The M135i is available with a choice of three or five doors. It appears with three here because that makes it cheaper and allows us a first full test of the less practical 1-series. You get leather upholstery and a three-berth rear bench as standard; other 1-series offer a strict four-seat option. Shame. We can’t help thinking M135i owners might quite like individual rear chairs.
Access to the rear is quite good, thanks to the long side doors and easily folded front seats, which can be motored forward and back via a handy button on the backrest – but only if you’ve spent £600 on the right option.
Space in the back is acceptable rather than good; probably not ideal if you’re likely to carry bulky child seats or more than one full-sized passenger with any regularity. But if you’re choosing to spend £30k like this, such considerations are probably secondary anyway.
The situation up front is much better. Like every 1-series, the M135i seems over-specified for legroom and headroom thanks to generous adjustment on both the seat and the steering column. The driving position is all but flawless and quite unlike a hatchback in its low-slung cosiness.
The way that the cabin has been appointed and equipped is less impressive. There are precious few traditional performance flourishes to distinguish it from a lesser model in M Sport trim, and plenty of gadgetry remains on the options list that other hot-hatch makers wouldn’t dream of omitting. Enough, at any rate, to mean that not many M135is will come in at their sub-£30k starting price. That’s an issue we’ll come back to later.