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by Daniel DeGasperi

A comparison test between the BMW M135i, Volkswagen Golf R, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X and Subaru WRX STI might seem like a war between Germany and Japan, but it isn’t. Nor is it a showdown between rear- and all-wheel drive. Simply, the aim is to find the best sports car available for under $70,000, the near-perfect price-point for those looking beyond mere hot hatches but who can’t stretch to six-figure performance.

But the catalyst for the comparison is, of course, the arrival of the BMW M135i, which on paper boasts more power and torque than its established rivals for about the same money.

Last year, the 1 Series M coupe brought M3 performance for $50K less, sneaking under $100K by a few gorillas. Now, the M135i, despite getting a single turbo six-cylinder compared with the 1M’s twin-turbo version, boasts the same torque (450Nm) as the limited-run coupe, and near-identical performance for $68,400 – a further $40K saving. Actually, the supplied eight-speed automatic version costs $72,400, but slashes the 0-100km/h time by 0.2 seconds compared with the six-speed manual, ducking under five seconds by a tenth. At least the BMW badge isn’t an optional extra.

The Subaru WRX STI and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution have owned this territory for near enough to two decades. Ever since Colin McRae and Tommi Makkinen took the wheel of their rally-spec namesakes in the 1990s, and the Playstation brought couch surfers a taste of their glory, the two have been cemented as icons of the late twentieth century.

It’s unlikely that buyers of those race-cars-for-the-road will cross shop the STI and Evo with the Volkswagen Golf R, but it is all-wheel drive and does match them for performance. It also undercuts them on price. The now-five-door-only VW starts at $49,990 for the six-speed manual, and $52,490 for the six-speed DSG tested here.

Our tested Lancer Evo base manual costs $56,990, but like-for-like with the auto Golf R, the Mitsubishi dual-clutch gearbox adds a hefty $5K.

Meanwhile the as-tested Subaru WRX STI Spec-R retails at $63,000 – $5K more than the base STI which lacks leather, sunroof and sat-nav. A five-speed auto is a no-cost option in the Subie, but it lacks the crisp shifts of the VW and Mitsu dual-clutchers and reduces torque by a considerable 57Nm.

With the STI, the choice is manual or something else.

It could be said that the BMW is being attacked from both fronts – by the hard-hitting, boosty rally weapons, and the definitive sporting all-rounder. Conversely, the M135i newcomer seems to have the on-paper goods to crush the three of them.

The BMW 3.0-litre single-turbocharged six-cylinder is one of the world’s finest engines. It nestles under the bonnet of the 335i and 535i sedans, and the 135i coupe, and does its job brilliantly in all of them.

The engine replaced the twin-turbo version previously in those models, yet dropping a turbo saw no decrese in power and torque thanks to the company using a twin-scroll turbo design – essentially, there’s two boosters working inside the one turbocharger, instead of two separate turbos.

In the case of the M135i outputs jump even higher, from 225kW/400Nm in its mainstream range siblings to 235kW at 5800rpm, and 450Nm kept flat over an astonishing 1250-5000rpm plateau.

Above: BMW M135i 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder

So when the M135i is ambling along in traffic, auto slurring to a tall ratio, it is producing maximum torque; and when the throttle meets the carpet, and the horizon is being reeled in, the M135i is also producing all the torque it can almost right up to the point of handing peak power the baton 800rpm past where torque tapers off.

Yet the turbo six also revs to 7200rpm with a snarly, creamy soundtrack that whets your appetite.

The BMW six-cylinder couldn’t be more of a contrast to the Subaru four – one is couth, linear, raunchy; the other laggy, whooshy, a firecracker. Not difficult to guess which is which. The WRX STI 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder produces 221kW and 407Nm, competitive numbers to push the 1520kg hatch to 100km/h in the low 5s.

Despite being slightly slower than the M135i in a straight line, thanks partially to a 14kW/43Nm deficit and a 75kg weight penalty, the WRX STI actually punches harder out of bends and through the mid range.

Where the BMW cleverly conceals two smaller turbo wheels in one housing, the Subie just gets one great big windmill to thrust exhaust gases back into the engine. Like any big wheel it takes time to overcome inertia and spin, so while it does move more wind than the BMW, it needs more time to do it.

The Subie makes peak torque at a flat 4000rpm, but feels like it’s making about half that number at 1250rpm – the point at which the BMW is providing its full figure – while the turbo begins to spool up. There’s then a big jump until peak power is developed at 6000rpm.

Above: Subaru WRX STi 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder

Consequently, the Subaru is dozy around town, sounds grainy at low revs, yet runs out of puff at high revs (it calls quits at 6500rpm). It has a smaller rev-range with which to work in, say 3000-6000rpm, but inside that it is a truly crushing performer.

The smaller-capacity 2.0-litre turbo Mitsubishi engine is similar in character, but it’s much better.

There’s less turbo lag in the suburbs, an angry, industrial soundtrack when pressed, and it revs to 7600rpm – like any good performance engine, the cut-out starts with a ‘seven’ not a ‘six’.

Unfortunately, the five-speed manual highlights the engine’s still-present turbo lag as much as the optional six-speed dual-clutch automatic hides it.

In some corners, the Evolution is hard in the red in second gear, yet can’t give its best if shifted to third. Revving hard in fifth gear on the freeway is also less than ideal.

The Mitsubishi all-aluminium single-turbo four-cylinder makes its peak 217kW at 6500rpm – 500rpm higher than the Subie – and its maximum 366Nm at 3500rpm.

Above: Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder

Although less torquey than the WRX STI, and despite weighing 1565kg making the Evo the heaviest car here, the Mitsubishi doesn’t feel slower.

But remember what we said about the only WRX STI to choose is the manual? For the Lancer Evolution X, it’s the opposite – choose the superb, aggressive-shifting dual-clutch gearbox to create a near-perfect performance weapon.

The Volkswagen may share its four-cylinder, one-turbo, 2.0-litre capacity, all-wheel-drive basics with the Evo, but it’s definitely on the side of the M135i when it comes to linearity and refinement. With 188kW and 330Nm, it’s the least well-endowed car here, but then it weighs 1476kg, less than the other two all-wheel-drivers.

