Skip advert
Advertisement

BMW 130i M Sport

Although it's the baby of the BMW range, it bears the M Sport pack, giving it a formidable 261bhp

Here’s a rarity for Greatest Drives – a BMW that’s not an M car. In truth, the 130i is not far off. With a 3.0-litre engine and 261bhp on tap, it’s definitely got the performance credentials. Add an M Sport package, including 18-inch alloy wheels, sports seats and matching steering wheel, plus aggressive body mouldings, and it’s practically there.

It looks impressive from the outside, with a purposeful nose and long bonnet, but the cabin is a bit disappointing. While the quality is excellent, the layout isn’t all that pleasing or attractive. It is rather plain, and a long way from what we’d consider sporting.

Press the start button and the naturally aspirated straight-six engine fires into life with a deep growl. On the move, though, it’s clear the 130i doesn’t like low speeds. A heavy clutch and gearbox, plus a sensitive throttle, make the car hard work in traffic – but that’s of little consequence here. On open roads, it picks up well, responds precisely to throttle inputs and sounds superb.

It’s a pity, then, that the stiff suspension and damping cause the 130i to be fidgety on rough roads. The car bounces and skips where other hot hatches, including the MINI, are better controlled.

On the circuit’s smooth tarmac, the rear-wheel-drive layout helped the BMW shine – but it tended to weave disconcertingly under heavy braking. There was also a fair amount of body movement through corners, and the 130i lacked the agility of the best hot hatches.

Still, it was surprising to see the 1-Series so low down the pecking order – proof that this year’s Greatest Drives crop has no real bad apples.

Skip advert
Advertisement
Continue Reading
Skip advert
Advertisement

Most Popular

Giant Panda electrified! New Fiat Grande Panda arrives with EV and hybrid power
Fiat Panda - front
News

Giant Panda electrified! New Fiat Grande Panda arrives with EV and hybrid power

Hybrid and electric versions will be available – the same as its sister cars, the Citroen C3/e-C3 and Vauxhall Frontera
14 Jun 2024
Car Deal of the Day: spicy Volkswagen Polo GTI packs a lot of punch for £238 a month
Volkswagen Polo GTI cornering
News

Car Deal of the Day: spicy Volkswagen Polo GTI packs a lot of punch for £238 a month

VW’s smallest hot hatch is an impressively grown up car that’s wrapped up in a compact body, and it’s our Car Deal of the Day for 14 June
14 Jun 2024
New Nissan Leaf is an SUV! 2025 model gets advanced tech and concept car looks
Nissan Leaf exclusive image
News

New Nissan Leaf is an SUV! 2025 model gets advanced tech and concept car looks

The next-generation Nissan Leaf will transform into an SUV inspired by the Chill-Out concept and our exclusive image previews how it could look
16 Jun 2024