It’s no secret we love the 2018 BMW M140i. So much so, CarAdvice recently bought one. It’s a proper quick hot hatch and is a fun and affordable European option at around $60,000.
But is it comfortable enough to handle a 1400km round trip with its driver and two passengers?
This M140i here is not the car CarAdvice owns. That one is safely locked up in our Sydney garage. This car starts at $59,990 before on-roads, adding in options for metallic paint at $1190, electric glass sunroof at $2600, and lumbar support for the front seats at $403, bringing it to $64,183 before on-roads.
Features include front and rear park distance control, rear-view camera, forward collision warning, active LED headlamps, and lane departure warning.
My sister, her fiancé, and I decided to visit our parents' new house just south of Batemans Bay, in Moruya Heads in NSW. From Shepparton, Victoria, it’s a total of 669km each way with over seven hours of travelling without factoring in stops.
Three nights of luggage for three people was packed into the 320-litre boot surprisingly well. With the parcel shelf removed, a large suitcase for Kim and Tyson, and a smaller one for me, along with Mum’s breadmaker and smaller items filled every gap.
We discovered the boot needs a good slam to close it, after a situation the night before when Kim and I went to refuel it. Only one warning sounded when the car was started, and a ‘boot open’ light appeared, but they were the only warnings it gave us until 10 minutes down the road when the boot flew open while taking off at an intersection. Definitely a 'whoa' moment.
In a regional town, an M140i is a rare sight, and even more so at the Dog on the Tuckerbox stop where it attracted a small crowd amongst a sea of SUVs.
I’ve always believed BMW makes the best blue paint colours on the road, and this one with Estoril Blue, 18-inch black wheels and Ferric Grey mirror caps is no exception. It’s absolutely stunning.
We left at 5am, which was in the dark, so it was enough to see how the active headlights worked moving with the steering. High-beam lit up the road on the nervous one-hour drive through kangaroo country.
BMW's iDrive infotainment system is fantastic, and for Tyson who has never used it before, he found his way around it easily. However, we tried using voice input for the satellite navigation, and after eight attempts and a completely wrong town recognised, we resorted to manually entering it.
Seeing as it was the long weekend and traffic was mayhem, real-time traffic was helpful in finding other routes too.
Cabin space felt and looked cramped, with the glovebox lid nearly hitting the passenger's knees, and not much knee room for the driver.
The optioned lumbar support, particularly on the passenger seat, worked a treat, especially when my sister doesn’t travel too well. With 90km left of the trip, it was only at this point when our backs started to ache.
The two cupholders got a lot of use, but with only one USB connection in the whole car, we were lining up to charge our phones.
The centre console storage wasn’t huge, but still big enough to store food wrappers and a couple of phones. A 12-volt socket is found in there too.
Nineties tunes were pumped through the 12-speaker Harman Kardon system, and we noticed we couldn’t have it too loud as it started to get a tad tinny.
The back seat wasn’t designed for long journeys. It is stiff, and with the 18-inch wheels, jarring. Poor Tyson spent the majority of the trip in the back, as Kim couldn’t cope with the rough ride. But as we found out, he thought it wasn’t too bad, as he slept for a good couple of hours!
Leg room was tight, and that night Tyson mentioned his calves were sore (not related to his sleeping position, by the way).
Presumably, a person who would buy an M140i wouldn’t be carrying rear-seat passengers all the time. There are no USB/12-volt connections, or any door storage or map pockets, so a lot of the road trip stuff you typically accumulate in the back ended up on the floor or on the spare seat under the pillow. Although, rear ventilation is an added bonus.
Driving the BMW was addictive, even after hundreds of kilometres and many bathroom stops.
The 3.0-litre inline-six petrol engine hummed along on the freeway, and there was plenty of go when the throttle was applied. At 250kW of power and 500Nm of torque, the M140i is properly quick, taking Kim and Tyson by surprise with its 4.6-second race to 100km/h.
In Sport driving mode, it stiffens the suspension and the throttle response becomes more precise, and not to mention the sensational exhaust note is improved even more.
With a full load on board, it unsurprisingly impacted the performance, but we spent most of the time in Eco driving mode anyway, cutting back on the power and fuel consumption.
The eight-speed automatic transmission kept the revs low when cruising, and the paddle-shifters came into play when in Sport mode as it did hold on to the gears in high revs.
At 110km/h, cruise control got a workout, but it left me hanging for adaptive cruise control. Its braking function was incredible when we got closer to Moruya Heads with a 5km decline through the mountains. While there were dozens of drivers sitting on their brakes, I was barely using them.
The car's combined claimed fuel reading is 7.1L/100km, and the fuel economy we got was an impressive 7.2L/100km. Without one petrol stop, we arrived at our folks' place with a claimed 17km of range left, and when we filled it with $67 worth of petrol, it had 4L left in the 52L tank. Not bad for a hot hatch with a heavy load driving 669km.
Included in the purchase of the BMW is a three-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, and by purchasing the BMW Service Inclusive Package, servicing will cost $1340 for five years/80,000km. It is definitely worth considering, as it brings it to $268 a year. Pretty good for a European performance car.
The whole family, including my folks, loved the M140i. Its sound, power, and fuel economy made it a winner. However, on a long journey it can be rough, cramped and especially uncomfortable for back-seat passengers.