Archive for The Motor Forum "We are mature men in the highest cadres of our careers"
 


       The Motor Forum Forum Index -> Test Driven
Andy C

BMW M135i (passenger ride)

No, I havenít bought one, and no I didnít get a drive, but a few days ago I turned up to a customersí house who I noticed had a grey 3 door M135i on the drive. He turned out to be a bit of a petrolhead (his previous car was a track prepped supercharged MX5 which was his daily drive too), so when he mentioned he needed fuel and would I like a passenger ride, I didnít want to turn down the chance to see what this car, especially the engine, is all about.

This example was grey with red leather, and it looked very understated. Get it de-badged and it would be a great q-car! You sit nice and low, and the seat is very supportive. †The engine fires into a distinctive BMW 6 howl, which then settles to a quiet idle. It sounds much angrier than a 130i, even on start up. †Itís one of those engines that even pootling around town; you know youíre in something thatís going to be at least reasonably quick when the loud pedal is pressed! If this is what acoustics through the dashboard can do, then why are people complaining? †Fake or not, it sounds fantastic.

I wasnít totally sold on the ride. Pootling around his housing estate Iíd already decided the noise was sorted. However I was pretty surprised to say the least when I noticed on the screen it said comfort mode. The ride was very busy. You could feel every bump and uneven surface, and didnít feel settled at all. He flicked a switch down by the gearbox, which turned it to sport just as we were getting to the end of his estate and onto a faster road. I canít say the ride got any worse, so this is why I asked the question a few days ago on the forum. †Iím no BMW expert, so all the buttons and setting were pretty oblivious to me, so all I can presume is his car didnít have adaptive dampers, and that he turned it to sport to sharpen the gearbox up due to us getting onto a faster road. †From what Iíve read, a standard car (without adaptive dampers) rides about the same as a car with adaptive dampers in sport mode. I canít say the ride was that bad it would put me off the car, but I would definitely source one that had adaptive dampers, knowing there was a more comfy setting for around town! †It seems only fair to use my car as a comparison, also, for £515; I canít see why you wouldnít considering the technology involved. †The ride also improved considerably once onto smoother, non-pothole ridden roads. †Itís only fair to use my car as a comparison, and the fact of the matter is my 7 year old fast Ford destroys this BMW when it comes to low speed ride. The damping in the Ford soaks up harshness in a way the BMW couldnít get anywhere near.

Having now seen how good this 8 speed auto is, itís the first time Iíve ever thought to myself I could live with an auto. Yes autos are more convenient around town or when stuck in traffic, but to me they take the fun of driving away. †Autos to me are jerky, slow and wonít let you change when you want to. †From what I saw with this box, especially in manual mode, it was silky smooth, unbelievably fast changing and always changed when the guy wanted it to. My experience of autos is my Granddads old 306, a Tigra convertible and Dan Gís Merc C350cdi. †The Merc felt other worldly to the other two (obviously!), but the BMWs seemed to have moved the game on from his, especially in manual mode. †I seriously couldnít believe the speed of the changes.

The engine is without doubt the star of the show. Itís massively torquey low down, and has a scintillating, manic and rapid top end. Again, comparing it to my car, in gear there didnít really feel much in it at all. I think the torque kicks in a smidgen lower than mine (the BMW was already pulling below 2000rpm), whereas mine you need at least 2000rpm for it to really do anything. But gun it from 30mph in 3rd (about 2000rpm) and they both fire you down the road with a real punch in the back, coupled with a muted deep growl from mine, and a higher pitched scream from the BMW. The difference being the BMW loves to rev. The power delivery is super smooth and the thing just thrives on revs. From 6-7000rpm, the noise and pace is just epic. The ST has long run out of puff by now! Its pointless revving mine right to the 6000rpm red line, instead changing up about 5500rpm so youíre right in the next gears creamy torque band. †Iím in no way trying to say mine is as quick as the M135i. It has more power, and will do 0-100mph in 11 seconds, compared to 13.9 for mine, but in gear, it was very close!

Going from a 306 d turbo to a Clio 172 cup was considerable step up in performance, and going from a Clio 172 cup to a Mountuned ST was another considerable step up in performance. Itís now dawned on me what the bloody hell do I replace the ST to get that next step up in performance ?! How many cylinders, litres and £££££ more would it be?! Of course, in reality I donít, and the performance from the M135i is more than enough and I would be completely happy with it. †What an engine.
Subject to me driving it next time and liking it, I can easily see me buying one of these or a Golf R as my next car in a few years time.
Racing Teatray

Interesting to hear. I think the ride on my car is pretty good in Comfort, so perhaps the adaptive makes a difference. But then I've heard others say that adaptive isn't worth it because the standard set-up is so well-judged. So God only knows!

