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PR

M135i one year in (and a bit)

I can't quite believe it but it's now just over 13 months since the 130i made way for the M135i. These are my main impressions...

Good bits

- The powertrain. That combination of the 3.0 turbo six and eight-speed ZF auto oozes sophistication. It's deliciously smooth and refined, humming along at low speed and zinging effortlessly to a howl if you nail it. It's a superb power plant that doesn't feel like the poor relation when I get back to it after driving something with a 550ps supercharged 5.0 V8 for example...

- The ride and handling balance is much better than the 130i. It feels more planted and is much less prone to the abrupt rear end bounce of the old car. It's pretty sticky on Pilot Super Sports. Body control is vastly improved.

- The driving position is typically excellent with great BMW sport seats.

- Good Harman Kardon stereo

- Excellent sat nav

- I like the low key looks of a silver 5dr

- Remarkably economical for what it is.

Not so good

- If I'd written this a month ago, ride and handling would have been here. On its winter run flats it was genuinely unpleasant to drive. The ride was crashy and brittle and it didn't feel fully attached to the tarmac. Within metres of driving off with the summers bolted on I could tell it felt like a different car - it rides deftly and corners with a huge amount more assurance.

- It doesn't always feel quick - because the power and torque are so linear it's deceptive. The 130i gave more impression of speed. It also feels a bit reluctant to give everything it's got unless you're in sport mode. Don't get me wrong, though - it is quick!

- The steering is not great. It's too light in normal mode and too gummy feeling in sport. The XE has redefined my expectation of how fluid and confidence inspiring an electric rack should be.

- There are one or two stubborn cabin rattles and some trim like the carpet is a bit crappy.

- It's a bit 'clinical' compared to the 130i. It's absolutely the better car is objectively, but a bit lacking in - dare I say - character in comparison.

- Cruise control and parking sensors are weird spec omissions but that's not exactly the car's failing.

- I'd rather it had an electronic parking brake - the auto paired with a manual lever feels like a mismatch.

Overall it's definitely the right car for me and at no point have I wished I'd gone for something else instead.
Thomas Magman

Re: M135i one year in (and a bit)

PR wrote:
I can't quite believe it but it's now just over 13 months since the 130i made way for the M135i. These are my main impressions...

Good bits

- The powertrain. That combination of the 3.0 turbo six and eight-speed ZF auto oozes sophistication. It's deliciously smooth and refined, humming along at low speed and zinging effortlessly to a howl if you nail it. It's a superb power plant that doesn't feel like the poor relation when I get back to it after driving something with a 550ps supercharged 5.0 V8 for example...

- The ride and handling balance is much better than the 130i. It feels more planted and is much less prone to the abrupt rear end bounce of the old car. It's pretty sticky on Pilot Super Sports. Body control is vastly improved.

- The driving position is typically excellent with great BMW sport seats.

- Good Harman Kardon stereo

- Excellent sat nav

- I like the low key looks of a silver 5dr

- Remarkably economical for what it is.

Not so good

- If I'd written this a month ago, ride and handling would have been here. On its winter run flats it was genuinely unpleasant to drive. The ride was crashy and brittle and it didn't feel fully attached to the tarmac. Within metres of driving off with the summers bolted on I could tell it felt like a different car - it rides deftly and corners with a huge amount more assurance.

- It doesn't always feel quick - because the power and torque are so linear it's deceptive. The 130i gave more impression of speed. It also feels a bit reluctant to give everything it's got unless you're in sport mode. Don't get me wrong, though - it is quick!

- The steering is not great. It's too light in normal mode and too gummy feeling in sport. The XE has redefined my expectation of how fluid and confidence inspiring an electric rack should be.

- There are one or two stubborn cabin rattles and some trim like the carpet is a bit crappy.

- It's a bit 'clinical' compared to the 130i. It's absolutely the better car is objectively, but a bit lacking in - dare I say - character in comparison.

- Cruise control and parking sensors are weird spec omissions but that's not exactly the car's failing.

- I'd rather it had an electronic parking brake - the auto paired with a manual lever feels like a mismatch.

Overall it's definitely the right car for me and at no point have I wished I'd gone for something else instead.



I see 2 or 3 of these on my work commute  - a white one on a T plate and a blue 07 reg and then another 15 plate white one.

They always sound pretty good to me. I rarely ever see a 130i ( or 3 litre coupe 1-series ) though, in fact I think the older 325ti is more common round here.