Producing its maximum torque between 2400-5200rpm is only less than outstanding alongside the flat-bed delivery of the BMW, but it helps make the Golf R barely a second slower to 100km/h, needing around six seconds to crack that benchmark – the Japanese duo wedge somewhere between the M135i and Golf R times.

Being two pots short of a six pack, the VW can’t match the BMW’s lusty soundtrack. But, like the Golf GTI, the turbo four is zingy, cultured, and rev-hungry, matching the M135i’s 7000rpm redline.

All of which is fine with the $38,000 GTI, but for another $15K, a raunchier sound is expected. At the very least, a crackly-farty exhaust should be included, to stop drivers reminiscing about the wonderful-sounding 3.2-litre V6 in its Golf R32 predecessor.

Above: Volkswagen Golf R 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder

All-wheel-drive systems are not one and the same, as the VW’s 4MOTION system proves. The company claims the centre differential no longer works on ‘slip’ angles – that is, sending drive only to the rear wheels when a lack of front-wheel traction is detected – like the old R32, but rather has an electrically-operated valve and pump to control oil pressure and allow the computer to control how much drive is sent to the rear wheels.

Apparently, up to 100 per cent of torque can be fed to the back boots.

It doesn’t feel that way. The Golf R has stacks of grip from its 18-inch Bridgestone Potenza tyres, but push past the limits of adhesion and it proves a blunt tool. There’s understeer in abundance, and no amount of aggressive-steering inputs to invoke a playful attitude will fix that.

It never feels like the Golf R is doing anything with its rear end – even a Golf GTI, with less grip at both ends, moves around more with its driver.

That latter virtue is something shared between the M135i and STI. Those two models have softer suspension than the  Volkswagen, and on a gnarly bit of road aren’t quite as nicely damped and comfortable, although the Golf does jar over really big hits.

The Subaru isn’t very good on typical country roads. Its shock absorbers are soft in the extreme, and on any surfaces bumpier than an ice rink the WRX STI starts to bounce its occupants, throw its front end off line, send shivers through the steering wheel, and even shudder its bonnet, such is its lack of control over bumps.

On smooth roads, the STI has plenty of body roll, but it allows the driver to feel what the mechanical centre, front and rear differentials are doing. The Subaru is the weapon it’s renowned for being when connecting (again, smooth) corners together.

Unlike in the Golf R, the Subaru gets a proper all-wheel-drive system with a button in the centre console that allows the driver to portion most of its torque to the rear wheels. Yet it still has enough ‘pull’ from the front axle to allow astonishingly early and hard throttle applications out of bends, maximising traction and allowing devastating pace.

BMW suspension tunes have been a bit hit and miss lately – the standard 3 Series and 5 Series are woefully uncomposed, yet when optioned with adaptive dampers, they are brilliant. The M135i gets non-adaptive dampers but with an M Sport tune, and it proves a fine option.

Like the STI, there’s a fair bit of roll, and undulations on country roads get the M135i moving around a bit. Yet, unlike the Subie, the BMW remains composed, comfortable, and faithful on all roads. Admittedly, with only rear-wheel drive, it can’t match the pace of the ‘proper’ all-wheel-drive duo – it scrabbles for corner-exit traction in the same place the Japanese cars release their rubber band sling.

Crucially, however, the M135i is heaps of fun to drive hard. There’s no corruption to its quick and largely tactile steering – save for a bit of lost motion when holding a bit of lock – and the front end is sabre-tooth pointy, despite the long inline six up front. The

M135i also feels the lightest on its feet, and despite prodigious grip from the 18-inch Bridgestone Potenza tyres, it is the most tail-happy (and therefore driver-happy) of the quartet. Throttle steer, courtesy of the wham-bam-thank-you-mam nature of the eight-speed auto and crisp power delivery, is there for the taking.

The Lancer Evolution X is extremely hard, but arguably the outright best handling car here. Its suspension rates are such that it doesn’t so much go over bumps as steam roll them.

Occupants can hear the suspension thumping and thudding over imperfections, and the dashboard shivers over really big hits. But the Evo will not be moved off its line, and will not require a change of pace over any surface.

The Mitsu has seemingly unending grip at the front, and the sort of agility reserved for a very special breed of very expensive sports cars. Its steering is so blindingly quick, even telepathic, a complete contrast to the slow, numb, and rattle-prone steering in the Subaru. It even makes the mid-weighted, sorta-quick system in the VW look well off pace. Cheeks will be torn off faces before the Evo X starts to understeer.

Yet its all-wheel-drive system allows as much play as the STI’s, with lots of torque going to the rear wheels thanks to an active centre differential with yaw control – basically, lots of sensors that tell drive where to go.

Bracing between the front and rear strut towers helps strengthen what is essentially a regular Lancer sedan body, but it also means the split-fold rear seat is ditched and boot space reduced dramatically. Other vices carried over from the regular Lancer include the awful road noise and terrible cabin plastics. But not the compliant urban ride, clearly.

Despite having superior driveability to the STI around town, the Evo’s ride is borderline harsh at low speeds.

Above: Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution interior

Above: Subaru WRX STi interior

The STI’s relative softness works better around town, where it skims over small imperfections – but it still crashes over larger ones. Like the Mitsu, the Subie’s interior is below average, with hard and grainy plastics and a low-res touchscreen, although it is quieter across all surfaces.

It’s when the driving gloves are off, and workday commuting resumes, that both the Golf R and M135i put the clearest lead over their Japanese competitors. Each of the Germans rides with firm, comfortable discipline. Both are ergonomic, well equipped and quiet.

Ultimately, the Volkswagen’s interior is too Golf-generic, where the BMW scores with a wide 10.2 inch colour display and nicer steering wheel, if not superior cabin plastics. The rear-drive M135i also has tighter rear accommodation.

Above: BMW M135i interior

Above: Volkswagen Golf R interior

There’s an obvious winner here – it costs the most, but the BMW M135i is a peach to punt hard, is properly quick, and sounds fantastic, yet also feels properly premium in its design and refinement.

It also used the least fuel on test, slurping 13.9L/100km compared with 14L/100km for the Evo, 15L/100km for the STI, and a surprising and disappointing 15.2L/100km for the hard-working yet slower Golf R.

