As well as the optional automatic gearbox, our test M135i came with £515 worth of adaptive M Sport suspension, which brings with it different modes that limit how firm or soft the dampers allow themselves to be. It also lightens the steering in its more laid-back settings, which range from Eco Pro through to Sport+. We suspect most owners will settle for the middling modes of Comfort (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 smoothen 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 and accurate and comes as standard with a slower ratio around straight-ahead than it does once you get off-centre.
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 3sec even in the wet.