BMW M135i: Bavarian hot-hatch scorches S3

The BMW M135i is now on sale in Australia, marking an ominous return to the premium hot-hatch market for the German manufacturer.
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Sitting proudly at the top of the BMW 1 Series line-up with a starting price of $68,400 before on-road costs, the five-door-only M135i is $25,600 pricier than the conventional 118i hatch, but more than accounts for the difference with its added performance.

The BMW M135i’s 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six petrol engine is identical to that used in the $178,300 BMW 640i coupe, making it an unbeatable bang-for-you-buck prospect.

The engine produces 235kW of power at 5800rpm and a menacing 450Nm of torque between a tremendously broad 1250-5000rpm rev range.

Teamed with the standard six-speed manual transmission, the M135i launches from 0-100km/h in 5.1 seconds and goes on to a hit an electronically limited top speed of 250km/h. The optional $4000 eight-speed automatic returns even sharper figures, however, hitting triple digits in just 4.9 seconds. It also uses less fuel over the combined cycle, rated at 7.5 litres per 100km versus 8.0L/100km for the manual.

The M135i’s M-tuned sports suspension and variable sports steering system can both be controlled by the driver to deliver the desired ride and handling characteristics.

The dynamics package is supported by an M Sport brake system – incorporating four-piston fixed callipers at the front and two-piston fixed callipers at the rear, all finished in dark blue metallic paint – and 18-inch alloy wheels shod with 225/40R18 high-performance tyres at the front and 245/35R18 rubber at the rear.

Visually, the BMW M135i is distinguished by its M aerodynamics body kit, anthracite roof liner, door sills with M badging, leather upholstery on the sports seats and the M leather steering wheel.

Bi-xenon headlights, expanded Bluetooth connectivity with voice control, and the interior lighting package headline the standard features list.

The M135i becomes the third model in BMW Australia’s new M Performance Automobile range, joining the BMW X5 M50d and BMW X6 M50d triple-turbo sports SUVs.

Its closest competitor in Australia is the Audi S3 Sportback. The Audi is $600 cheaper at $67,800 and features the brand’s quattro all-wheel-drive system, but is significantly less powerful than its Bavarian rival, trailing the M135i by 47kW and 120Nm.