BMW is planning hot hatch supremacy with its racy 316bhp M135i
14 May 2012

BMW is planning hot hatch supremacy with its racy 316bhp M135i. Seen here in production guise for the first time, the turbocharged 3.0-litre, six-cylinder M135i has been officially confirmed as the performance flagship of BMW’s second-generation 1-series line-up after being previewed as a concept at the Geneva motor show in March.

The rear-wheel-drive M135i is the second model to join BMW’s new M Performance line-up, following the M550d xDrive. Unlike its 376bhp, tri-turbocharged diesel sibling, the petrol-powered M135i has been engineered for both left and right-hand drive, and local sales begin in September.

Pricing for this long-anticipated hot hatch has not yet been officially confirmed, but Munich sources have revealed to Autocar that it will hit UK showrooms for about £29,900 in standard three-door, rear-wheel-drive guise.

Key among its rivals will be the significantly more expensive but soon-to-be-superseded £39,950 Audi RS3 Sportback, the £30,575 Volkswagen Scirocco R and the £26,040 Renault Mégane 265.

Also lined up firmly in BMW’s sights is the soon-to-be-revealed Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG, which is expected to reach Britain early next year bearing a similar price tag and packing 335bhp from a turbocharged 2.0-litre engine.

Alongside the initial three-door model revealed here, BMW is also readying a five-door version that is tentatively planned to go on sale in the UK in November.

The M135i is powered by the latest take on BMW’s widely used N55 engine. Recently launched in the 640i coupé and convertible, the 3.0-litre straight six uses a twin-scroll turbocharger along with BMW’s patented Valvetronic variable valve control and double Vanos variable camshaft control systems, along with the latest in piezo valve-guided direct injection to deliver 316bhp at 5000rpm and 332lb ft of torque at just 1350rpm.

Channelling drive to the rear wheels is a standard six-speed Getrag manual gearbox, or an optional eight-speed automatic from ZF — both featuring stop-start and brake energy recuperation functions.

The M135i’s outputs aren’t quite a match for the 335bhp and 369lb ft of the older N54 twin-turbo 3.0-litre unit used in the discontinued 1-series M Coupé. It also fails to match the 335bhp of its main rival, the all-wheel-drive Audi RS3 Sportback, although the M135i matches the 332lb ft of the RS3’s turbocharged 2.5-litre, five-cylinder petrol unit.

BMW claims, officially, that in manual form the M135i is capable of cracking 0-62mph in 5.1sec. The eight-speed automatic version cuts this figure to 4.9sec. The fastest rival, the RS3 Sportback, hits the same mark in 4.5sec.

The new go-fast 1-series also delivers a 50-75mph fourth gear split of just 4.3sec, a standing kilometre time of 23.9sec and a top speed governed to 155mph.

Combined economy is put at 35.3mpg for the manual and 37.7mpg for the automatic. The respective CO2 figures are 188g/km and 175g/km.

A claimed kerb weight of 1425kg gives the most powerful 1-series hatchback yet a power-to-weight ratio of 222bhp per tonne. In comparison, the 1575kg RS3 packs 203bhp per tonne.

The M135i is distinguished from its standard three-door 1-series siblings by an aggressively styled body kit developed in-house at BMW’s M division.

The sculpting includes a deep front bumper with larger air ducts for increased engine cooling, chunkier side sills under the long frameless doors, shapely mirror housings, a prominent spoiler atop the tailgate and a heavily reworked rear bumper with a blackened lower section housing two chromed tailpipes.

The exterior styling changes ensure the M135i retains the same frontal area as other new three-door 1-series models, but the drag coefficient rises from 0.31 to 0.33, due mainly to the larger wheels and tyres.

BMW M division insiders have already begun talking up the M135i’s on-road talents, suggesting its standard rear-wheel drive layout will ensure that it offers inherent dynamic benefits to lift it above the front-drive and four-wheel-drive competition.

As with every model developed by BMW’s M division, it has undergone extensive chassis testing, including a 6000-mile programme at the Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit in Germany.