All on my list for future ownership
gooner

I've not seen many but have seen a lot of M235s about, the coupe body shape seems to be more popular. Glad you're enjoying it Piers.
Thomas Magman

Yes, good write-up
Martin

Good balanced write up and pleased to hear you're still enjoying it.
Roadsterstu

I really do like the M135i - it hits that "subtle looks, big engine, small car" nail right on the head. These are definitely on my radar for a future car.

Glad to hear you are enjoying it, Piers!
gonnabuildabuggy

Roadsterstu wrote:
I really do like the M135i - it hits that "subtle looks, big engine, small car" nail right on the head. These are definitely on my radar for a future car.

Glad to hear you are enjoying it, Piers!


Same.

Came up against one in the E500 and despite my power advantage I couldn't catch it in a straight line.

This or a Golf R are my "sensible car" preferences at the moment. TT or Coupe is less sensible option.
cbeaks1

Sooooooooo many Golf R's out there now there has to be a residual effect at some point. I'm not a big one for image being relevant (hence RS, and I had a Scorpio for christsakes), but the owners do not tend to be mature men in the highest cadre etc, which has dented the appeal a little.

I just checked out some TT's as the finance deposit contribution of 3k makes the 'price' reasonable, but the residual (or more accurately optional final payment) is only 12000 and some change after 2 years. Still makes for big payments.
gonnabuildabuggy

cbeaks1 wrote:
Sooooooooo many Golf R's out there now there has to be a residual effect at some point. I'm not a big one for image being relevant (hence RS, and I had a Scorpio for christsakes), but the owners do not tend to be mature men in the highest cadre etc, which has dented the appeal a little.


I'm looking forwards to the residuals dropping, just as I'm sure they will on the M135i which was the previous lease bargain. There simply must be a massive over supply of both models compared to used demand.

Oddly (or not, given that I'm a mature man with fairly well to do friends), all the people I know with Golf R's are mature men in the highest cadre.

Indeed the seller of the MNI, a 45 yr old accountant, was only selling it as he was getting a Golf R on a cheap lease deal.
Big Blue

Glad it's good Piers.

Power delivery sounds much like that of the Gorilla: it just happens and you gain speed. Only my fuel meter moves faster than yours. I still covert the M135i pre-LCI ugliness as a car for W2.0.
Michael

I was following a facelift M135i over the weekend and the back end is far less successful than the version it replaced. Those lights are way too big for it. Having seen Piers' car briefly I think it's a lovely thing, sounds very nice too. Glad you're enjoying it, I can appreciate how it compares to the 130i being a bit more grown up perhaps? A trip to the Performance parts catalogue may be in order...
Martin

I thought the same (feeling grown up) when I drove one, but if it's your main car, that's more of a positive than a negative.

Sounds like I'm alone, but I prefer the LCI looks, the rear lights are a step backwards but the new front end more than compensates.
Bob Sacamano

Martin wrote:
I thought the same (feeling grown up) when I drove one, but if it's your main car, that's more of a positive than a negative.

Sounds like I'm alone, but I prefer the LCI looks, the rear lights are a step backwards but the new front end more than compensates.


The 1 series was never a good looking car but the LCI is a big improvement at  both the front and the rear. The 118d M Sport i'm currently driving looks quite tidy from the front and side and the rear no longer looks like a Polo, which is a plus.
Racing Teatray

Nice write-up.

My thoughts:

Good bits

- The powertrain. That combination of the 3.0 turbo six and eight-speed ZF auto oozes sophistication. It's deliciously smooth and refined, humming along at low speed and zinging effortlessly to a howl if you nail it. It's a superb power plant that doesn't feel like the poor relation when I get back to it after driving something with a 550ps supercharged 5.0 V8 for example...

RT: I agree with the comments about the engine but with the manual gearbox it perhaps feels less sophisticated (as you would expect). Still a superbly flexible unit pulls like a train even in high gear/low revs situations which is a boon in a manual.

- The ride and handling balance is much better than the 130i. It feels more planted and is much less prone to the abrupt rear end bounce of the old car. It's pretty sticky on Pilot Super Sports. Body control is vastly improved.

RT: can't comment vs 130i. I find the body control ok without being amazing, but don't mind it as I'm not super keen on cars that don't telegraph their intentions.

- The driving position is typically excellent with great BMW sport seats.

RT: agreed. Despite several lengthy schlepps to the middle of Italy and back, neither my wife or I has ever had cause for complaint in this regard.

- Good Harman Kardon stereo

RT: wouldn't know I have the Business set-up as it was a launch campaign freebie when I ordered mine with no corresponding discount if you upgraded to HK so opted not to waste it! Never had cause for complaint with it though, even if it does lack some of the richness of sound that the Logic-7 in my old M5 had.

- Excellent sat nav

RT: yes, the nav is excellent.

