BMW continues to deny it is planning to build an M version of the 1-series - but don't despair - we may not need one after all. Not when we've got this, the new 135i coupe. The hottest One looks likely to capture the driving spirit of the original M3 when it makes its public premiere at the Frankfurt motor show in September. UK sales start in November.Three versions of the new 1-series coupe will available in the UK, including an entry-level 120d and a twin-turbocharged 123d.
302bhp, two turbos, 0-62mph in 5.3sec
Fitted with a twin-turbo 3.0-litre six cylinder petrol engine, the 135i should have the pace to make hot hatches such as the Ford Focus ST, VW Golf R32 and Audi S3 seem rather ordinary.With 302bhp at 5800rpm and 295lb ft from as low as 1300rpm, the 135i will establish a level of performance just one rung below that of the new fourth-generation M3.With a power-to-weight ratio of 206bhp per tonne, the 135i will hit 62mph in 5.3sec and extend all the way to an electronically limited 155mph. That places the 135i on a par with the substantially more expensive Porsche Cayman S for outright acceleration. Just as impressive are the 135's in-gear times; 50-70mph takes just in 5.0sec in fourth gear.As with all 2008 1-series models, the 135i gets the full benefit of BMW’s Efficient Dynamics energy-saving philosophy; that means brake energy regeneration, engine stop-start and lean burn combustion. This places less strain on the engine and helps the 135i achieve 30.7mpg and 220g/km of CO2.
Lightweight chassis and an LSD
As promising as the 135i’s performance figures are, we'll have to wait until we drive it to see if it's a successor to the first-generation M3. The chassis hardware is familiar; the 1-series coupe shares the same rear-wheel-drive platform and aluminium-intensive suspension set-up as the hatchback, although it has been tuned for a more sporting drive. One significant addition for the 135i is an electronically controlled limited-slip differential, something no fast BMW should ever be without.Wheels are 18-inch items – 7.5-inch wide up front and 8.5-inch at the rear and shod with 215/40 and 245/35 profile tyres.