The Volkswagen Golf R seems quite the bargain, given that it’s $20K cheaper than its fellow German. But it actually appears overpriced when it’s only marginally quicker and barely any more fun than a regular Golf GTI.

It’s just relegated to the lowest step of the podium by the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X. Unlike the Subaru WRX STI, which takes the bottom placing due to its flawed steering and inadequate body control, the Mitsu is the best car here to drive, with brilliant steering and composure on all surfaces.

It’s enough – also unlike the Subie – to compensate for its below average interior, refinement and urban ride. But, as Molly would say, do yourself a favour and get the infinitely superior dual-clutch gearbox.

Or just buy the best car here. For the first time in, well, ever, that $70,000 car is a posh, performance rear-drive German…

This comparison review first appeared in the February issue of the CarAdvice iPad magazine app. Head to the Apple App Store to download the latest issue.

BMW M135i
Price: $72,400
Engine: 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo petrol
Power: 235kW at 5800rpm
Torque: 450Nm at 1250-5000rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
0-100km/h: 4.9 seconds
Fuel consumption: 7.5L/100km claimed (13.9L/100km on test)
CO2 emissions: 175g/km

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X
Price: $56,990
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol
Power: 217kW at 6500rpm
Torque: 366Nm at 3500rpm
Transmission: Five-speed manual
0-100km/h: Not available
Fuel consumption: 10.2L/100km claimed (14L/100km on test)
CO2 emissions: 243g/km

Subaru WRX STI Spec-R
Price: $65,900
Engine: 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol
Power: 221kW at 6000rpm
Torque: 407Nm at 4000rpm
Transmission: Six-speed manual
0-100km/h: 5.2 seconds
Fuel consumption: 10.5L/100km claimed (15L/100km on test)
CO2 emissions: 243g/km

Volkswagen Golf R
Price: $52,490
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol
Power: 188kW at 6000rpm
Torque: 330Nm at 2400-5200rpm
Transmission: Six-speed dual-clutch automatic
0-100km/h: 5.9 seconds
Fuel consumption: 8.7L/100km claimed (15.2L/100km on test)
CO2 emissions: 201g/km

  • Sumpguard

      So the ugliest car is the winner. No accounting for taste.

       I’d take the EVO out of this lot.

    • Phil

      none of them would win a beauty pageant. I think the bigger issue is the competency of the circa $40k hot hatch brigade makes it hard to justify the extra coin for these. If you are prepared to sacrifice a couple of doors the Megane 265 and Astra OPC, while being behind in outright speed leave little to be desired in handling, and look the part as well.

      • Norm

        It is astounding that a company that gave us such design classics as the BMW 2002 can perpetrate it’s current range on a patient public.
        What is going on at their design department?!? Great cars in fuggly wrappers. Put this car in a modern but classic body with it’s classic drivetrain and it’s an easy winner.

      • $29896495

        Good point and for people like me where four doors are two doors to many, these cars will never be considered.

        • Phil

          Agreed. When you think about it, for the same money as the BMW you can get yourself into Nissan’s 370z, and they’re the equivalent of a funpark in your driveway.

          The article title should actually say sports sedan comparison, given they’re all 4 door 5 seaters. A sports car should be something special, not a shopping trolley with mechanical upgrades.

          • F1orce

            Yeah the 370z is far more sporty..

          • Mferrerw

            Clearly, you haven’t drive one of these “shopping trolleys”, compare a m135i with a 370z it’s a proof of your very limited knowledge

          • Phil

            gotta love the way people who don’t know me can make judgements on what I have and haven’t done on the basis that my opinion differs from theirs. You will note that I did not say a 370z was better. I do stand by them being more fun to drive, and I’m not the only one of that opinion. And I do differentiate a sports car as being something designed as one, not adapted from a basic production sedan. That in now way detracts from what these cars do. It just puts them into their proper context. Every single one of them reflects its origins.

      • Sumpguard

        I agree that none of them would win a beauty pageant but the mitsu manages to at least look menacing. Something the other 3 fail at and having spent sometime as a passenger in an evo 8 in Thailand I can assure you it is menacing on the inside with a nutjob 5 foot tall Thai driver at the wheel!

           If they haven’t hosed down the latest one then they are hard to beat, but if you’re after a smooth ride forget it. I think my teeth are slightly looser from that 30 minute joy ride several years back,

        • Don Quay

          So, were you really given a ride in the back seat of an EVO by a Bangkok lady-boy? What’s the real reason for the loose teeth?

          • Vantage

             Speaking from experience?.  

              I’ll bet you are jealous because he is allowed out of the country Don Queen !

          • Vantage

            and he’s right the ride is firm but you missed that too.

          • Don Quay

            Actually, no.
            Sorry to disappoint you and your buddy Slimeguard, but that is not my scene at all. But if that’s what you and him like over there, go for it. I don’t care how firm a ride you get.

            PS. The trouble with letting him out of the country, is that he is let back in.

          • Dashlight

            No need to apologise to them .They like so many others are used to you being a disappointment Don Quay.

          • Don Quay

            I feel the love between you and Slimeguard.

    • SIr9

      Evo looks like a sump guard.

      • Sumpguard

        …..Mum type that for you?

        • Don Quay

          I thought your BFF Vantage was typing for you.

          • Sumpguard

            There’s a lie. Everyone knows you don’t think.

          • Sumpguard

            ….and there’s the proof.

          • Don Quay

            That makes no sense at all. Explain yourself!

    • Jamie

      Why isn’t there any real world performance data i.e acceleration and braking distance?

  • Mitchy

    The new STI is long overdue.

  • imo

    Uglist car = M135i by a country mile. So So ugly… think Dugong ugly.
    I think you were a bit harsh on the STI… it sounds amazing inside the cabin. While there is bodyroll, put it into Sport# and you’ll have a smile on your face.
    EVO X would be the winner if it had a farking 6 speed manual… idiots. That 5 speed revs WAY too high in 5th… so dumb and lazy by Mitsubishi. Nothing wrong with the IX 6 speed, USE THAT!!!
    Golf R – who cares… it’s yawn in every single way. Bring back the VR6 and give it 2 doors, idiots.

