BMW M135i

3 Oct, 2012 6:45pm Richard Ingram

We've been behind the wheel of the storming new BMW M135i on British roads for the first time


With the M135i, BMW has created a very impressive all- round package. Acceleration is ferocious, but the car always feels planted and composed. The steering could do with more feel, but on the road, the M135i feels supple enough to be driven every day. The sub-£30k price is good value, too. Engaging to drive yet highly useable, it’s BMW at its best.

While the BMW M135i looks understated, it’s a brute of a car. Making 316bhp from its 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder engine, it eclipses the 276bhp Vauxhall Astra VXR and the 296bhp four-wheel-drive Audi S3 for horsepower.

And unlike those cars, the BMW is rear-wheel drive, so it should be the default choice for keen drivers who prefer to do without the safety net of four-wheel drive. But it’s no maniac – regardless of how hard you bury the throttle, the M135i remains composed, while the superb optional eight-speed automatic gearbox (£1,600) manages the power perfectly.

Unlike the raucous 1 Series M Coupe, this hatchback is very well suited to everyday driving. Just flick past the ECO-PRO and Comfort driving modes to Sport and you immediately notice the steering weight up and the throttle response sharpen.

Press the button once more and you’ll find Sport+, which partly disengages the traction control and further improves the hatchback’s driving dynamics.

Although devastatingly quick, the acceleration always feels manageable – it’s you driving the car, not the other way around. The 0-62mph sprint takes 4.9 seconds, which is only a tenth of a second slower than a Porsche 911.

The 135i looks the part, too. As with all M cars, its styling is discreet, not ostentatious. It gets a set of sculpted bumpers, side skirts with big creases and gaping air vents at the front. Ferric grey mirrors and chromed exhaust pipes complete the look.

At £29,995, the M135i costs more than most current hot hatches. But when you consider it’s £10,000 cheaper than the limited-run, 335bhp 1M Coupe, it looks like remarkable value.

Key specs

  • Price: £29,995
  • Engine: 3.0-litre 6-cyl turbo
  • Power/torque: 316bhp/450Nm
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
  • 0-62: 4.9 seconds
  • Top speed: 155mph
  • Economy: 37.7mpg
  • CO2: 175g/km
  • Equipment: 18-inch alloy wheels, M Sport suspension and brakes, leather upholstery, climate control
  • On sale: Now