Certainly it rides much better than my 135i coupe and 330d Sport did. The M5, which also had adaptive suspension, was remarkably cushty in Comfort - probably more so than the M135i.
Andy C

Yours must sound absolutely epic with the sports exhaust!
Martin

Similar thoughts to mine after a test drive, especially the combination of great mid range and top end. †I also agree that the gearbox is excellent, super smooth when cruising and very quick changes in sport, it's so much better than any other auto I've used. † Full sport mode sometimes feels a bit aggressive in mine, especially if you've been wafting around in comfort for a while, but it's impressive all the same. †Having said that, if we'd bought an M135i it would have been a manual.

I was less impressed with the noise it made and wasn't surprised when Racing upgraded the exhaust. †I didn't think it was particularly uncomfortable either, but the one I drove had the adaptive dampers and we were in comfort on the way out to the dual carriagway.

If we had been constrained by the need for a more practical car, we'd have bought an M135i, it is a very good car. † I'm not sure I would now I have the 535d, but there are more decent options available now than 12 months ago.

The problem with a significant increase in performance over the ST/M135i is that you won't be able to use it all very often and that would be frustrating, especially when a lot of the enjoyment from a decent engine comes from using the whole rev range.
Chocy Rocky

It does read as if you are pretty smitten with it Andy. Not that I would blame you.
Stuntman

Nice review, Andy.  

Dunno if you remember your brief passenger ride in my M3 a couple of years ago (back from Nailsworth, IIRC?) - the dampers were in Comfort.  In my experience the M3's ride in Comfort is better than my old E46 M3 on 18"s (passive suspension) and on my mate's previous-gen 135i Coupe, and miles better than a first-gen Z4 3.0 I once passengered in.

The same goes for the adaptives on the 987.1 Cayman: PASM in Normal is nicer (in my experience) than a passively-suspended Cayman.  Apparently the 981-gen cars are even more compliant (in a good way) and are also a lot more tolerable on-road in the Sport setting.

I'd definitely spec the adaptives if I was looking at a M135i or M235i.
Martin

A thought I had on the way home....when he went into Sport mode, did he also move the gear selector over to the left?  The gear changes are even quicker if you do.  It likes to hold onto even lower gears in full on Sport Auto, but you can use the paddles to calm things down a little and get the same super quick changes.
simonp

I like the auto in my car. It has a couple of foibles, such as wanting to be in a higher (D) or lower gear (S) than I'd like at 30 mph, but the one I want is just a manual override away. My only issue with auto 'boxes is the possibility of big bills once the car is out of warranty...
Andy C

Dan - the only thing I really remember about the m3 was just how rapid it was when you got to about 5k!

Martin - I'm genuinely staggered you were dissapointed with the noise .  Yes he did move it over to the left , just as we
Were getting onto the a444.
Martin

Don't get me wrong, I didn't think it was bad at all, just didn't sound as good as I'd hoped / expected, so I was a bit disapointed. † I didn't think it sounded as good as the 130i, but a lot of time has passed since I had that car, so I may have over fond memories? ††I assume Racing felt the same, otherwise he wouldn't have felt the need to get the Performance Exhaust so early on (I know the epic sounding M5 was a hard act to follow).

If you were that impressed, you should have a ride in the Boxster at some point! †
Nice Guy Eddie

Andy C wrote:
Dan - the only thing I really remember about the m3 was just how rapid it was when you got to about 5k!



Got to agree with that. Dans M3 is a bit of a monster.
Roadsterstu

Nice review. I really must get a ride in a 135i at some point. It's my type of car in terms of looks, at least - the subtle looks not really even hinting at the performance on offer.
PG

I'd love to be a fly on the wall at the next BMW planning meeting when the "let's have a turbo 4 pot in the next M1xx but charge the same, after all Merc got away with it" debate gets debated. I hope the eco-weanies / marketeers lose. As BMW are to be applauded for doing the M135i.
Bob Sacamano

PG wrote:
I'd love to be a fly on the wall at the next BMW planning meeting when the "let's have a turbo 4 pot in the next M1xx but charge the same, after all Merc got away with it" debate gets debated. I hope the eco-weanies / marketeers lose. As BMW are to be applauded for doing the M135i.


You would hope they'd keep the 6 cylinder engines and use cylinder deactivation to appease the environmentalists. Perhaps 6 cylinders on full throttle openings and 3 cylinders when cruising.
PhilD

Bob Sacamano wrote:
PG wrote:
I'd love to be a fly on the wall at the next BMW planning meeting when the "let's have a turbo 4 pot in the next M1xx but charge the same, after all Merc got away with it" debate gets debated. I hope the eco-weanies / marketeers lose. As BMW are to be applauded for doing the M135i.


You would hope they'd keep the 6 cylinder engines and use cylinder deactivation to appease the environmentalists. Perhaps 6 cylinders on full throttle openings and 3 cylinders when cruising.


