A thriller, not vanilla
1The It’s a numbers game
M140i was previously known as the M135i but the name has been changed to align it with the 240i and 440i models in the BMW empire. The 3.0litre six-cylinder turbo now produces 250kW/500Nm (up 10kW/50Nm), giving the same torque as BMW’s feisty M2 and reinforcing its image as a softer-sprung alternative to the M machine. Performance is still blistering with a 4.6-second run to 100km/h. Drive it less willingly and claimed fuel use is 7.1L/100km; real world results are likely to be in the low teens.
2Powerful Handle with flair
engine plus light, rear-wheel drive chassis equals a no-brainer for driving purists and it’s here the M140i excels. There’s a directness to driving this car that rewards beyond the numbers on the speedo. The steering is weighted to perfection, the eight-speed auto (a six-speed manual is a no-cost option) is happy to hang on to gears in sports setting and the chassis and suspension are a well-sorted package. It is an engaging car to the point where you’ll start making excuses to get behind the wheel.
3Beyond Ownership isn’t onerous
needing to find $64,900 to own the M140i, the initial servicing costs are more than reasonable at $1340 for the first five years/80,000km. The top-shelf 1 Series is packed with the latest infotainment software, high-end satnav and audio but the likes of adaptive cruise control and autonomous emergency braking aren’t on the list. Metallic paint will add more than $1000. Drive it hard and tyres and brake pads will be regular consumables.
4Those Dare to be different
inclined to see how hard the hot hatch goes should tick the $5390 mechanical limited-slip diff option. The electronic locking diff linked to the stability control is a long way removed from a proper set-up and the M140i has the power and poise to make use of a device that will improve cornering pace. The brakes are upgraded and it rides on adaptive suspension, so there should be little else to worry about for a track day drive.
5The It is fast, not furious
hatch stows 360L of luggage, making the M140i a less practical load-lugger than the M240i coupe at 390L. Carry people rather than ports and the hatch wins, with more front and rear legroom and far better rear headroom. Understated looks make it easy to go incognito — until it is driven in sports mode. The exhaust burble is the give-away: this isn’t your average vanilla Beemer.