M135i

The price goes against it but the BMW is the bet­ter driver’s car de­spite some worth­while re­cent up­dates for the Benz.

The Courier-Mail - Motoring - - Head To Head -

VALUE

A base price over $60,000 brings ex­pec­ta­tions be­yond a Golf GTi for hot hatch buy­ers, and $62,900 does not shape up well against the cheaper Benz. But the BMW ap­proach is a clas­sic for the class, jam­ming a big en­gine into a small body. Equip­ment has im­proved over time and in­cludes a rear-view cam­era in all 1 Se­ries vari­ants.

DE­SIGN-TECH

The ugly jut­ting nose of the early 1 Se­ries has been smoothed — Aussie-born stylist Calvin Luk did it in Ger­many in his first ma­jor job for BMW. It’s a worth­while facelift that makes the car look less dumpy, while the cabin is open and airy with a big in­fo­tain­ment screen and ad­justable sports seats in the 135. As an M-Sport model it’s not as in-your-face as the full-on M2 hatch that’s com­ing soon.

EN­GINE

The turbo six was a su­pe­rior en­gine to be­gin with. The 3.0-litre’s out­puts in­crease (now 240kW/450N). With the eight-speed sports auto and rear-drive it clocks just 4.9 sec­onds for the 0-100km/h sprint. Power de­liv­ery is lin­ear and im­pres­sive with in­cred­i­ble flex­i­bil­ity, though the claimed 7.9L/100km, a rea­son­able thirst, will head sky­ward if you get keen.

SAFETY

BMW is not as gen­er­ous with airbags as Benz and the 1 Se­ries lacks some of the lat­est ac­tive safety gear found on its ri­val. Still, it’s an im­pres­sive over­all pack­age that earns five stars from ANCAP. And the M-Sport sus­pen­sion, elec­tronic dif­fer­en­tial lock and big­ger M-Sport fourpis­ton brakes give the car a greater safety mar­gin for keen driv­ers.

DRIV­ING

It’s an old-school rear-drive ex­pe­ri­ence that’s still in­cred­i­bly re­ward­ing and fun. The M135i can take a lit­tle tam­ing but when you move to the Sport+ set­tings and un­cork the full 240kW it’s a rip­snorter. The sus­pen­sion is firm but not jar­ring, the brakes are great and the eight-speed auto is sweet. It’s also easy to park.

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