BMW’s M135i is fast, fun and good value. That’s why we’ve put one on the Autocar fleet. If you’re tempted, too, we tell you what to look out for
22 January 2018

Value for money is not a phrase that springs to mind when the conversation turns to BMW, unless you’re talking about the BMW M135i.

Prices start at around £12,500 for 2102, 62-reg cars with 90,000 miles on their clocks.

See BMW M135i for sale on PistonHeads

Feeling brave? Last time we looked, there was a 2013, 13-plate, five-door auto with 129,000 miles for £400 more. The one-owner car had full BMW service history and a new set of the recommended Michelin Super Sport tyres. It also had an Evolve Stage Two remap, taking it to 400bhp. Shame, since even in standard 316bhp tune, an M135i is a proper handful. Just ask our own Dan Prosser, who, with the help of Birds, a renowned BMW specialist, is midway through taming his M135i with a bespoke suspension set-up and a Quaife differential before even thinking about taking it to 400bhp. Follow his progress in ‘Our Cars’, or here online.

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Dan’s car is a 2012, 62-reg three- door with the rare six-speed manual gearbox. The eight-speed auto was more popular with new buyers impressed with its paddle shifts and quicker changes, 2mpg superior fuel economy and lower CO2 emissions. Dan’s M135i has done 30,000 miles and cost £17,500. You’ll find prices leap around like this but around £17,000 is where you’ll find straight 2013-2014 cars with solid histories.

The M135i was launched in 2012 costing, in ‘basic’ three-door manual form, just shy of £30,000. That said, a few choice options could easily send the price to £40,000. Fortunately, today’s prices don’t ref lect the value of all these extras, so fill your boots.

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It was powered by the new N55- series 3.0-litre straight six with a twin-scroll turbo and was capable of 0-62mph in less than 5.0sec. Crucially, the new car was described as an ‘M Performance’ model, as distinct from a full-fat M car – so no limited-slip diff but a suspension set-up tuned by BMW’s M division.

Adaptive dampers were a £550 option. Standard equipment included twin-spoke 18in alloy wheels, Alcantara upholstery (leather was a popular upgrade), BMW Professional radio and iDrive infotainment witha 6.5in display. Cars fitted with the optional Professional Navigation system got an 8.8in screen.

A facelift in 2015 ushered in revised front and rear ends with LED daytime running lights and optional adaptive headlights, standard navigation (the car’s full name became M135i Nav) and improved manual and automatic transmissions. It also brought a modest hike in power to 321bhp.

The 0-62mph sprint remained unchanged at 4.9sec for the manual and 4.7sec for the auto. These last 2015-2016 cars cost north of £20,000.

Will BMW M's expansion affect its key cars?

Rivals for your cash include the Volkswagen Golf R Mk7, available from around £16,500 for the first 2012-reg cars, or the Mercedes A45 AMG, whose high new price means even the first 2013-reg cars cost from £21,500. No doubt about it: the M135i is value for money.

How to get one in your garage: 

An expert’s view - KEVIN BIRD, FOUNDER AND DIRECTOR, BIRDS: “The M135i sold well when new and we see around 10 a month through the workshop. Rear-wheel drive, a beautifully torquey engine: what’s not to like? Well, traction could be better. Especially in poor weather, you need to be very careful on the throttle. When buying one, check all the gadgets such as the iController work. When those things go wrong, they can cost a fortune to fix.”

Buyer beware...

ENGINE - Water pump and thermostat issues are not unknown. Coil pack issues are another occasional weak spot. Short journeys can coke up the internals, which puts the coil packs and ignition system under pressure. Scroll through the on-board service computer to check the car’s past maintenance and its future needs.

TRANSMISSION - Manual ’box can feel a bit rubbery from cold but should ease up as it warms. The auto is sealed for life but a 60k-mile fluid and filter change is recommended.