I can see this or the M1/M2 having a 3 cylinder with electric motor at some point in the not too distant future.
Alf McQueef

Interesting review - I would definitely want the adaptive suspension personally. I have far from ruled out an M135i next - it would make a good !all in one" car if I could bring myself to occasionally track my daily driver.

I thought your 11 second 0-100 was a typo and looked it up - but you are right. I did not think it was that quick - that's amazingly fast! I can't recall what the time was for the E90 335i but I remember it turned some heads.

The low revs torque of the 335/135 engine is amazing. I have a friend with one of the older, twin turbo, E91 335i's and even before he chipped it to aroun 400 bhp, it really took me back how well it pulled from not much over 2000 revs. It is totally chalk and cheese with mine, which is effortless at all revs but not remotely quick at those sorts of revs.

The 135i and 235i remain something of a bargain given current prices of other cars - journos can rave all they like about the Golf R and A45's all-weather all-road abilities, but as something to live with day-in, day-out, the 6 pot takes some beating. And the 135i is desribed as riding well by most people, so imagine how stiff the others are - there seem to be a lot of enthusiasts who are not happy unless their fillings are being rattled out, which again is not ideal for people actually using their car a lot.
Martin

Alf McQueef wrote:
The low revs torque of the 335/135 engine is amazing.


Amazing? 300-300 lb-ft is good, but not when you're used to 465 lb-ft! †

I am joking. †

The M135i pulls right through the rev range and feels like a step up in performance over a Z4 35i, so I assume it feels a fair bit faster than a 335i.

The Boxster initially felt very light on torque after the 535d, but I love the way the power (and the howl) builds as the revs increase. †It encourages you to use the full range much more often and is more interesting/exciting than a turbocharged, linear engine imho. † It's the right sort of engine for the type of car, but it wouldn't really suit a big heavy estate.

You can't beat having plenty of torque in your daily driver, as it makes everything so effortless and relaxing when you want it to be and gives you a decent turn of speed when you don't.
Big Blue

PG wrote:
I'd love to be a fly on the wall at the next BMW planning meeting when the "let's have a turbo 4 pot in the next M1xx but charge the same, after all Merc got away with it" debate gets debated. I hope the eco-weanies / marketeers lose. As BMW are to be applauded for doing the M135i.


Hmm... the forerunner to the small M-car was the 2002 Turbo - a four pot turbo. The most iconic M3 is the E30. A four pot NA. The four pot BMW block with a massive turbo on it was also the most successful BMW F1 engine ever, so they kind of have a good history with this arrangement.

The E36 and E46 sixes sold like nothing else and the E46 was the beater of the 911 in tests at the time, hence the regard for six cylinder engines.

I am biased, having had a fair few 6 cylinder cars (E36 325, E46 323, E39 530, VW Sharan V6, Alpina B10 3.3 and another E46 323) but I'd really like to drive and hear a current 328i with the turbo four to feel how it drives and delivers its power. I'd assume it will be superbly resolved car but won't howl like an old six. Road and Track in the USA preferred the old six but didn't say the new one was a dog by any means.

I reckon a real M2 / M4 would be one with lightweight plastic panels, reduced luxury equipment (interior lighting and a bit of a less comfy rear seat etc.), revised suspension and geometry and a four-pot tuned to death, maybe with a turbo and loud exhaust.
JohnC

Big Blue wrote:
but I'd really like to drive and hear a current 328i with the turbo four to feel how it drives and delivers its power. I'd assume it will be superbly resolved car but won't howl like an old six. Road and Track in the USA preferred the old six but didn't say the new one was a dog by any means.

.


I drove one and it was very quiet and smooth - nothing like my wife's old 328i in the sound department. It had a very linear power delivery and was quick enough without being really fast. I thought it felt slower than its figures suggest but then those are taken using launch control etc.

Quiet and smooth are what I remember without any great rewards for wringing its neck but a very competent motor without much aural interaction.
Stuntman

I hear what BB is saying about BMW's 4-cylinder heritage, but I think it would be a massive shame if BMW didn't stick with a straight six in the "35i" and M2 cars.

From personal experience, the engine in the E46 M3 was just... naughty.
Racing Teatray

After having had one for over two years now, I can quite see why BMW rightly markets it as an "M Performance" rather than an "M". It's faster and harder, and more fun than a normal BMW but nevertheless lacks that ultimate and indefinable sense of occasion and charisma that decent Ms, AMGs and RSs have, and which my M5 had in spades.

Of course, it also doesn't have all the (largely cost-related) downsides of its more potent brethren and that's a huge part of the appeal - it's a very fast car that you can justify owning without outrageous quantities of man maths, because it is low key, decently practical and has the fuel consumption, servicing costs and insurance premiums of a normal BMW, not an M car.

       The Motor Forum Forum Index -> Test Driven
Page 1 of 1
Create your own free forum | Buy a domain to use with your forum