Loading indicator
News & Reviews
Last 7 Days
  • Balance, grip and stopping ability all excellent; brilliant six-cylinder - refined, muscular, rev hungry and sounds great; suspension not overly firm; stealth looks
  • Tyre noise on coarse surfaces; cabin could look more special and noticeable hard plastics in places; far from the roomiest rear seat in the hatchback class

OUR RATING
9 / 10



BMW M135i Review
BMW M135i Review
BMW M135i Review
by Jez Spinks

BMW M135i will be an unfamiliar badge as it joins the German car maker’s current line-up. Its origins, however, date back to the late 1970s.

The first time BMW used a sequence of the capital M and three numbers was the M535i of 1979, which was the first proper, road-focused offering from the company’s M performance division (following the M1 that was more of a race car) – and the precursor to the now-famous M5.

The BMW M135i isn’t a fully fledged M model. Instead it’s the first passenger car from BMW’s newly formed M Performance range, following the M50d X5 and X6 SUVs released earlier this year.

It’s the new range-topping version of the BMW 1 Series hatchback range, and will provide some consolation to those buyers who missed out on the 1 Series M Coupe that’s now discontinued.

If that 1M Coupe made the M badge more attainable than ever before at $99,900, then enthusiasts with more limited budgets are likely to be excited about the $68,400 price tag for the BMW M135i.

Or $72,400 if you want to swap the six-speed manual gearbox for the eight-speed auto version we sampled on the car’s local launch.

BMW is initially pitching the M135i against the Volkswagen Golf R, although the 188kW all-wheel-drive five-door is significantly cheaper at $49,990. In terms of price, more natural rivals will be both the upcoming – but still a fair way off – Audi S3 Sportback and Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG.

BMW M135i Review
BMW M135i Review
BMW M135i Review

Speaking of which, throttle response isn’t quite as crisp or linear as the best versions of those atom six-cylinder BMWs, though the M135i is still almost (but not entirely) lag free.

Flicking the console switch from Comfort to Sport Plus brings the sharpest accelerator pedal and most aggressive shift mapping. You can also choose Eco Pro that dulls everything for the sake of fuel efficiency – which is 7.5L/100km officially in auto form and 8.0L/100km in manual – but is not for anyone who savours driving.

And this is a car for motorists who actively search for winding roads.

Cruise along in the BMW M135i and the supple ride is reminiscent of a Golf GTI, and this initially raises concerns that the car maker has gone to the other extreme of its hard-riding M cars despite its lowered, M-tuned suspension.

But fears are quickly alleviated when a sequence of corners arrives, because the M135i is terrifically poised and highly capable.

And its advantages as the only rear-wheel-drive hatchback in the world come to the fore.

Head into a corner at speed, and just as you think you may be reaching the point of understeer, the M135i remains beautifully balanced on its outer rear wheel, encouraging the driver to squeeze the accelerator harder to push out and on to the next bend.

There’s no torque steer to worry about, either, of course, and instead you’re afforded steering that is praiseworthy for its precision and weighting even if there isn’t the same level of feedback through the fingertips that you got from the previous 1 Series.

BMW M135i Review

The M Sport brakes are endearingly progressive and you’ll also barely hear a protest from the 18-inch tyres – 2cm wider at the rear – which generate monumental amounts of grip.

Some driving enthusiasts might actually prefer a bit more movement from the M135i’s rear end – and there’s no M differential like the 1M – though drive the M135i hard and, even with the racey Sport Plus mode selected, the orange dash light of the stability control system is kept busy.

The BMW M135i may not be an M car but it’s certainly a Q-car – one of those classic wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing performance vehicles.

There’s certainly none of the visual theatre found on the mini-muscle-car 1M Coupe. Just unique alloy wheels, a 10mm-lower ride height and dual outer exhaust pipes the key differentiators from a 125i hatch.

Inside there’s an M badge on the steering wheel but little else to make the BMW M135i cabin look noticeably different to a regular 1 Series hatch.

That also means the same smart-looking presentation and usefully sized boot, though also the presence of some hard plastics that lower the overall perception of quality and the back seat that doesn’t offer as much legroom as the average front-wheel-drive hatch.

The BMW M135i is a bit cheeky to ask $4000 for an auto gearbox and $3500 for satellite navigation but is otherwise well specified – in addition to the M touches – with the likes of engine stop-start, bi-xenon headlights, rain-sensing wipers, leather upholstery, rear parking sensors, climate control, Bluetooth connectivity and a 6.5-inch colour screen.

When BMW announced it was introducing a new M Performance range, it was easy to be sceptical that the company was simply looking to cash-in on its fabled go-fast division with the potential to dilute the sub-brand.

But as proof that the existence of a halfway point between a regular BMW model and a full M-car is worthwhile, the BMW M135i is perfect.


  Submit an Owner Car Review

BMW 1 SERIES BREAKDOWN

BMW M135i Review
  • 9
  • 9
  • 8
  • 8
  • 8
  Submit an Owner Car Review


SHARE THIS ARTICLE




BMW 1 Series Specs

M135i : F20 : 3.0L TURBO MPFI - 8 SP AUTOMATIC - PREMIUM UNLEADED PETROL - 5D HATCHBACK
Car Details
Make
BMW
Model
1
Variant
M135i
Series
F20
Year
2012
Body Type
5D HATCHBACK
Seats
5
Pricing
New Price
N/A
Private Sale
$38,830 - $44,130
Dealer Retail
$38,390 - $45,650
Dealer Trade
$29,800 - $35,300
Engine Specifications
Engine Type
TURBO MPFI
Engine Size
3.0L
Max. Torque
450Nm @  1250rpm
Max. Power
235kW @  5800rpm
Pwr:Wgt Ratio
162.6W/kg
Bore & Stroke
84x89.6mm
Compression Ratio
10.2
Valve Gear
VARIABLE DOUBLE OVERHEAD CAM
Drivetrain Specifications
Transmission
8 SP AUTOMATIC
Drive Type
REAR WHEEL DRIVE
Final Drive Ratio
0
Fuel Specifications
Fuel Type
PREMIUM UNLEADED PETROL
Fuel Tank Capacity
52Litres
Fuel Consumption (Combined)
7.5L / 100km
Weight & Measurement
Kerb Weight
1445
Gross Vehicle Weight
Not Provided
Height
1411mm
Length
4340mm
Width
1765mm
Ground Clearance
130mm
Towing Capacity
Brake:0  Unbrake:0
Steering & Suspension
Steering Type
RACK & PINION - POWER ASSISTED
Turning Circle
10.9
Front Rim Size
7.5x18
Rear Rim Size
8.0x19
Front Tyres
225/40 R18
Rear Tyres
245/35 R18
Wheel Base
2690
Front Track
1512
Rear Track
1532
Front Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Rear Brakes
DISC - VENTILATED
Front Suspension
MacPherson strut, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar
Rear Suspension
MacPherson strut, Coil Spring, Gas damper, Anti roll bar
Standard Features
Comfort
Sport Seats
Control & Handling
Performance Suspension, Traction Control System
Driver
Trip Computer
Exterior
Xenon Headlights
Safety
Side Airbags
Optional Features
Driver
Satellite Navigation
Entertainment
Premium Sound System
Other
Service Interval
24 months /  25,000 kms
Warranty
36 months /  999,000 kms
VIN Plate Location
Driver Side Inner Guard
Country of Origin
Germany