BMW M135i long-term update 5

BMW M135i long-term update 5

All good things must end – and our time with the Bang For Your Bucks class-winning BMW M135i has indeed been good, such that we’re quite sorry to see it off.

For this author, the combination of hot hatch nimbleness, a scorching turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six and, in particular, rear-drive, led to at least one late night investigating finance options. Yep, that tempting.

For those readers just tuning in, it’s worth recapping the big news with BMW’s rear-drive hot hatch, that being the price – $62,900, or a quite sizeable $14K cheaper than the equivalent car in 2012. There’s been a facelift since then, too.

The big drop was a key reason why the M135i was included in – and won – the hotly-contested $50K-$100K class at last year’s Bang, despite the mechanical upgrades being limited to five extra kilowatts, now 240kW. But BMW knew it had a wheel in no need of reinventing, with the M135i keeping up, both metaphorically and literally, with newer and cheaper hot hatch rivals. Its 4.84sec to 100km/h, as tested, will still pip the all-wheel drive DSG Golf R. At $9K more, so it should, to some extent.

But the core thing is the M135i is still a sweetly satisfying thing to drive fast. You’d be surprised just how few cars that visit the MOTOR office have that must-go-for-a-drive-this-weekend quality about them – and the M135i, after a long, fast drive, makes you think ‘when can I do this again’ rather than, ‘okay, I think I’ve had enough’.

BMW M135i corneringMaybe it’s the quick-shifting eight-speed torque converter auto with nicely-stacked ratios, or the generous grunt from the turbo six-pot, but it’s eminently capable of scratching that difficult itch. It’s also friendly to fang in a way some of its M-badged bigger brothers could do worse than imitate.

I’ve only small gripes to report over my time 1DA-1KP. The brake pedal calibration and darty variable steering take some getting used to around town. And no digital speedo is probably more a personal bugbear; the analogue jobbie does the job.
I do love the M135i’s interior and it feels like this is where a lot of your coin is going. It’s a quality place to sit, even for nine hours at a time.

Perhaps my main irreconcilable difference with the M135i is the styling. It’s a bit plain. The Golf R, for example’s sake, looks far tougher.

And despite prevaricating on the issue some months ago, I feel confident confirming you should get the optional mechanical limited-slip diff. In some ways, particularly if you count yourself an enthusiast, why wouldn’t you buy your 240kW rear-drive hot hatch with one?

My position was cemented after a recent blat in a such-fitted M235i. Traction is strong in the stock car (which simulates an LSD by braking the spinning inside wheel, transferring torque back to the outside), but it can’t match the satisfyingly consistent and predictable action of a true mechanical unit. Consider it very much a longer-term investment in your enjoyment of the car.

BMW M135i frontAnd in the context of the car’s price decrease, absolutely justifiable. We’re talking a $68,375 proposition. Do it.

For what it’s worth, over 5800km of city, country and hard driving, the M135i returned an average of 10.7L/100km. BMW claims an average of 7.5L. Best we saw was 7.1L on the Hume, or 646km to a tank. The worst, 12.2L and 380km/tank. Tempting to wonder which way the wind was blowing at the time of BMW’s testing, though we imagine the testers weren’t driving anything like we were, sorry to say for them.

Although even that is now at an end. MOTOR will always miss a rear-drive straight-six, but this one especially.

Month: Five
Liked: The moment, when driving an M235i with the optional LSD, we realised the M135i needs one
Disliked: Saying goodbye!
Favourite moment: A VL Turbo, wildly spitting and hissing, shall we say “fooled” by the subtle styling

Fuel this month: 11.7L/100km 
Average: 10.7L/100km
Distance this month: 714km
Total: 11,235km

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