The ultimate drivers hatchback search has been on for some years. A couple cars ago I had a 2008 STi, but had a job that needed 25,000kms of Sydney driving, and whilst a nice gearbox and not too bad ride, eventually went for a diesel auto Wrangler for a few years, then onto a BMW 130i that was also P plate compliant, so ticked the box of a capable track car and is still in the family with my son driving it.
In my humble opinion, there aren’t that many affordable driver’s cars. The Sti was so unbelievably surefooted, that it gave way too much confidence in pouring rain. The 130i on the other hand, was all about the driver, rear wheel drive, heavy steering and 195KW of six cylinder linear (non turbo) power delivery.
So a shortlist was made and test drove; Golf R, S3, A45 – whilst all good cars, their all wheel drive control, was not what I was after.
We also go away every long weekend, carrying surfboards and golf clubs plus I also cycle, the ability to carry a bike to some quiet roads is also important.
Drove a 370Z, but the lack of boot space was all that was missing from a near perfect car (have raised my back seat three times in 11 months).
Ended up buying a one year old M135 from Brisbane with 13,000kms. The frustrating thing about BMW is that they include more and more options as standard equipment the longer the model run goes. So things like Professional Navigation and upgraded stereo are now standard.
The navigation system, large screen and iDrive is tremendous and the Harman Kardon doesn’t disappoint.
Fortunately servicing for first four years is included, it’s an option that apparently can only be purchased when new. Have stopped off twice for free oil top ups in the 17,000kms have had the car and had one service – the service interval is calculated on the type of driving.
Having recently been to Eastern Creek for a BMW Experience Day, and driven the M2, I am more than happy with the M135’s performance. Despite supposedly being half a second quicker, the M2 felt behind the M3 when it comes to handling at speed, with the M3 much more surefooted and the M2 not that much more confidence inspiring than the M135.
Love the eight speed auto, very close ratios, regardless of the gear you’re in, the car just goes where you point it.
Adaptive suspension would be nice, but it’s made to handle, not be comfortable, however, the seats are firm and supportive, allow endless adjustments and all with seat memory.
Seen many Golf R’s and A45’s, a few S3’s and only a handful of RS3’s but nearly one year on, there is no buyers remorse with the M135, a car which does it all with good handling and more than enough power for plenty of smiles on your favourite back road.