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Car reviews - BMW - 1 Series - M135i

Launch Story

26 Oct 2012

BMW has launched its first ‘M Performance’ passenger car model in Australia – the M135i, based on the F20 1 Series five-door hatch launched a year ago and priced from $68,400 plus on-road costs.

It joins the $147,000 X5 M50d and $157,000 X6 M50d M Performance SUVs released in June as the first in the Bavarian company’s sub-M line-up.

The newcomer additionally debuts a new line of aesthetic and mechanical personalisation options under the M Performance brand, which is now responsible for all BMW-made accessories.

These new options will not only spread to other current-generation 1 Series and 3 Series models, but can also be retro-fitted.

All of the M135i’s obvious rivals are significantly cheaper, including Volkswagen’s Golf R 4Motion (from $49,990) and Scirocco R (from $47,490), the Renault Megane RS265 (from $42,640) and the Opel Astra OPC (from $42,990 when it hits the local market in March).

However, none are rear-wheel drive, and nor do they have six cylinders like the BMW – in this case a 3.0-litre in-line unit with a twin-scroll turbocharger, direct injection, variable valve control and double variable camshaft timing.

With 235kW of power at 5800rpm and 450Nm of torque between 1250 and 5000rpm, the M135i accelerates from zero to 100km/h in 5.1 seconds with the standard six-speed manual, on the way to a speed-limited 250km/h top speed, while average fuel consumption is 8.0L/100km.

For comparison, the Volkswagens produce 188kW/330Nm, the Renault 195kW/360Nm, the Focus ST 184kW/360Nm and the Astra OPC 206kW/400Nm.

Choosing the ZF eight-speed automatic transmission adds a whopping $4000 to the price of the M135i, although BMW says it has been significantly modified for this application, where it will hold a chosen gear rather than upshift in manual mode.

Additionally, the auto makes the M135i quicker and more efficient, shaving 0.2 seconds off the sprint time and 0.5L/100km off the consumption.

The manual gearbox has also been beefed up with dry sump lubrication and an extra bearing to cope with the prodigious torque.

The M people tuned the M135i’s chassis for a very specific character, with individual control of the suspension (MacPherson strut at the front and a multi-link rear) and damping systems.

M Sport brakes are fitted, with four-piston fixed callipers up front and two-piston fixed items at the back, housed within 18-inch double-spoke alloy wheels fitted with 225/40 R18 tyres at the front and 245/35 R18 at the rear.

Further helping the M135i stand out from lesser F20s are the subtle body kit, anthracite roof liner, M-embossed door sills, Dakota leather upholstery, sports seats, leather steering wheel and high-gloss shadowline trim.

Safety equipment includes front, side and curtain (front and rear) airbags, BMW’s Cornering Brake Control and Dynamic Brake Control systems, a brake-drying function and fade compensation, hill-start assist, crash sensors, tyre-pressure monitors, rear parking sensors and cruise control with a brake function.

Also standard are bi-Xenon headlights, Bluetooth, voice control, climate-control, rain-sensing wipers, auto headlights, idle-stop and brake energy regeneration.

BMW describes the M135i as offering 40 per cent of an equivalent M car experience for a lot less money as the additions are added onto the standard 1 Series, rather than being a stripped-down and re-engineered high-performance car like the 1 Series M.

Unlike the previous E82 1M Coupe, there are no supply limitations on the M135i, though BMW Australia spokesman Piers Scott said forward orders have been stronger than for any recently launched BMW model.

Around 150 are expected to be sold by the end of this year.

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