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Owner Review

2020 BMW 1 M135i xDrive review

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Probably the most hated 1 Series ever made but I could beg the differ. I think it's better.

The new 1 Series is a step ahead of its predecessor in some areas; yes it's lost the beautiful B58 and has switched to a transverse layout, but it gains an AWD system too. This won't just be a comparison to the old one but also a review of the car for what it is - a well-handling and quick hatch.

Lets start with the front end; I honestly can't see much wrong with it in the MSPORT package, and if you pick the right colour the car is fine to look at - just avoid getting a 1 Series in white and with that toothy chrome grille (118i), otherwise you'll have Bruce the Shark on wheels. My advice with the M135i is to pick your colours and trims correctly, and it won't look so subjective at all. Furthermore you can black the car out completely and it looks great.

The rear end is perfect, I feel. I won't touch base on that too much, but I just wish it had square exhaust tips and not round.

The Interior

The interior is this car's strongest point and its predecessors biggest downfall. I'm just going to be point blank here; the interior of the old 1 Series was pathetic for a car that once had an $80k - $90k price tag RRP. The current generation's interior is leaps and bounds ahead and it looks great. You have mood lights throughout the car that appear in some abstract form and not just light strips like other cars. The infotainment system is great too and I like the dash cluster layout, however sometimes the voice activation can be hit-and-miss if the car doesn't have proper phone signal coverage. The interior is probably one of the best in class and it makes cars like the Golf R look dated and cheap.

As for cars like the Merc A-Class, I absolutely detest that tablet-style dash/info screen across the dashboard. To me it looks lazy and just felt like Merc wanted to shove a TV in the dash. I wanted a car, not Harvey Norman on wheels.

I absolutely love the seats in the BMW M135i. They are as hard as they look in the photos but that's expected. Great quality leather too.

The drive (Handling and drivetrain)

It handles very well and confidently. The B58 might be gone but its little sister is under the bonnet - the B48, which is a complete carbon copy of the B58. Get a B58 and chop away two cylinders, and there's your B48. They are nearly identical. Both engines are showing a good reliability track record so far. The B48, like its sibling, is a closed deck block and in addition to its strengths, it has lost that pathetic electric water pump setup and gone back to conventional belt-driven design.

The car is still quick, albeit a touch slower then the previous generation but it's still good for what it is. BMW claims a 4.8 second 0-100km/h, which is tangible but you need to set the car on every performance setting to reach that. My car personally feels like 4.9 to 5ish seconds when launching it on Sports mode (depending on the weather too), but in Comfort or Eco mode it will bomb out at 5.8 - 5.5 seconds without doing anything special. So for max performance just leave it in Sports mode.

As for fuel economy, drive it hard and it drinks like a fish. Simple. Drive it normally and you'll get good results.

The transmission

If I were to tell you that this gearbox would be the least of your worries I wouldn't be joking. It's a normal torque-converted box, it's smooth and it's very well tuned. It doesn't fumble or hunt either and you'd mistaken it as a ZF, but it's not. The 8-speed transmission in this car is the very same Aisin/Toyota group gearbox found in the humble Kluger, Lexus RX and Camry V6. I would not look at this as a bad thing at all, as you now have a German car with a piece of Japanese reliability, and you don't have any ridiculous dual-clutch setups to worry about, unlike other German rivals where a DCT is controversial.

The performance of the Aisin is fine and BMW have utilised it very well, and like I've said before BMW are absolute geniuses when it comes to the harmonics between the gearbox and the engine combination. The performance of this 8-speed and the rest of their other torque-converted boxes (ZF) will make DCT a distant memory.

The AWD system

I get it, not many people like FWD cars and everyone misses the RWD layout, but honestly with the xDrive system you will not miss the old model. There is such a minute touch of torque steer when you mash it, but it's quickly resolved when the car sends power to the back - which it does often.

You'll have confidence in the wet, around corners and through S-bends. You can flog this car around any twisting road and you'll remain confident.

Conclusion

The BMW M135i is the model to go for. The looks are great (just get the trim and colour combo right), it's fast and the interior space is nice. It's much better balanced then it's old model, but a lot of people will argue that the previous generation had more soul. Let me put it to you this way, it's still fast and it's just been more modernised to the world around us, but a soulless car wouldn't have 225kW, 450Nm or an AWD system.

This car has become more premium than ever and it shows. The old model would be comparable to a Ford Falcon - it has your best interests at heart but doesn't show it (interior).

For me personally, I bought the car for what it is. It does everything I want it to do. It's quick, it's got good interior looks/space and I couldn't care less if there's another car brand who makes a hot hatch that's 0.1 of a second quicker. Someone will always bring out something new every six months. That's life.


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