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