It’s a fond farewell for both our 86 and M140i long ter­m­ers

Motor (Australia) - - CONTENTS - – SN

TIME’S up for 1ID-7CK – those three months went ex­tremely quickly. Trou­ble is, even if BMW was happy for us to keep it longer we couldn’t have, as we drove it so much it was fast ap­proach­ing the 10,000km at which test cars are grounded. It’s a mark of the high es­teem in which we hold the M140i that it racked up kays so quickly, but be­fore we wrap-up the good, the bad and the ugly of BMW’s uber-hatch we need to talk tyres.

The Per­for­mance Edi­tion comes fit­ted with snazzy 19-inch wheels, but be­cause all the PE gear is fit­ted lo­cally, each car comes on the big boat from the Father­land wear­ing its stan­dard 18-inch rims. To save it­self from hav­ing 60 pairs of M140i rims clut­ter­ing up its ware­house, BMW Aus­tralia pro­vides buy­ers with both sets of rims, so with our long-ter­mer reach­ing the end of its ten­ure it was time to swap.

If you’re won­der­ing why we’d bother, the an­swer is that the two rim sizes wear dif­fer­ent rub­ber. The stan­dard 18s use Miche­lin Pi­lot Su­per Sports, while the 19s are fit­ted with Pirelli P Zero run-flats. That said, it wasn’t long be­fore I was won­der­ing why I both­ered. As tyre swaps go it was about as far from the two-pointsome­thing-sec­ond ef­forts of var­i­ous F1 teams as you could imag­ine.

The first un­for­tu­nate dis­cov­ery was the lack of any tyre-chang­ing equip­ment in the back of the BMW. A vis­it­ing Audi press car do­nated a tyre iron and a trol­ley jack was found, only to find the lat­ter wouldn’t fit un­der the front bumper. Thank­fully, it j-u-s-t squeezed un­der the side sills and around 30 dirty, sweaty min­utes, a few skinned knuck­les and many curse words later the M140i was wear­ing a shiny new set of boots. This is why the rat­tle gun was in­vented.

So, did the car feel any dif­fer­ent?

Yes, a lit­tle. It cer­tainly looked dif­fer­ent. The 19s are a nice de­sign (though time-con­sum­ing to clean) and fill the guards bet­ter, but I’m ac­tu­ally quite a fan of the stan­dard 18s. (While we’re on the topic of looks, I can’t un­der­stand the hate for the

1 Se­ries’ styling. The ini­tial F20 de­sign, with its squinty head­lights, was a bit of an eye­sore, but since the facelift it just strikes me as a fairly in­of­fen­sive five-door box.)

Dif­fer­ences be­tween the two tyres’ be­hav­iour were slight. As a more sport­ing tyre, the Miche­lins gave greater out­right grip, though were also a lit­tle more abrupt when they started to slide, and the taller side­wall (40-se­ries vs the Pirelli’s 35-se­ries) and non-run­flat con­struc­tion gave the car a bit more com­pli­ance, though the mar­gins were small. With a gun to my head I’d take the Miche­lins, but hon­estly I’d prob­a­bly keep the 19s on for road use and keep the spare

18s for the track, one place we sadly didn’t get to ven­ture dur­ing our time with the M140i PE.

None­the­less, it’s easy to come to a con­clu­sion about the M140i. It’s ab­so­lutely one of our favourite hot hatches, the com­bi­na­tion of that smooth and su­per-grunty turbo straight-six and rear-drive han­dling never fail­ing to bring out the in­ner hoon and en­tic­ing you to drive that lit­tle bit more en­thu­si­as­ti­cally than is re­ally nec­es­sary. It has the roll-on pace to stick with the likes of the Audi RS3 and Mercedes-AMG A45, yet is more in­volv­ing and thanks to a re­cent price cut to $59,990 for the base car, miles cheaper than both.

The Per­for­mance Edi­tion is a harder sell. It’s a good value pack­age, es­pe­cially when you price up the var­i­ous com­po­nents in­di­vid­u­ally, and the in­clu­sion of the lim­ited-slip diff on the 15 man­ual cars is an in­spired choice – we stick by our as­ser­tion it should be stan­dard fit.

The rest – M Per­for­mance ex­haust, car­bon and Al­can­tara in­te­rior bits, 19s, etc – is nice if you’re af­ter some­thing more ex­clu­sive, but per­son­ally I’d be very happy buy­ing a stan­dard M140i, tick­ing the heated cloth seats box and spend­ing the money saved on that chunk of metal in the rear axle. Ei­ther way, it’s a great car, buy one while you can.

With its su­per-grunty turbo straight-six and rear-drive han­dling the M140i is ab­so­lutely one of our favourite hot hatches

Per­for­mance Edi­tion 19s (left) wear Pirelli P Zero run flats, while the stan­dard 18s use Miche­lin Pi­lot Su­per Sports

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