BMW has unveiled the racy 316bhp M135i. Seen here in its production guise for the first time, the turbocharged 3.0-litre, six-cylinder hot-hatch has been officially confirmed as the performance flagship of BMW’s second-generation 1-series line-up after being previewed as a concept at the Geneva motor show earlier in March.
The rear-wheel-drive M135i is the second model to join BMW’s new M Performance line-up, following the M550d xDrive. Unlike its 376bhp, tri-turbocharged diesel sibling, the petrol-powered M135i has been engineered for both left- and right-hand drive markets. Alongside the initial three-door model, BMW is also readying a five-door version.
The M135i is powered by the latest take on BMW’s widely-used N55 engine. The 3.0-litre straight-six uses a twin-scroll turbocharger along with BMW’s patented Valvetronic variable valve control and double Vanos variable camshaft control systems, along with the latest in piezo valve-guided direct injection to deliver 316bhp at 5000rpm. Channelling drive to the rear wheels is a standard six-speed Getrag manual gearbox, or an optional eight-speed automatic from ZF — both featuring stop-start and brake energy recuperation functions.
BMW claims, officially, that in manual form the M135i is capable of cracking 0-100kph in 5.1 seconds. The eight-speed automatic version cuts this figure to 4.9sec. A claimed kerb weight of 1425kg gives the most powerful 1-series hatchback yet a power-to-weight ratio of 222bhp per tonne.
The M135i is distinguished from its standard three-door 1-series siblings by an aggressively styled body kit developed in-house at BMW’s M division. The sculpting includes a deep front bumper with larger air ducts for increased engine cooling, chunkier side sills under the long frameless doors, shapely mirror housings, a prominent spoiler atop the tailgate and a heavily reworked rear bumper with a blackened lower section housing two chromed tailpipes.
As with every model developed by BMW’s M division, it has undergone extensive chassis testing, including a 6000-mile programme at the Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit in Germany.
The new car rides on a reworked version of the standard 1-series’ rear-wheel drive chassis, with MacPherson struts up front and a five-link arrangement at the rear. Stiffer springs, dampers and bushes give the car a lower ride height than other new three-door 1-series models. Included as standard are uniquely styled double five-spoke 18-inch wheels — 7.5 inches wide up front and 8.0 inches at the rear — shod with 225/40 and 245/35 tyres respectively.
Further changes have been directed at the steering; the electro-mechanical system has been tuned for added directness and more urgent response. The brakes, too, have been upgraded and feature 340mm ventilated discs up front and 345mm ventilated discs at the rear. They are grabbed by newly developed four-piston calipers up front and two-piston calipers at the rear — all bearing a blue colour scheme and sporting the stylised M logo of BMW’s M division, which has been responsible for the development of all the company’s new M Performance models.
From November onwards, BMW will offer a four-wheel drive option with a similarly powered M135i xDrive.
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Issue: 165 | May 2013
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