    • Bad Apples

       Have you seen one in the flesh?

      • Sumpguard

        I have and it is ugly!

        • The Realist

          x 2 the new BMW 1 series is hideous

    • Zaccy16

      In the flesh in blue the bmw looks great, theres one like that in the geelong showroom and i would love to have that much money to spend on a hatchback!

    • Maz

      They went the 5 speed, simply because it’s stronger than the 6…

      • Lindsay

        At the launch of the X they explained that it was due to weight.

        But your explanation wouldn’t surprise me either.

  • The Real Wile E

    The best car won and the EVO and STI would hardly win beauty contests.
    Also confirms that  rock hard suspensions and awd are not much fun in the real world.
    Also not quite right with the last statement… remember the 135i coupe that was raved about

    • Darryl

      It wasn’t $70K, and that’s what we’re testing here, so he is right.

      • TipWl

         But you can’t actually get a M135i for under $70K, full drive away pricing for a manual with no options is $75K and there’s a backlog of orders so there wont be any deals for a while.

        • The Realist

          look on carsales most brand new M135i are selling for $85K+ 
          good luck buying anywhere near $75K for brand new 

          • TilWI

            I repeat with the important points that you’ve failed to consider in capitals: full drive away price for a MANUAL with NO OPTIONS is $75K.

      • The Real Wile E

        Close enough to be comparable

        • Devil666

          Not when you’re raving about the 8 speed auto though, is it? If you can let the BMW slide at 75, may as well throw the A45 in too!

  • Clem

    Compare compare compare … is getting boring to compare old cars. Just like everyone trying to sing & dance oppa ganam style. 

    Why don’t you compare new comers and/or with the old cars? Like Focus ST, Astra OPC … what else? Any suggestion guys. 

    • Deutsch

      and I would add the Megane 265 to the list. I think it would be ideal to have them all on there, OPC Astra, Focus ST, Megane 265….so the consumers can see them all head to head. Maybe some won’t want to part with an extra $20k for some of the cars in the story!

      • pixxxels

        And of course, the new A45 AMG to give the BMW a run for its money up at the top end.

        • Zaccy16

          yep the a45 would win IMO

      • $29896495

        I agree totally. None of those cars tickle my fancy.

        • andy

          It could be that no one is interested in your fancy or how you tickle it, perhaps a vaccum cleaner pipe to your mouth??

      • Zaccy16

        add in a mazda 3 mps, very underrated car, it may be 4 years old but the mid range performance is fantastic in any gear! also theirs a little torque steer but it is controlled and adds to the excitement and fun that hot hatches should have!

        • Monk

          3 MPS is as fun as funbags but it doesn’t stack up to these.

          • andy

            Yeah like “A” cups in the wet or “B” cups on a closing tight corner when understeer develops, enjoy the taste of the oncoming railing

        • andy

          Ha ha “also theirs a little torque steer but it is controlled and adds to the excitement and fun that hot hatches should have”  hello the 80’s just called and wanted your opinion back. Are you just mad or prefer shoddy engineering, perhaps you can enjoy the torque steer of an 84 Laser too

          • Zaccy16

            drive one and you will see what i mean, it has great handling but a tug on the wheel at hard acceleration, nothing dangerous or like a 84 laser!

          • Zaccy16

            was playing golf at the local par 3 after work today and a black 3 mps gave it the beans up bridge street near the course and it was flying! they sound good also

    • Yelp

      CA did do a comparison of the Ford Focus ST, Renault Megane RS265 and VW Golf GTI a while back.

      • Deutsch

        But it would have been good to see them all up against each other, in the opinion of course of CA!

  • Hung Low

    Very fair and balanced review Daniel, with actual fuel consumption disclosed.

    • $29896495

      Which was pretty bad all things considered.

      • Sam

         For the performance these vehicles deliver, the consumption figures werent that bad.  They were driven by motoring editors after all.  Im sure they were not going easy on them.

        • TilWI

           It’s funny how huwtm feels the need to say the consumption was “pretty bad” when in the Chery J3 review, he felt the need to defend it’s 12.2L100km consumption which “all things considered” (~150kgs lighter & ~3x less power with only 86KW) is far worse.

          • $29896495

            Well  15 lt per 100 on the open road, still seems pretty poor to me. Though the best figure wasn’t given nore the city figure. 

            On the other hand the Cherry was driven in high summer in the City as specified in the story. Not brilliant numbers but again we only got one figure. That cars down fall is the size of the vehicle, and the lack of size of the engine. Thus it had to work  hard to move the body around.

            The exact opposite of these cars. But we are just given one figure, not city, then highway, then an average. The Cherry being a seventh or more of the price of these cars and aimed at people who just want some transport, you make allowances. 

            These are supposed to be state of the art and should do better. And may well do, but we only have what is written to go by.

          • TilWI

             Yet even going on whats been written, you feel you must say these cars are bad for economy but the Chery J3 has a excuse?
            It’s not exactly open road either, it appears to be the Goulburn to Oberon road which is extremely steep and narrow in places and has hairpins. Plus the pic of the BMW sideways and all the stationary photos show they were going for it and regularly stopping for photos and if your worried that the Chery has to work hard in the city, how hard do you think it’s going to work on this route?

            The Chery is one of the worst cars around today and these four are some of the better ones. I think you’ve got your favoritism around the wrong way.

          • $29896495

            Of course it’s open road, the difference being , it’s not stop start traffic. Doesn’t matter where it is could be the Bells Line of road, the same conditions exist and I can tell you, climbing that road at a brisk pace still produces better economy that city driving.

            Cherry again, really? You have a real bee in your bonnet about that company don’t you! Did they turn you down for finance? It’s a pointless exercise trying to draw comparisons with these cars, as anyone with a brain cell would realize. But obviously you don’t.

            Any car that doesn’t have to continually stop start with an underpowered engine will improve on economy on any stretch of open road. 

            You know, it just occurred to me, with your ludicrous picking. You wouldn’t have been going for finance, because you can’t and obviously don’t drive. You have NO awareness of what it actually is to drive a car long distances or in traffic or just for fun. So go back to stroking your bus pass and come back when you have some experience.

