BMW 1-Series Coupe 135i M Sport

November 2007

picture of car from the front

The 135i is distinguishable by its unique front bumper

Ratings

Overall Rating 7Overall rating

Value for money Rating 6Value for money

Space and Practicality Rating 6Costs

Space and Practicality Rating 6Space and practicality

Controls and display Rating 8Controls and display

Comfort Rating 7Comfort

Security Rating 7Car security

Safety Rating 8Car safety


Likes

  • Appealing aggressive and compact styling
  • Magnificent performance across the rev range
  • Useable rear seats
  • Excellent build quality

Gripes

  • Limited visibility out of the rear
  • Big wheels and tyres cause road noise
  • Engine and exhaust note could be more distinctive
  • Ride borders on hard

First launched as a five-door hatch and later as a three-door the coupe is the third, but not final, variant in BMW's 1-Series line-up. The addition of a three-litre twin-turbo unit to the rear-drive layout means the 135i is able to compete not only with sporty hot-hatches, but also with out-and-out sports coupes, in terms of looks and performance.

It would be easy to dismiss the 1-Series Coupe as simply a remoulded version of BMW's three-door hatchback model, but that's actually far from the case. Although it uses the same platform BMW has lengthened the body slightly, freeing up more space inside, and introduced a new diesel and petrol engine to the line-up. The three-litre engine in the 135i is the first twin-turbocharged unit to be fitted to a car in the compact segment.

BMW has history when it comes to building potent, compact four-seaters. The 2002 model immediately springs to mind - making way for the 3-Series that has remained extremely popular during the last two decades. There was certainly room in the BMW line-up for a more compact model however, and the 1-Series hatchback slotted into the gap neatly, acting as a premium rival to established family hatchbacks with a hot version - the 130i M Sport - ready to take on performance all-comers.

The 135i M Sport Coupe takes things a step further. BMW believes the model has the potential not only to steal customers away from the family hatch opposition and even claim the odd 3-Series scalp, but also to play rival to established and distinguished sports coupes. The 135i is key to this belief, and looking at the stats it's not hard to see why the manufacturer expects the 300bhp-plus model to make buyers who traditionally opt for a two-seater or two-plus-two think twice.

There is ample room in the back for golf clubs or shopping bags, the rear seats will take adults on short journeys and accommodate kids or young adults with ease and there's certainly no compromise in the comfort stakes for front passenger and driver. All the usual BMW luxuries are included and, as the range-topper, the 135i gets meaty, performance styling as well.

Our verdict on the BMW 1-Series Coupe 135i M Sport

The 135i has the styling, performance and handling to be more than a match for the opposition's two-seater coupes or two-plus-twos but with useable rear seats and a decent boot it also boasts practicality not far off that of a hatchback or small saloon. It's a neatly styled and highly competent middle ground and a trade-off owners will be far from ashamed to have on the driveway.

Costs
Costs rating 6

With the most impressive performance in the 1-Series range, the 135i coupe is likely to be more expensive to insure. Although it has a bigger thirst than a sports coupe with a smaller engine, fuel economy is actually impressive considering the capacity and output. Owners will need to be prepared for a larger than normal bill when the run-flat tyres need replacing.

Space and practicality
Space and Practicality Rating 6

It's not a big car, but the coupe does have a slightly longer body than the hatchback which translates into additional boot space. There's plenty of room for sports bags and the weekly shop. The rear seats are more useable than the token gestures often offered in a two-plus-two sports coupe, but fully-grown adults will still find legroom restricted. Kids will fit snugly into the rear though.

picture of car from the rear

135i model gets twin exhausts

Controls and display
Controls and Display Rating 8

The 135i's controls feel as though they have been carefully tuned to meet the car's performance. The steering can feel a little heavy, but the weight and feedback quickly becomes a bonus at speed and when having some fun. The pedals and gear change are all smooth and lightweight in a good way. Dials and instruments are well laid out and easy to read while the column stalks and switches are where you'd expect to find them. The iDrive system can be a little fiddly, but the addition of favourites buttons is a good solution.

