Coupe a real

BMW con­tin­ues to im­prove the art of cram­ming a big en­gine into a small body, writes PAUL GOVER

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige News -

ANEW stealth fighter has swooped into the pock­etrocket bat­tle. It’s a new BMW and it prom­ises to open a fresh front with peo­ple who want a com­pact car that’s more than a su­per-quick toy.

The 135i coupe has mor­phed from BMW’s 1 Se­ries hatch with a new body, two doors and a boot.

It has se­ri­ous fire­power, in­clud­ing the 225kW twin-turbo six that al­ready makes the larger 335i cars some of the most en­joy­able in the line-up.

The 1 Se­ries coupe range also in­cludes a 125i for peo­ple who want style ahead of sub­stance.

In Aus­tralia the new coupes will co­in­cide with the roll-out of the 1 Se­ries con­vert­ible, led by a four­cylin­der model cost­ing $52,900.

Plenty of ac­tion is still to come on the 1 Se­ries front. A hotrod Tii and an ad­ven­tur­ous X1 all-wheel-drive are promised, but the 135i is the new hero.

It packs the sort of BMW per­for­mance that came only in an M3 a few years ago.

The start­ing price of $63,400 brings plenty of stan­dard equip­ment, in­clud­ing an M-style sports pack­age with body bits, big wheels and six-speed man­ual gear­box.

The 135i will be a se­ri­ous chal­lenger, de­spite looks nowhere near as ag­gres­sive as some of its ri­vals.

The cabin will seem a bit plain to GenXers and CUBs (cashed-up bo­gans) — who are driv­ing strong sales in such Ja­panese hot­ties as the Mazda RX-8 and the Nis­san Z.

BMW’s new baby uses a proven for­mula — which was pi­o­neered by mak­ers of V8 mus­cle cars in the US— that crams a lot of en­gine into the small­est pos­si­ble body.

The em­pha­sis is on driv­ing ahead of prac­ti­cal­ity, though it will still carry golf clubs and the back seat can ac­com­mo­date two com­pact trav­ellers.

But no one is sug­gest­ing the 135i is a fam­ily car. It is aimed at a broad spread of ri­vals, from Ja­pan’s hotrod STi and Evo X to the Audi S3 and TT coupe.

Its clos­est ri­val could turn out to be the M3. The 1 Coupe wins on sev­eral fronts, in­clud­ing value.

‘‘Why would you buy an M3? I could ask why you would buy a Porsche Cay­man be­cause the 135i is quicker,’’ BMW Aus­tralia man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Guen­ther See­mann says.

‘‘The M3 al­ways asks you for more. This 1 Se­ries doesn’t do that. It is a dif­fer­ent sort of car from the M3.’’

A win­ner: the new BMW 1351i coupe is com­pact and taut, and re­sponds well to a light touch in turns. There is not much to dis­like, though the cabin is a bit plain.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.