          • Til

             Try doing some track days then, there’s no stop/start there (by the way, BMWs have stop/start shutoff anyway) and see if you can get city economy, cars easily get 30L100km the norm on track and you can get close to that on windy rural roads when trashing too. Cant get anywhere near that in city driving.
            The worst economy I ever got was driving through Galston Gorge flat out late at night, got 34L100km but only 30L100km on track days as tracks dont have uphill hairpins and one lane bridges, city never goes over 13L100km in the same BMW – which ironically is similar to what the Chery got in the city.
            Not trying to draw comparison between any cars anyway, merely your ridiculous and biased view of their economy – they got figures that are perfectly in line with the apparent driving style and conditions.

        • andy

          Are you kidding, I upgraded my ECU on a modern turbo 1.5 and often drive it 0-100 in 6.1 sec (and my fuel has NEVER gone over 8.4l/100)…think mini Evo with 150kw..

  • Lamcer

    Mitsubishi Lancer just not winnng the competiion it should win i cannot understand these

    • Lindsay

      I think what happened was that they came to their conclusions by testing the cars rather than reading internet forums.

  • 62mch

    Add the Mercedes A45 AMG to the comparison later in the year please!  

  • that camera guy

    What for you use flash on the Golf R interior shot and not on any of the other interiors? It makes the interior look far worse than it actually is! Or maybe that was your point, in highlighting the “generic golf” look and feel?

  • Guest

    Thanks for the comparison.  A decent review but, and I’m trying to find another way to say “Stop writing like a douche talks”, could you lessen the ridiculous phrasing/expressions and express the facts and your opinions in a more professional manner?

    • Golfschwein

      Perhaps a community newspaper is more your thing. I think – last time I looked, anyway – that this is called journalism.

      • Guest

        If you want to read this mess and call it caviar, that’s fine.  I’ve read better by DeGasperi.

        • $29896495

          He’s trying to put some personality in his writing, like the old boys did at wheels. Just hasn’t mastered it yet.

          • Guest

            Hence the feedback! Daniel, I was probably a little ott earlier but, in my opinion, it wouldn’t hurt to turn the volume down a notch.  Best of luck with your next piece!

            I completely agree with your assessment of the R, by the way – unfortunately I’m in the position of owning one.  For those in the market, I wish I’d either: 1) saved myself a bit of cash and picked a GTi, or 2) been forever in the wife’s bad books and traded in my 225 for a 250/265 (less practical, and that Cup chassis is not passenger friendly!).

          • Lindsay

            Wheels was terrible to read too.

            The next time someone refers to the steering wheel as a “tiller” I’m going to lose it.

            If you have to remind yourself that you’re not reading Troy Queef, it’s all gone wrong.

          • $29896495

            A lot of young writers either go too far one way or too far the other. Something like this, it’s good to have a little informality. But you have to temper it. It was probably a bit pushed on this story, and I don’t think he has a real editor to guide him. Possibly?

      • matt

        rofl, modern media is journalism to you?

        • Golfschwein

          Okay, it’s not a patch on LJK Setright, but who is? Let’s just say points for trying. In a world of rofl text speak, I’m giving it three and a half stars, Margaret.

    • Steve

      Couldn’t agree more. Reading all the weird phrasing throughout this article was just cringe-inducing and more than once I had to re-read a section to figure out what the author was trying to get across. Tone it back a bit, please…

  • m135i

    ugly? i know its subjective but i cant understand how you can say the bm is ugly when you are standing in front of it. it looks like a refined beast

    • $29896495

      The front is just woeful. Headlight grill arrangement and all that metal or plastic – looks like that guy that drew it up lost interest. It is an improvement over the Bangle era, but not by much.

      • m135i

        like i said, its subjective

    • F1orce

      The 1-series a ‘refined beast’ ??

      Hahaaaaa gimmi a break!

      • m135i

        i didnt say the 1 series
        i said the m135i
        its not the prettiest car in the world. but i dont think its ugly. and it has a presence on the road. and, as per the review, will smoke most cars in its range.
        hence, ‘refined beast’
        i should write greeting cards

    • Zaccy16

      i agree, seen one in local BMW dealer in blue and it looks great

  • $29896495

    CA improving on the data panel, but stil needs dimensions and weights to complete the story.

  • Bigmanhaz

    The idea of a “best sports car under $100,000″ that doesn’t feature a Megane RS 265, or 86/BRZ is an absolute disgrace! I am not amused

    • Sam

      Call a waaaambulance!   Besides, if you really think an 86 could hold a candle to a M135i you have lots of catching up to do!

      • F1orce

        But it’ll beat everything below the straight-6

        • Sydlocal

          I don’t know. The higher end turbo 4 BMWs go quite well ie 328i.

          • Zaccy16

            yep, that engine goes well in the heavier 5 series too!

    • $29896495

      Lets face it, these aren’t sports cars. Mostly they are a mix of performance sedans and EU hot hatches. It’s a price comparison more than anything. Autos and 4 doors do not a sports car make.

      • Phil

        unfortunately, that’s the way of car comparos now. If you want a comparison of 2 seater sports coupes they’d give you a 370z and an SS ute…

      • Dave W

        Still trying to push the classic definition of a sports car aye? Despite the fact that many modern coupes don’t really fulfill the 2-seater prerequisites anymore.

        I personally am glad they make practical 4 door sports cars.

        • $29896495

          I personally like two doors. Don’t need four, don’t want them, in fact, a lot of the medium to small cars would be better with two doors, the rear seats are often unusable, and most people don’t carry more than themselves most of the time, so why put more weight in the car.  

          • Dave W

            The back of the WRX and Evo are most definitely usable for trips up to an hour, eg. Sydney to Central Coast.

            Think of it as a sports car for the more social people who like to go on trips with mates. I’ve had a 2 door hatchback before, it was a pain in the backside to get out of for the passengers, specially for my larger sized mates.

      • TilWI

         Well we know you like cheap cars and there are still a few of those Suzuki Cappacino or Daihatsu Copens going around. Two seat roadsters and CHEAP, perfect car for you. T
        hey’d tide you over under Chery or Great Wall make a cheap sports car for you.