The new car rides on a reworked version of the standard 1-series’ rear-wheel drive chassis, with MacPherson struts up front and a five-link arrangement at the rear. Stiffer springs, dampers and bushes give the car a lower ride height than other new three-door 1-series models.

Included as standard are uniquely styled double five-spoke 18-inch wheels — 7.5 inches wide up front and 8.0 inches at the rear — shod with 225/40 and 245/35 tyres respectively.

Further changes have been directed at the steering; the electro-mechanical system has been tuned for added directness and more urgent response.

The brakes, too, have been upgraded and feature 340mm ventilated discs up front and 345mm ventilated discs at the rear.

They are grabbed by newly developed four-piston calipers up front and two-piston calipers at the rear — all bearing a blue colour scheme and sporting the stylised M logo of BMW’s M division, which has been responsible for the development of all the company’s new M Performance models.

From November onwards, BMW will offer a four-wheel drive option with a similarly powered M135i xDrive, although this won’t be sold in the UK. British buyers will, however, be able to choose a five-door M135i from this November.

 

Our Verdict

BMW 1 Series

A final facelift for the rear-wheel drive BMW 1 Series, as it aims to take class honours from the formidable Audi A3 and the Mercedes-Benz A-Class

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Comments
48

14 May 2012

While I really fancy the 1M, this just seems a bit, meh. Has it got the M differential?

Myk

14 May 2012

At the quoted price it seems like a pretty good deal. I would love one, if only it wasn't one of the ugliest cars currently on sale.

14 May 2012

should be a good drift machine! The RWD will be the thing that persuades the buyers away from the Audi.

14 May 2012

This car is as ugly as sin. Sorry, BMW, but I will not be seen in a car that embarrasses me - no matter how marvellous it is in other respects. You need to know that I am a BMW fan but like many other BMW fans, I have been put off buying a new 1-Series because of its awkward, unattractive appearance. Engelbert

14 May 2012

This a turn up for the books a BMW that under cuts its rivals ok not by much but still it is a money saving opportunity know the less. The only problem is that it go throw tyres so quickly and you have got to remember that tyres are run flat(fairly costly) and low profile (very costly) which means that the money that you initially saved will be spent on tyres. Thats the down side of this car but looks of this car are so much better than the last model just because its looks more aggressive it m-sport kits i know that car more looks like face lift to the old model but i think that the first generation put bmw in the market now they want to be market leader in this very competitive and the badge is much to that car but i think they have taken criticism tried there best to make it better.

14 May 2012

Having sat in a few BMW showrooms recently, I can safely say it looks far better in the metal than the photos. It won't win a beauty contest but it's not bad. A bit like me really! ;) And in terms of interior, I think it's more stylish than the current A3.

The comments section needs a makeover... how about a forum??

14 May 2012

[quote Rich_uk]Having sat in a few BMW showrooms recently, I can safely say it looks far better in the metal than the photos.[/quote]

I think that all that's really needed is a nose job (the car, dunno about Rich). Other than that, it's not too bad, especially in the M135i guise.

14 May 2012

[quote disco.stu]

[quote Rich_uk]Having sat in a few BMW showrooms recently, I can safely say it looks far better in the metal than the photos.[/quote]

I think that all that's really needed is a nose job (the car, dunno about Rich). Other than that, it's not too bad, especially in the M135i guise.

[/quote]

Agree with the nose job suggestion. Ok, the car doesn't look that bad in metal, as it does in photos, but "not that bad" really isn't quite good enough for a supposedly premium hatch, that is otherwise a pretty decent car.

14 May 2012

[quote Rich_uk]Having sat in a few BMW showrooms recently, I can safely say it looks far better in the metal than the photos.[/quote]

I completely disagree. It's bad in the pictures, and it's even worse in the flesh. It's revolting.

The one in question looks to be very good, but it's pig ugly, and I wouldn't buy one with my own money.

14 May 2012

[quote theadamh1234]should be a good drift machine! The RWD will be the thing that persuades the buyers away from the Audi.[/quote]

True, I've seen many a BMW drifting in the snow, shame it's into the nearest hedge though!

 

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