Top speed: 155mph (limited)
Economy: 37.7mpg combined
Engine: 6-cyls, in-line, 2979cc, petrol turbo
Energy: 316bhp at 5800rpm
Torque: 332lb ft at 1300-4500rpm (with overboost)
Gearbox: eight-spd automatic
A mix of dry and damp, limited bends and a narrow road ought to be problem enough for a hot hatch with 316bhp to spill from its rear wheels. And if that seems like a temptingly reckless quantity then you would be appropriate it truly is only 19bhp down on the output of the lately departed 1M Coupe, and the M135i's 320lb ft of torque is similar.
If it comes with the optional 8-velocity paddle shifter of our test vehicle, the 135i will zoom-flick, zoom-flick, zoom-flick by way of the gears to 62mph in just four.9sec. Go for the 6-pace manual and the time actually rises to five.1sec simply because its broader spread of ratios are significantly less speedily swapped.
Both way, this new three-doorway 1-collection is eagerly, muscularly and excitingly rapid with the prospective, you may possibly think, to become a flailing handful if you dare to meddle with the ESP button. But the initial daring dive into a rain-sheened bend uncovers grip reserves much deeper than envisioned deep ample that when that DSC button is prodded for partial disengagement, it requires some guide-foot ambition to get the rear axle's broader 245/35 R18s to get a skate on, the slide part-managed by a brake-deploying digital constrained slip diff.
So it's quite neat, controllable and reassuring, the more so since this rear-driver is really a finely well balanced device, as proved by a way too-fast arrival into a restricted, minimal speed turn that fails to carry on any plough-on understeer. That stated, you can anticipate to see loads of the orange gentle that confirms an lively ESP technique, which is no surprise given all this strength and rear-wheel push.
Perversely, it really is greatest to expertise all this in the Convenience environment of the £515 Adaptive M Sport suspension, an important alternative. It softens off the electronic dampers and lightens the steering work to create a satisfyingly communicative, a lot more absorbent chassis and very best of all, usefully a lot more feelsome steering. Of system, tripping the Ease and comfort manner slows the change instances and the gearbox's willingness to hold a gear, but that is easily undone by sliding the gearlever to leftwards to Sport, which will get you a more keen gearbox.
The result is a an excitingly quick drive that sits just the appropriate side of busy, the exhilaration of the six's eager blare created on by the 'box's light-weight thumps in sport, the ra-ta-tat of the exhaust's more than-run, the frivolously clasping assistance of the seats and an superb driving situation. Although some may want the more uncompromising character of the 1M Coupe, the fact is that this M135i's journey is much less maskingly agency, its steering much more delicate and its character less difficult to dwell with. And it truly is also a whole great deal more affordable, getting nearly £10k less.
Of course, you do with out the some of the 1M's alloy suspension hardware and substantial brake rotors although the 135i's enlarged blue-calipered discs are fully effective but remember that the M135i rides on the most recent 1-series system aside from benefiting from bespoke suspension geometry and its very own springs, dampers, anti-roll bars and bushes.
A lot more right away noticeable M135i identifiers consist of a new entrance bumper device with more substantial air intakes, a rear bumper with twin exhausts and 18in alloys, and tyres, that are broader at the rear. Within you get leather-based sporting activities seats (the British isles won't be obtaining the desirable Alcantara/hexagon cloth combine of the test vehicle, which appears a pity), a black headlining, an M footrest, blue accent stitching to the seats, patterned aluminium trim inserts and modified instrument faces. Not a huge amount of differentiation then, but sufficient to mark this one out as one thing sportier. The cabin is robustly created way too, though it really is not as finely, made, concluded or textured as the cabin of the newest Audi A3.
Much of the M135is's substantial entertainment repertoire is provided by the straight six. This Twinpower motor attributes a twin scroll variable geometry turbocharger, variable timing of both inlet and exhaust cams, variable valve carry and immediate injection, these functions managing to practically eliminate turbo lag. Indeed, you need to actively research it out to find any, by shifting manually and obtaining the revs construct from 1000rpm to the 7500rom limit in next, say. Then you will uncover a slower-relocating tacho needle to 1300rpm. From this level the six has presently attained its 320lb ft torque peak, this figure impressively maintained by means of to 4500rpm, though the revs don't hurry at you right up until this peak has handed, the tacho needle executing a lightning flit to the limiter.
Throttle reaction is not as instant as you'll locate in a normally aspirated M3, but it really is sharp adequate for most circumstances. Couple the six's breadth of urge to that eight-speeder, and you have a vehicle that powers close to seamlessly from a dawdle to its effortlessly struck and limited - 155mph greatest.
M division has tuned the 135i's exhaust to give a smoothly occupied soundtrack that makes paddling your way via eight ratios an absorbing company, even if the noise can switch a bit putting on. Fortunately it quietens off at a motorway cruise. And we suspect the exact same may possibly be accurate of the ride, which showed indicators of choppiness on Germany's mostly clean roads.
by Richard Bremner