Can the replacement for the M135i keep its mojo?
We loved the BMW M135i. It may not have been a full M-car, but it had a superb balance of qualities that made it a wonderful hot hatch. So why has BMW replaced it?
The reality seems to be that the company has updated it rather than done a major rethink. The badging has changed, and with it so has power, up 14bhp to 335bhp. However, the chassis has only had the mildest of upgrades, so one wonders if an opportunity has been missed to better take on rivals like the Honda Civic Type R and the Seat Leon Cupra 290.
Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged straight six petrol
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Top speed 155mph
Fuel economy: 39.8mpg (combined)
CO2 emissions: 163g/km
It’s fast, no doubt about it. That wonderful sounding 3.0-litre straight six pours in the power, to the extent that it can give some traction problems. With no proper limited-slip diff there is a bit of an overwhelming power surge at times. But get it all hooked up and you’re off like a missile.
What’s impressive is there is virtually no discernible turbo lag, meaning you can use the lower end of the rev range quite easily and instantly just as effortlessly as you can hammer in the final revs at the top end. This is a car that deserves its M badge, but it’s also a GT car when you want it. That’s just fabulous.
The only downside is that the car can struggle on a rough back road. The suspension, usually so supple, can be overcome with too many vertical movements coming too quickly. We’d recommend the optional adaptive dampers and in all other circumstances you have a controlled, pliant and comfortable ride considering what you’re driving. The Type R and the Cupra 290 don’t even come close in terms of comfort and sophistication in the chassis.
Overall that all makes this BMW a real giant-killer. The numbers are in its favour. The delightfully smooth and powerful six-cylinder engine. The slick and sophisticated eight-speed auto gearbox. And for £31,875 it may not be cheap but it feels like decent value for money.