        • $29896495

          Your comments are a pointless waste of your time and ours. If you are so keen on attacking my comments, check out Astra GTC OPC and many others, and stop wasting everyone’s time.. 

          • Deutsch

            This has to be Sgh yeah?

          • $29896495

            yeah I it is.

          • Lit

             Piping up about how the number of doors and the type of gearbox define a sports car is a waste of time.
            These auto four doors are far more of a sports car than a Suzuki Capacinno or Copen, but you failed to get the point of course.

          • $29896495


          • Zaccy16

            yep i agree

          • matt

            “Your comments are a pointless waste of your time and ours.” ………….. classic projection

          • $29896495

            It’s the truth about you and your alter egos.

  • James Cortez

    What a foolish comparison, you guys run out of topics. First of all the BMW is way more expensive. Secondly you compare a 3 lt turbo vs 2 lt turbo. If you use your head ut’s like comparing a welterweight (147 lbs) versus a muscular heavyweight (220 lbs). 220/147 is teh same as 3/2. No matter how good a welterwieight boxer like Sugar Ray Leonard or Floyd Mayweather tehre is now way they can beat Joe Frazier or Holyfield. Where is your commonsense?? 

    • TilWI

       Where’s your commonsense? These are 235KW vs 221KW vs 217KW vs 188KW cars. None of those are the same as 3/2 which would equal about 135KW.
      The 2.0 Turbos are putting out similar power to the 3.0. The Mercedes A45 is also 2.0 and it puts out even more power than BMW’s 3.0 so what sort of whinging are you going to do then?

      • James Cortez

        To put similar number they have to work harder, higher boost which affects longevity! Got it spongebob?? 3/2 is their displacement ratio. 3 lt/2lt. 2 lt can put similar displacament but ultimately the bigger the engine the more torque and power. Enough lesson for today!

        • Piy

          Who cares if they’re working harder to get similar numbers? The engine can be made stronger to cope with it. Durability does not depend on how much power is going through the engine, rather how strong the engine actually is. A 5.0 engine with only 50Kw should last forever according to your analogy but it won’t if it’s made of plastic.
          The power output is what matters here and they were reasonably similar.
          Again, the Mercedes A45 has 265KW from a 2.0 and everyone will be comparing it to the 3.0 BMW. That will surely get you chasing your tail.

          • $29896495

            Please refer to the comment you are replying to for how things actually work. General consensus is N/A engines will out last turbos.

            “Notable among them is BMW, which faced a class action lawsuit in 2010 over its N54 engine used in 2007-2012 1 Series, 3 Series, 5 Series, X6, and Z4 models. Allegedly, the high-pressure fuel pump has a very high failure rate and some owners say that a defect in turbo charger’s design requires a tweak so they don’t run at full capacity.BMW had to extend the warranty coverage on its 2007-2010 vehicles to 10 years, or 120,000 miles and later announced a recall of vehicles with the pump in question”

            “Advancements have been made, although as is evidenced with BMW, with more complex engines come more complex problems.” 

          • Piy

            So cars cannot be compared against each other if there is a “general consensus” that one might outlast another?

            Besides, why bring up problems with the BMW, it’s the big engine here, so it should have the best longevity according to you and James.

          • $29896495

            What I placed in my response was to prove your assertion wrong. I think it does what it is required to do with out being a smart a** about it

            You seem to have forgotten that your point was that turbos are reliable, that proves otherwise and if you actually read the story, you would see that the BMW engine has a turbo, thus making it relevant.

            Our point is that non turbo engines that are less stressed and more efficient will drive better and have greater longevity.

          • Piy

            Where on earth did I say turbos were more reliable?
            Where did I even hint at that?
            The supposed ‘point’ made by James was that these cars should not be compared because one is 3/2 larger than the others. I have attempted to point out that they are comparable because the power outputs are similar and the power outputs are what really matter. Aside from that, they are ALL turbo anyway and there are no non-turbo engines here.
            So to repeat myself, my point here is that these cars ARE comparable because they have fairly similar power outputs.
            Furthermore, as I’ve already said, longevity of the engines has nothing to do with this car comparison. Aside from that, as again, I’ve already said, the smaller turbo engines could have stronger engine blocks to balance out the extra stress. Also the two highest strung engines here are Japanese and in a discussion earlier in the year, you refused to believe there were any unreliable Japanese engines, so these highly strung 2.0 Turbos must surely be very reliable in your mind.

          • $29896495

            Read the quote it’s completely clear. You don’t like it, tough, it’s the way it is. To remind you, you were arguing that turbos had as much if not more reliability han N/A engines. Obviously to anyone, that isn’t the case. You want a turbo car go buy one, I’m not stopping you, even though you are wrong on the reliability issue. 

            Trying to make out you wrote something else when it is above in black and white just shows you aren’t that bright. Good luck with your turbo, you’ll need it.

          • Piy

             Nowhere was I “arguing that turbos had as much if not more reliability han N/A engines.”.
            I asked you where I said it and you failed to tell me.

            Try “remind” me, go on, find the “quote” and copy and paste it below.

            Your wrong on so many levels:
            1. A turbo engine CAN be as durable if the engine is made proportionately stronger to suit. Note “CAN” not “is”.
            2. Listing a particular problem, with a particular turbo engine, from a particular brand, on a particular engine line as you did with the BMW recall does not “prove” turbo engines on the whole are unreliable, it merely highlights a singular issue with a singular engine. Does a single problem with a N/A engine highlight that all N/A engines are unreliable?
            3. The durability or reliability of a turbo vs N/A engine has NOTHING to do with this car comparison as they are ALL TURBO!
            4. The durability or reliability of ANY engine has nothing to do with this car review as they are not testing durability or reliability.
            5. The original comment was that these cars cannot be compared because of a engine size difference. The point is that YES, they can be compared because the engine output is what matters and they are fairly similar in outputs.

          • The Real Wile E

            The BMW fuel pump issue had nothing to do with durability.
            Previous versions of the 35i engine (turbos) did not have the problem.They changed the fuel pump and the problem went away.Engine durability did not change with or without the dud fuel pump..
            Durability is more linked to compression ratios and quality of engine build

          • James Cortez

            yes Id***s don’t care cause they simply can’t apply  their brain power / lack of power. Any smaller displacement trying to compete with a bigger displacement will always endure more stress on the engione component. Simple rationale. Do you have it?

