The BMW M135i is the second ‘hot’ 1 Series, as there wasn’t an equivalent version of the first-generation model. There are significant changes for the new M135i; while the previous car was rear-wheel drive, the new one comes with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system for the first time in the United Kingdom.
Keen observers will note that the last range-topping 1 Series was known as the M135i, then the M140i, which was more powerful. BMW has reverted back to the original name as the new car has less power than the one it replaces but, thanks to the all-wheel drive, it’s actually a little faster.
The M135i sits at the top of the BMW 1 Series range, so it’s quite well-equipped. It gets the upgraded infotainment system, heated M Sport seats, sat nav and exclusive styling tweaks, among other features.
BMW languished in 25th place out of 30 brands in 2019 Driver Power owner satisfaction survey, with 22 per cent of buyers reporting a fault in the first year. The latest 1 Series is too new to feature on the list, but BMW will hope it can boost the brand’s rankings.
The engine is all-new, too. A two-litre four-cylinder engine replaces the old car’s tuneful three-litre, six-cylinder unit. There is no need to worry about the reduced size, as its BMW’s most powerful two-litre engine ever. With 302bhp, the M135i can launch from 0-62mph in under five seconds and go on to a limited top speed of 155mph.
There is no doubt that the acceleration is impressive but it lacks excitement. The downsized engine doesn’t sound as nice as the old six-cylinder engine, and the exhaust doesn’t add much either. Overall, it just feels a little ordinary.
The widescreen infotainment system, coupled with a digital instrument cluster, premium materials and ambient lighting, means the interior is one of this car’s standout elements. It’s more spacious, too; the rear seats are much more accommodating than those of the previous car and the boot’s a bit bigger.
As good as the M135i is, it feels like there should be an even extreme model above it in the range to rival the Audi RS3 and Mercedes-AMG A 45. The BMW M2 is more comparable to these hot hatches, but it’s not as practical as the M135i.
The BMW M135i’s fuel consumption isn’t awful considering its power. Fuel economy won’t be the main concern for anyone who buys an M135i, but one’ll get reasonable figures when not exploiting the engine’s full potential.The downsized two-litre engine is a little more economical than the three-litre engine fitted in the old car, and one should be able to achieve 36.2mpg when driving carefully. Neither the Mercedes-AMG A 35 and Volkswagen Golf R will top 40mpg, either, and the M135i’s figure is slightly better than what you can expect from a Honda Civic Type