured on the M340i. The grille is also active, so opens and closes when airflow is required. The front difusser is changed, with a bigger air-intake in the bottom and more dominant air-scoops leading to the brake duct. 18" M Sport V style bi-colour rims make the car stand out even more, with the clean lines leading to the rear where the rear difussor is more pronounced with high-gloss black bottom and large twin-exhausts that amplify that this is not a car to be messed about with. On the inside, the layout is identical to a normal 1 Series with a lot more brushed aluminium and silver accents, what you will notice immediately is the sport seats which are stunning and mighty comfortable if I have to say so myself.
Big talking point about this new M135i is the engine, previous model used a 6 cylinder while this new one is a 4/4 layout. While this may be the case power delivery has been increased with the 2-litre TwinPower Turbo motor producing 225kW and a torque figure of 450Nm to propel from standstill, achieving a 0-100km/h time of just 4.8 seconds. It's quite blistering and with the four-wheel drive quite an experience to the driver. With the 4 cylinder motor, there is a considerable drop in the fuel consumption and while BMW brochure quotes the average being 7.5L per 100km, I did two long distance journeys with it and on the first one managed to get 7.7L per 100km but the second I got 7,2L per 100km! So I'm very impressed with how is cruises and sips fuel, not as thirsty as other hot hatches tend to be. Now with a hot hatch you don't want me ranting and raving about how good it is when driving slow, select Sport+ and unleash the demon in this bugger, the tone in the pipes get louder, X Drive is active and this thing plants itself on the tarmac like a clingy ex-girlfriend. The way the car hugs the corners at high speed with power distribution shifting to the wheels that need the most is something to be amazed at. Just when you think you've reached the peak in terms of cornering speeds, the car tells you to give it more because it can handle it. They say this is just something to whet the appetite since there is a M140i rumored to be in the works, but if this thing is anything to go by, that M140i will be mental.
When it comes to a sporty hot hatch, the last thing you want to hear is how comfortable the car is but even with the sports racing seats the M135i is blody cosy. The car came spec'd with the cloth 'Trigon'/ Alcantara Black blend for the seats and upholstery trimming, so it looked the part with all the detailed stitching. The seats were fully electric with 3 memory settings, with adjustable lumbar support and seat heating. So yes, the full package for the front passenger and driver. The rear passengers also get this fine textures and trims along with their one zone aircon. While it is a sporty vehicle with stiff suspension the general drive is pretty good, not as bumpy as you would expect. The cabin like all BMW's is properly sealed so there is very little road noise. Like the 118i, the ambient lighting is worked into the panels and really look stunning at night. There's nothing I can really pinpoint and have fault with, what I love is that whether you're sitting in a 1 Series or a 5 Series, the quality of materials used inside the cabin are of similar quality, so you're not being shortchanged just because you're driving the "entry level" model.
Overall, the new BMW M135i really has raised the bar in terms of hot hatches on the market, while the figures might not be blistering as some others, it has a decent offering that should not be easily overlooked. Couple that performance with the knowing that this car can perform equally well when driven properly so it will keep your visits to the fuel station less frequent, then you know you have a winner on your hands. Cabin space is generous for a hatchback as well as luggage capacity. The list of standard equipment is great on this top of the range model so you won't be ticking a lot of boxes on the options list. It's a great little pocket rocket if you want something small and exciting to drive.
2L, 4cyl Twin Power Turbo