A BMW where value for money really does apply
When the M135i was launched in 2012 it cost about Â£30,000 in its most basic form, but those who couldnâ€™t resist ticking boxes could add another Â£10,000 to that bill. Now, about five years later, you can pick up an early example for only about Â£13,000. And itâ€™s quite a package.
The 3.0-litre straight six turbocharged petrol engine could get you to 62mph in less than five seconds. It was seen as an M Performance model, which meant you didnâ€™t get the full-fat limited-slip diff, but BMWâ€™s M division had tuned the suspension so you had plenty to play with.
Even then standard kit included a 6.5-inch infotainment system with BMWâ€™s superlative iDrive. By 2015 sat nav became standard (hence the M135i Nav moniker) and power went up a bit to 321bhp. Most cars came with the auto transmission as many buyers were entranced by the idea of the paddles, so the six-speed manual â€“ which actually isnâ€™t as economical â€“ is a rarer find on the used market.
Although you could argue that this model looks from the outside like fairly sensible family transport, in reality it was a riot to drive and you could get yourself into all kinds of drama if you were heavy with the right foot. The rear wheels could be lit up and traction wasnâ€™t exactly a strong point on wet roads.
Some models out there will have been tweaked, with power going up to about 400bhp, but really youâ€™d want to see some suspension upgrades to go with that. The stability control can get overworked, which youâ€™ll see by knackered rear brakes, which are controlled by the stability control.
Generally, reliability is good, although the engine could have problems with the water pump and thermostat. Wheel bearings can be overstressed by all that performance, and that performance can lead to crash damage â€“ the most likely cause of any rust you see. Check carefully, particularly the front end.
The area most likely to cause heartache is all the electronics. This applies in spades to gadgets like the iController or the head-up display if fitted. Theyâ€™re the sort of things that cost a lot to get replaced and can still lead to problems as they donâ€™t integrate with original equipment.
But, generally, youâ€™re getting a lot of performance and handling for your money, in a car that seems pretty sorted out of the box. You could get a 2012 up to a 2014 model going probably the second time round the clock for Â£12,500 to Â£15,000.
Add another Â£1000 and you can knock that mileage back to around 60,000, but the sweet spot is really Â£16,000 to Â£18,000, where youâ€™ll find lots of low-mileage 2013 or 2014 cars in terrific condition.
For top money, in the Â£20,000 to Â£24,000 category, youâ€™ll get the facelifted 2015 model.