          • Tiy

             Hate to break it to you, but this is a sports car comparison not a engine component stress test.

          • matt

            it was good rationale in the 60’s champ, not really applicable today… see the manufacturer’s tend to learn things over 50 years while making performance engines.

      • Zaccy16

        yep, james has a very old way of thinking that displacement is king but as we know its tuning thats king!

  • JamesB

    The M135i isn’t gorgeous, but still heaps better looking than the Subaru, the design of which seemingly derived from the previous generation 1 Series. XDrive should be offered later on.

  • Antmindel

    All of them are ugly,but I think the best looking of this bunch is the Evo…

  • Hashbrown

    Install an aftermarket suspension on the STI and it drives so much better.

    And Caradvice did a similar test a few years back and the outcome was… each car STI / Evo / Golf R appealed to different people enough saying the choice is highly dependent on the driver and driver’s taste.

    Whats the point of doing this re-test?

    Did BMW pay Caradvice a big chunk of cash to rehash a comparison as part of their marketing?
    its not even subtle anymore.

    all of the above 4 cars are different enough to attract different buyers. Two are 4WD hatches STI and R, one is a appealing more to the japanese tuner type and the other for the elegant and conservative type.

    The EVO is a friggin sedan obviously trying to attract people who was into the previous EVOs and people who dont want a hatch style…. the BMW is a RWD hatch that has a sedan sister and is released 4 years after the STI and the Golf R.

    I just dont see the point of the comparison… considering the STI is on its way out this year and same with the Golf R with the new one coming out early next year.

    And why are car advice’s reviews are inconsistent to other reviews online?

    • Dave W

      Yeap. Both the current Evo X and WRX are old cars. 2007 if I’m not mistaken. I wouldn’t bother comparing them when the new ones are coming soon.

      That said, it’s interesting to see that these venerable metal steeds can still keep up with the newer metals.

    • Daniel DeGasperi

      Hashbrown, CarAdvice is an independent motoring authority, and our decision to do this comparison test – and all other comparison tests – is strictly an editorial decision. This comparison test was released on our iPad magazine on February 1st for the Feb/March edition of the magazine. When the next edition of the magazine is released, tests are put on the website – hence sometimes there is a delay. We aim to regularly test different segments and price points of the market – go to our Car Reviews / Car Comparisons tab at the top of the page, and you will see that we have recently done a circa-$45K hot hatch comparison. At the other end of the scale, we’ve conducted a $200K sports sedan comparison. This is a circa-$75K performance car comparison, with the catalyst being the release of the BMW M135i. We will continue our expanding our comparison tests to ensure buyers of all budgets, and in all segments, are catered for with the most thorough assessment and advice. Cheers,

      • Zaccy16

        yep, i don’t know why he is complaining, you have been doing some great comparisons recently, keep up the good work

    • http://www.caradvice.com.au/ Alborz Fallah

      Hashbrown, as the author of that original article you are referencing, the times have changed. The Japanese have fallen behind in many respects and the European cars have become far more affordable.

      In saying that and for the sake of clarification, BMW is actually the ONLY company in the top 30 manufacturers in Australia that doesn’t advertise on our website – everyone else does (and,  of course, it has no reflection on our content). So if you think we are on the take, then god help us cause we are pretty hopeless at it! 

    • The Real Wile E

      Hey don’t you think that there are people  in the market for a performance car in this size and price range right now and would cross shop these?
      And what about people who might be just generally interested in the results?Is your view tainted because you own one of the ageing Japanese contenders which are now second rate or are you just a BMW hater or both?You really think you have it all worked out with your generalisations (“for the elegant and conservative type”..ha..ha.. but you make absolutely no sense at all…which I will hand it to you is at least consistent with your other posts.

  • Chaitanya Kumar Samardhi

    Should have compared the RS 265 as well. Wheels compared the BMW and the Megane recently, so it would have been well worth bringing in the Meg. Besides the BMW is way more expensive than any other car here. It costs almost twice as much as the meg.

  • observer

    Can’t wait to see what the new RS Focus will do.

  • Automobilia

    HAHAHAHA I love reading these bogan comments from most prob ricers who own busted up Silvia’s and think that an ironing board is a wing! None have drive or will get a chance to drive any of these great cars and yet comment like experts. Become real car testers, engineers or even designers THEN comment. Otherwise I hear Super cheap have a sale on pleather and fake carbon cannon mufflers better scoop down in the old rice cookers!!! Please leave comments for the ppl that appreciate cars LOL…

  • Mcl334

    And the Meg’s twice the car it will pound the others into submission its relentless it never quits
    doesn’t fade all day long, That i can attest to…

  • Dave

    The BMW is the most ugly car. But actually drive one, and all of a sudden it looks incredibly pretty. I hated them with a passion. Then I drove one … Now there’s one sat on my drive.

    • m135i

      here here
      same thing happened to me :)

  • Car Fanatic

    I think Hashbrown has had too much hash and no brown. Clownboy!

    I’d pick the Bimmer over the others, we had a 330i back in 03 in the UK and despite being along way off the current 135 for performance and handling, it was still a tasty car.

    • Hashbrown

      you cant afford a 135i series and only had an old 330i, yet call me clownboy.
      I made the comment because to me its illogical comparison. I have an STI
      hatch, I bought it as a practical weekender to put the bikes on the roof
      racks, tow the jetski and luggage bags in the boot. And I also have a 2nd
      hand Lexus ISF as my daily driver to work which is novated leased. My wife
      drives a Q3 so I’m no euro hater, but I just dont see the fairness of the
      review. 4WD hatches are not just for hoons, but for people who want an all
      rounder with guts. If I’m a clownboy I dont even know what you are.

  • ead

    I’m just happy to see the subi at the bottom. But subi owners by all means keep defending the beloved scoobi doos .. after all you’re helping build more respect for the nicer cars out there including the evo 😉

  • Car Fanatic

    Hashbrown, I’m intelligent and logical.

