I purchased the M135i when searching for a hot-hatch replacement to my Renault Megane RS250. After the test drive, there was no way I could not buy it. The power of a 3.0-litre turbocharged straight six with torque produced just off idle and an exhaust note to die for was a recipe for drool.
I was never, and still am not, a huge fan of the look as I generally like my cars to stand out a little more. The deal I struck was unbelievable, but it meant I had to take the showroom model with minimal options and in a colour I didn’t necessarily want. So it meant no Harmon Kardon sound, no electric seats, no reverse camera (although the sensor system is fantastic), and no adaptive suspension. All this did not matter once I started it up on a cold morning and heard the purr of the N55 engine. It was excruciatingly painful to 'run it in' for a few thousand kilometres without having a little fun.
Okay, now the only thing that matters... I’ve driven just about every hot hatch, and I never thought this would make my jaw drop. Well, it did! The 450Nm of torque is produced from around 1350rpm. The power delivery is ridiculous yet smooth. When driving in Sport+ mode, the pops and bangs on the overrun are music to my ears and so intoxicating.
The ZF eight-speed auto is proof that you do not need a DCT gearbox when this engineering marvel is available. Every gear pulls nicely all the way through the rev range, and the howl up high with the follow-up bang of the gear change gives a feeling of British Touring Car.
I managed to spruce it up with some fantastic M Performance upgrades including exhaust and 19-inch alloys that have finished off the car perfectly. The sound through narrow streets and tunnels is like a symphony of farts.
Before buying a BMW, many warned of the maintenance costs. What I can honestly say is that with the five-year $1500 service plan, it has actually been one of the cheapest cars I’ve had to maintain. The BMW service centre I use is outstanding, and a courtesy car and breakfast are provided for each occasion. The customer service staff listen, take notes and address any concern or issue that requires attention (even though over almost four years of ownership, all that went wrong is one small plastic stud on the bottom of the passenger seat needed refitting).
The most impressive part is the vehicle's all-round abilities. It fits my family of four in luxurious comfort, the ride is compliant and quiet when just driving to work or with the family, and the boot packs a fair load of kids' sports equipment and baggage.
My yardstick is my other half’s opinion, and generally it’s negative when it comes to hot hatches, but on this occasion as I near the end of my lease she asked, “why don’t you just replace it with the latest one of these”. Now there’s a tick of approval in my book!
I’m going to miss the M135i very much. I’m already struggling to find a suitable replacement that covers so many bases.
Enjoy your driving and be safe!