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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.


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.

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