  • Thy

    I don’t know a single evo owner who does not at least tune the car and add $2K in bolt-on parts (turbo back exhaust, intake, and so forth).  Suddenly, the car has 330 HP at the wheels.  Spend another 2K and swap out the turbo / injectors / fuel pump, and you have 400 hp at the wheels.  These cars are super easy to tune and gain power.  The engines are bullet-proof, too.  If you build the engine (sleeves, cams, stroker kit), then you are in insane 700 + hp land.  The record is 908 hp at the wheels (on a 2.0 L engine).

    • Turbdodewd

      No engine is bulletproof per se.  The laws of physics still apply. If you put more power thru something you lessen its durability unless you strengthen it.

      The drivetrain will eventually give up after X amount of 3000rpm clutch dump starts.  Its normal and to be expected.

  • LeStori

    I will stick to my slow Alfa 1750 QV. these might be faster but they all look like what the Dog licks….

  • Turbdodewd

    Is there a law against vibrant colors with these brands?!  Does a cardigan ship with each?

  • NinjaStroke

    I see alot of People using the Mitsuibishi Lancer Evo as their daily drivers for office(9-5) commute, but here you insist that the BMW M135i offers better ride comfort, how?

  • Guest

    Would love to see this comparo again with all the new cars. Not sure about the BMW or Mitsu, but the 2015 WRX STI and MK7 Golf R are supposed to be a whole lot better these days. Cheers from America!

  • Shawn Poorman

    Would love to see this comparo again with all the new cars. Not sure about the BMW or Mitsu, but the 2015 WRX STI and MK7 Golf R are supposed to be a whole lot better than their predecessors reviewed here. Cheers from America!

  • Hung Low

    The Vw, the only 4 banger here equipped with D.I still has the lowest power output, the least performance yet the heaviest on fuel. It also has the dud Awd system of the bunch, what a mistake replacing the R32 with this.

  • Rocket

    Inline 6 with a ZF transmission is a winner again.

  • Sydlocal

    …until the mechatronics etc fail… They are not what you call the most reliable transmission. Especially with their ‘life time fill’ transmission oil…

  • Barry

    With you Rocket.Allways liked the WRX,but the Bmw is the pick of the bunch.Even with the price difference.

  • Zaccy16

    what does that combo remind u off? a certain car that is made in aus!

  • qikturbo

    I would rather take my chances with the auto rather than the DSG.

  • Jack

    The mechatronics unit is what fails on a dsg transmission. The ZF doesn’t have that problem.

  • $29896495

    Yeah, miss the R32. Wasn’t that the old Golf tested, though? 

  • Captain Nemo®™

    Exactly well said  Hung Low
    Also strange how a certain troll on this site claims his stage 1 chipped 190kW 400Nm VeeDud Rolf would sip just 8L/100km combined even when he gave it a caning through the back roads.
    I know he said it wasn’t a AWD Rolf R which is heavier than a GTi,
    but this test proves a Rolf driven enthusiastically will gulp down the juice and not sip fuel like he claims. 

  • Zaccy16

    it should have 200 kw and more torque but it has the ‘hot weather climate tune’ the new R looks like a beast and should have around the 220 kw mark

  • Sydlocal

    I am sorry Jack, but ZF transmissions DO have that problem, with some mechatronic units failing at quite low mileages. Just go to any BMW forum and you will see quite a few cases of ZF transmissions failing with the cause usually being the mechatronics unit. I guess you may have to tell my wife that it wasn’t the mechatronics unit that had to be replaced in her 89,000km BMW a few weeks ago! The 6HP26 as one example (used in Falcon/Territory, many BMWs, Jags, Rolls Royce etc) has been known to have the mechatronics unit fail.  
    There are quite a few cases of this happening in the Falcon/Territory as well. Whenever the ZF fails, that is usually the first place they go to. In fact it would almost give the DSG a run for its money when it comes to failures!

  • Rocket

    No one says a ZF transmission is bullet proof. Like any gearbox there are premature failures but this test shows again how good they are to drive. If there is a better gearbox on the market I would like to know what is?

  • TilWI

     Just save yourself $4000 and any reliability troubles by getting the standard manual.

  • Jack

    I had no idea! Sorry to hear about your bimmer, I thought the mechatronics unit failures were prone to Volkswagen Group vehicle, not so much ZF.

  • Sydlocal

    I would have gotten a manual for the Mrs if she was actually comfortable driving one around town TilWl! 
    Thanks Jack. Luckily it was covered under warranty! Rocket, I am not denying the ZF is a great transmission. It is excellent when working (much like BMWs!). Very smart and always seems to know which gear to use and at what time. I must admit, when it comes to conventional torque converter autos I found the one in the new Mazda6 pretty darn good and more than a match for the ZF in some areas ie even more positive in feel/shift action due to the torque converter being locked more of the time. It worked extremely well with the diesel. Its shift feel and speed is somewhere between the 6HP26 ZF and a DSG without all the jerkiness of a DSG at slow speeds. When it was in a gear it felt a lot like a manual when on and off the throttle. I actually thought it was a good compromise and a step in the right direction. Time will tell if it is durable enough. It shouldn’t be too bad as it is still a conventional automatic, it just has a different torque converter and if there are going to be any issues I would say that would it…

  • qikturbo

    The ZF is far superior to ANY crappy DSG from the overrated VWs 

  • gtrxuone

    Captain Nemo golfmother had a Gti.But his other name stop-the-boats he drove a 335i Bma,like above.

  • Monk

    And rocks!

  • Sumpguard

      “Hot weather climate tune” is a political way of saying it wasn’t engineered properly to begin with just like Toyota’s rav4 diesel.

  • Dave W

    Is this a new fad trying to sound smart without saying anything useful at all?

  • Dave W

    I don’t think the M badge means anything really. Any car maker can make an awesome car if they aren’t limited by a budget.

    The Japanese had been hit hard by GFC, tsunami/nuclear disaster and the rise of the yen value. You can tell when a car company is struggling, they usually withdraw from motorsports and their cars also suffer.

    That’s why the WRX and Evo hasn’t been updated for so long. Wait until the new WRX is launched next year.