STEERING, BRAKES AND SUSPENSION - Front and rear wheel bearing failures canhappen.Frontballjointswear,too. Check the rear brakes for abnormal wear caused by hard driving initiating the stability control to act on the rear brakes. Feel through the steering wheel for vibration from bent wheels. Check the tyre life front and rear and that they’re a premium brand.

BODY - Any rust is likely to be the result of poor crash repairs. On that subject, check the panel alignment and for overspray on window rubbers. Be suspicious of new front wing bolts, and check for rippling of the bonnet slam panel, rear cross-member and boot floor. Ensure the headlight dates correspond with the registration year.

INTERIOR - On an option-heavy car, check every last thing works. Electronics such as head-up displays and iControllers can occasionally play up and can cause long drawn-out compatibility issues with replacement parts because they are often uniquely coded to the car.

Also worth knowing...

BMW can sell you a warranty for your used M135i if the car has done less than 100,000 miles, is not modified and has been serviced on the button. For a 2012-reg M135i with 63,000 miles, one year’s cover with emergency service and a £250 claims excess costs £732.

How much to spend:

£12,500-£14,495 - Launch to 2014-reg cars with up to 100k miles, including a private-sale 2012/62 five-door with 63k miles and full BMW service history for £13,900.

£14,500-£15,995 - More 2013-2014 cars with up to 60k miles, such as a 2013/13 manual three-door with 47k miles and full BMW service history for £15,790.

£16,000-£17,995 - Loads of rock-solid, low-mileage (around 30k) 2013 and 2014 cars.

£18,000-£19,995 - Best late-plate 316bhp M135is, such as a £19,995, 2015/64 manual with 14k miles.

£20,000-£23,995 - Facelifted 2015-reg 321bhp M135is start here.

One we found:

BMW M135i 5DR MANUAL, 2013/63-REG, 43K MILES, £14,990: A rare dealer-sale M135i manual, with full BMW service history. Last serviced in April at 35k miles. Practical five-door body. Spec includes Dakota leather plus BMW Professional radio and unmarked 18in double-spoke alloys.

John Evans 

Read more 

BMW M135i review 

BMW M2 review 

BMW M4 review 

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Comments
5

22 January 2018
I get how good these cars are/can be but everytime I look at buying one I think of the Clarkson clip with him spinning helplessly on a wet air field) while a golf gti (not even an R ) drives calmly on . On days like these and with what the uk weather throws at us I'll take a golf , preferably r.

22 January 2018
Sundym wrote:

I get how good these cars are/can be but everytime I look at buying one I think of the Clarkson clip with him spinning helplessly on a wet air field) while a golf gti (not even an R ) drives calmly on . On days like these and with what the uk weather throws at us I'll take a golf , preferably r.

What Clarkson didn't tell us in that programme, was what state the rear tyres were in after his tail-out hoonery for the camera.

Citroëniste.

22 January 2018

I wouldn't use that twat's lack of driving ability as a reason not to buy one. Took a ride in a friend's 140i auto in the autumn and was mightily impressed.


Myk

22 January 2018

I had an M135i from new, and then replaced it with an M235i.  Not once did I have a scare in either of them, including snowy drives through the Highlands.  If you turn the traction control off and act like a hooligan on wet roads then what would you expect of a powerful rear-drive car? Both were brilliant, fun cars, and I wouldn't hesitate from owning another.  Seriously, you can't base your opinion on Clarkson provoking one into spinning to get a headline for his TV show. 

22 January 2018

I can confirm that you’d have to really try to loose control of the car in the wet, especially in a straight line. The traction and stability control is rather aggressive in its default mode and doesn’t allow hooligan driving unless you dial it back. Which, admittedly is when things get fun, and the RWD really makes a positive impression.

Also, there are cheaper ways to upgrade the suspension than going the Birds route. Although they definitely know what they’re doing, I’m pretty sure they just use better Billstein dampers and maybe eibach springs. These kits can be bought and installed cheaper while still greatly improving things.

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