While the M135i comes as standard with Drive Performance Control, which provides a range of driving modes from Eco Pro through to Sport+, it can also be specified with £515 worth of electronically controlled adaptive M Sport dampers that bring faster reaction times. Sport and Sport+ modes tighten up the car's body control, add a little weight to the variable-ratio steering and progressively dial back the stability control system's eagerness to intervene. We suspect most owners will settle for the default Comfort mode (most of the time) and Sport (on more interesting, well surfaced roads).
The M135i doesn’t ride on runflat tyres, instead getting very serious-sounding and extremely grippy Michelin Pilot Super Sports. But, still, its ride retains a firmness and jiggle to its body that, say, a Ford Focus ST would smooth out to greater effect.
It is, however, extraordinarily better than the previous-generation BMW 130i, and quite bearable even in its firmer settings, which provide far tighter control of the M135i’s body movements.
There’s never much discernible road feel through the steering, but it’s smooth, accurate and quick, providing a quicker ratio once you get off-centre than it does at the straight-ahead. It’s a common trick that gives straight-line stability allied to a feeling of agility once you’re on lock. The M135i tipped our scales at 1545kg, yet it turns with the willingness and accuracy of a car a couple of hundred kilos lighter, no doubt aided by the fact that only 52 per cent of its weight is on its front tyres.
Typically, we’ve found 1-series to be quite pleasingly balanced and adjustable at their limit, but seemingly the M135i would be overly tail happy were it to wear the same width rubber on the front as the back. As it is, it’s a rather enjoyable steer down most roads, with just the right level of adjustability when you get serious.
The M135i brakes well, pulling itself to rest from 60mph in just 2.6sec in the dry and comfortably under 3.0sec even in the wet.