After attending the launch of BMW’s 1 Series CoupÃ©, I was keen for a closer look at the 135i. Initially I thought the 1 Series CoupÃ© was a bit of a design faux pas, however, the more I see it, the more cohesive its design appears to be. The 1 is certainly a car that looks better in the flesh than in photos. Even the Sedona Red colour, used in most of the promotional material, looks better than photos would suggest. As with most current BMWâ€™s the visual language is unmistakable and on the 1 Series CoupÃ© it is from the dramatic shoulder line the rest of the carâ€™s visual cues hang. Its stubby tail gives the car a squat aggressive look that sums up the its raison dâ€™etre perfectly. Most importantly for BMW, in a segment that is all about traditional swoopy coupÃ©s, like the 350Z, Audiâ€™s gorgeously updated TT, or even BMWâ€™s own Z4, the 1 Series CoupÃ© provides a unique and fresh solution.
Well, whatâ€™s it like to drive? In a response that will be a cop out I canâ€™t give even a hint of a definitive answer. My time in the 135i was a bit like those rides outside the supermarket you used pester your parents to let you have turn on as a young kid. Just when you were really getting into it, your time ran out. I didnâ€™t quite throw a tantrum when I handed back the keys to the 135i, though!
The roads tasted were not ideal and told me something I already knew, the 135i is very, very capable in a straight line. Perhaps in typical teutonic style the car is clinically efficient and the drama of its pace is masked somewhat. That said, there can be no denying the effortless ease with which the car gains speed. It doesnâ€™t throw you back in your seat, although the 135i greatly impresses by showing no signs of rapid progress abating. All due to the sublime 225kW twin-turbo engine, of course. I’m not sure what the engine note of the inline six is like outside the car, but inside the cabin it sounds superb.
In fast paced sweepers the car feels predictably planted. The six-pot brakes are capable of washing off speed both quickly and with great stability. Unfortunately, I wasnâ€™t able to take the car on roads deserving of this car, but watch this space.
The typically BMW interior may attract criticism for being too dark and being a bit bland, but I quite like the fact the driver can just focus on the road ahead. Vision from the car is good, the seats are very, very good and the steering wheel is just about perfect. Perhaps the only criticism I could find was the use of plastics on the rear of the front seats. Given the intended market I suppose this is forgivable. Mind, if you have a need to ferry around four adults (including driver) the two rear seats are quite roomy, not luxurious by any means, but definitely useable. As to be expected, the car is well put together and the interior does not disappoint as far as build quality is concerned.
Of course, for a four seat, two door coupÃ© the 135i isnâ€™t exactly cheap, starting at $71,400 plus options and on roads. But for the performance on offer and in the context of its market segment the 135i is a relative bargain. Compared to the undeniably more attractive, if less dramatic, 335i CoupÃ© the 135i fares very well. And this explains why BMW Australia is having no trouble at all in attracting interest in the car. The 1 Series may be the runt of BMWâ€™s litter, but at no time do you ever feel like the car is not worthy of the badge and the prestige it brings. The 135i is a proper BMW, in every sense.
While I would like to give a more definitive opinion on the driving capabilities of the 135i I simply cannot. Suffice to say I really enjoyed my time in the car and am doing my best to arrange a longer test drive after which I will be able to report back with greater authority.
Thank you to Rolfe Classic BMW for their assistance.