- I like the low key looks of a silver 5dr

RT: same for black.

- Remarkably economical for what it is.

RT: agreed.

Not so good

- If I'd written this a month ago, ride and handling would have been here. On its winter run flats it was genuinely unpleasant to drive. The ride was crashy and brittle and it didn't feel fully attached to the tarmac. Within metres of driving off with the summers bolted on I could tell it felt like a different car - it rides deftly and corners with a huge amount more assurance.

RT: similar with the Continental runflat winter tyres I have, although I wouldn't quantify it as unpleasant. They have quite a lot less grip than the PSS though.

- It doesn't always feel quick - because the power and torque are so linear it's deceptive. The 130i gave more impression of speed. It also feels a bit reluctant to give everything it's got unless you're in sport mode. Don't get me wrong, though - it is quick!

RT: agreed. You need to floor it at the right point in the rev-range to really get that "gor-blimey yes this thing shifts" sensation.

- The steering is not great. It's too light in normal mode and too gummy feeling in sport. The XE has redefined my expectation of how fluid and confidence inspiring an electric rack should be.

RT: agreed.

- There are one or two stubborn cabin rattles and some trim like the carpet is a bit crappy.

RT: agreed re crappy boot carpet and horrid parcel shelf. Plus my rear-view mirror droops over time, especially in warm weather. But mine has fortunately steadfastly refused to rattle (so far, touch wood!).

- It's a bit 'clinical' compared to the 130i. It's absolutely the better car is objectively, but a bit lacking in - dare I say - character in comparison.

RT: I couldn't say it was clinical compared to the 135i, suggesting this is a turbo vs non-turbo issue.

- Cruise control and parking sensors are weird spec omissions but that's not exactly the car's failing.

RT: I have both. They work.

- I'd rather it had an electronic parking brake - the auto paired with a manual lever feels like a mismatch.

RT: Manual and manual suit one another.

Overall it's definitely the right car for me and at no point have I wished I'd gone for something else instead.

RT: Agreed. With the caveat that it was the right car 4 years ago when I wasn't married and had a sportscar in the garage as well, but now we're starting to think about moving on.
Thomas Magman

Racing T - how do you find the M compared to your old Coupe?
Racing Teatray

Faster, more practical and better-quality. But rather uglier.

But as I sold the 135i two and a half years before getting the M135i, I can't really provide much of an in-depth comparison of their respective driving merits. Memory tells me that they are not particularly dissimilar, other than that I can say that the M135i has considerably better throttle response in Sport mode than the 135i had (which lacked modes).

The 135i coupe is a very underrated little car. Particularly when you compare the cost of one to the frankly not all that dissimilar 1M. I did drive the 135i and 1M back-to-back and there isn't as much difference in the driving experience as the motoring journos might have you believe.
gooner

Racing Teatray wrote:
Faster, more practical and better-quality. But rather uglier.

But as I sold the 135i two and a half years before getting the M135i, I can't really provide much of an in-depth comparison of their respective driving merits. Memory tells me that they are not particularly dissimilar, other than that I can say that the M135i has considerably better throttle response in Sport mode than the 135i had (which lacked modes).

The 135i coupe is a very underrated little car. Particularly when you compare the cost of one to the frankly not all that dissimilar 1M. I did drive the 135i and 1M back-to-back and there isn't as much difference in the driving experience as the motoring journos might have you believe.


I can imagine the difference is not one you can ease out safely on public roads. The 1M probably makes better work of the Anglesea circuit in an Evo group test but for 9/10 people the 135i is probably as good a daily driver.
PhilD

gooner wrote:
Racing Teatray wrote:
Faster, more practical and better-quality. But rather uglier.

But as I sold the 135i two and a half years before getting the M135i, I can't really provide much of an in-depth comparison of their respective driving merits. Memory tells me that they are not particularly dissimilar, other than that I can say that the M135i has considerably better throttle response in Sport mode than the 135i had (which lacked modes).

The 135i coupe is a very underrated little car. Particularly when you compare the cost of one to the frankly not all that dissimilar 1M. I did drive the 135i and 1M back-to-back and there isn't as much difference in the driving experience as the motoring journos might have you believe.


I can imagine the difference is not one you can ease out safely on public roads. The 1M probably makes better work of the Anglesea circuit in an Evo group test but for 9/10 people the 135i is probably as good a daily driver.


1M looks epic though. One of those rare (relatively) cheap cars that can hang with supercars and not feel out of place
simonp

You should have posted this on the year mark, Piers, we could've reminded you to tax it!

Glad you're enjoying it, but I never for one second imagined you wouldn't.

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