Comfort
Comfort Rating 7

The compact dimensions and coupe roofline mean the 135i has a cosseting feel that's very easy to get comfortable in. The driving position can be fine-tuned and wind and engine noise are kept to a minimum. The sports suspension and wide tyres do lead to a firm ride, although never jarring, and road noise can be heard at speed.

Car security
Security Rating 7

The 135i Coupe gets a fairly standard alarm and immobiliser package. Naturally it has remote central locking, and the stop/start button still requires the key to be present in the slot. There's ample covered storage inside and items in the boot will be out of sight.

Car safety
Safety Rating 8

With its huge discs and callipers the 135i is well sorted in the stopping stakes, and the tremendous mechanical stopping power is augmented by an array of electronic aids. Brake Force Display warns drivers behind that an emergency stop is in progress and run-flat tyres are complimented by BMW's Tyre Puncture Warning System. Both front and rear occupants are protected by several airbags.

Driver appeal
Driver Appeal Rating 8

The 135i's twin-turbocharged three-litre unit hasn't been named International Engine of the Year for no reason, and its potent performance makes the 135i a match in a straight line for some impressive opposition. The rear-wheel drive platform of the 1-Series coupe copes particularly well with the abundant power and the firm ride offered by the M-Sport suspension package means the 135i has sprightly, sporty and responsive handling.

picture of car interior

Compact 1-Series interior is comfy and user-friendly

Family car appeal
Family Appeal Rating 6

The 135i could see service as an everyday car for a small family, but practicality is not its strong point. The five-door hatchback model would be far better suited to family life.

First car appeal
First car Rating 6

If it wasn't for the price, the 135i could be a highly popular choice as a first car. It's possibly a little too powerful, expensive and exclusive for most first timers though. The more economical 120d or 123d models might be a more sensible choice.

Quality and image
Quality and Image Rating 7

The build quality is up to BMW's usual high standards, but whether the coupe is a more appealing prospect than the hatchback is subjective. The 135i is the most desirable of the line-up thanks to its performance styling and impressive pace, but as a variant of the entry-level model doesn't quite have the kerbside clout of its bigger brothers.

Accessibility
Accessibility Rating

Two big doors mean there are no problems entering the front of the 1-Series coupe and while the rear isn't quite as easy to access it's far from the worse example of an awkward rear bench. Despite its wide stance, the 135i has a fairly normal ride height so stooping on entry is not necessary.

Stereo and ICE (In car entertainment)

The 135i has a high quality sound system, but despite being the range topper only comes with a single slot CD player as standard. It can be specified with sat-nav and CD changer. The I-Drive system has been updated to include eight programmable favourites buttons to make accessing the most commonly used functions easier. That a real benefit, as selecting options through the menu based iDrive can be highly involved experience.

picture of car in detail

Rear seats are useable, if not spacious

Colours and trim

Customers can choose from 12 exterior colours on the 1-Series coupe. The 135i looks at its best in the darker, more brooding colours and BMW has made plenty of those available in its palette. Three of the colours available are unique to the 1-Series range. The 135i gets a unique front valance and a rear diffuser too. The 135i has good quality leather and features brushed aluminium trim inside, for a sportier feel.

Parking

The 135i gets rear parking sensors, which is helpful as rear visibility is less than perfect. It also has a clever function to lessen the lock-to-lock distance of the steering at low speed while maintaining the assistance, making low speed manoeuvring easier. The rear wheel drive layout gives the 1-Series coupe a tight turning circle.

Spare wheel

Fitted with run-flat tyres as standard. No spare example.

 

Range information

Petrol engine options - 3.0-litre (306hp). Diesel engine options - 2.0-litre (177bhp); 2.0-litre (204bhp). Transmission options: six-speed manual gearbox, six-speed automatic transmission with Steptronic semi-automatic mode. Trim levels: ES, SE, M Sport.

 

Alternative cars

Nissan 350Z Raw two-seater coupe is more fun, but less practical

Porsche Cayman  S coupe offers premium badge and similar performance but for more money

Volkswagen Golf R32 is a practical and potent hatch, but front wheel drive

BMW 3-Series Coupe 335i is bigger, but considerably more costly



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November 2007