Still, it is a typical BMW with a compact chassis identical to the fivedoor 1 Series hatchback’s, though there is more emphasis on a 50:50 weight balance, with tauter suspension and 18-inch wheels.
The engine makes 400Nm in addition to its power, enough for BMW to claim 0-100km/h in 5.3 seconds and a speed-limited top of 250km/h.
ON THE ROAD
THE new BMW baby is a boomer. Think of it as a mini-me M3. It’s not as flat-out fast as an M3, but over most roads for most of the time it gives you 90 per cent of the enjoyment with far less effort and worry. And that is a big deal.
It does not feel as special as the M3 or some of its other rivals, but all the right stuff is good, from grippy sports seats to the firm but supple ride.
BMW Australia previewed the 135i over tough-driving roads in the NSW alps. They showed the considerable strengths of the car and exposed few weaknesses.
The only shortcoming is a nose that prefers to wander wide unless you concentrate on the job, perhaps because of the engine’s weight. That makes the steering feel a bit dull at times, but it’s not a big deal.
It’s definitely nothing to worry about when you open the taps on the turbo motor, which kicks in from as little as 2000 revs.
It has a big, broad sweep of torque that turns to real power about 4000 revs. It’s a satisfying transition that makes the mini-M3 one of the new driving favourites.
When you do push, it has a real bark instead of the flat blat you normally get from a turbocharged engine.
The 135i can cover ground rapidly with little fuss, the mark of a successful car. It’s an elegant solution to the need for speed. It can also be surprisingly economical if you stay away from turbo time.
BMW Australia does not like to have the 135i compared with the M3, but it’s the best way to rate the car.
Based on what was found in the alps, the 135i is 80 per cent of an M3 for less than half the price. That makes it a relative bargain and a winner.