The BMW M135i xDrive is BMW’s most affordable new ‘M light’ or M Performance vehicle. While not a fully fledged M car, you can experience a taste of BMW M while retaining much of the practicality the standard 1 Series model is known for. So, what’s it like to live with?
Often overshadowed by its famous predecessor, the six-cylinder BMW M140i, the BMW M135i xDrive has much of its own brilliance to showcase. With a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine producing 302 bhp and 450 Nm, xDrive all-wheel drive, and an 8-speed automatic transmission, the M135i xDrive is set up for success. We’ve spent an extended period of time with the BMW M135i xDrive, driving it every day and putting it through its paces - now it’s time to tell you what we think.
Daily Driving - Is it practical?
One of the many great appeals for owning an M Performance vehicle like the M135i xDrive is the blend of performance and practicality. This is certainly the case here. Although the 1 Series is BMW’s smallest model currently available, you’ll appreciate the generous amount of boot space as well as the legroom in this hatchback. Those who’ve owned hot hatches in the past or have come from a vehicle with a few less doors will certainly appreciate how much easier it is to live with an M135i xDrive from a practicality standpoint. Despite being on the smaller side in comparison to many of the BMW’s on offer today, it offers a lot more space than you may expect.
If you were looking to increase luggage space even further, dropping down the rear seats or exploring BMW’s range of parts and accessories can boost storage capacity yet again.
So, transporting passengers and luggage around is pretty stress-free in the M135i xDrive, but what about the other aspects of daily driving? Well, thanks to the automatic transmission and xDrive all-wheel drive, you really do feel confident in just about all driving conditions you're likely to face on the road. The example we tested was equipped with Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres - arguably the best option for this car and many alike. With this setup, traction levels and overall handling was sublime. Even in the pouring rain there was no doubt about the M135i’s ability to grip up even when pushed harder. We’ll explore the full extent of this model’s performance capabilities shortly.
The upgraded cabin of the latest generation (F40) 1 Series is a huge step up. Well-built, aesthetically pleasing and possessing excellent functionality, there isn’t much more you’d wish for from the cabin of a performance hatchback. Using Apple CarPlay is naturally a popular choice but it’s also worth exploring all that the BMW iDrive 7 system has to offer. This is one of the best infotainment systems around and stacks up incredibly well even against BMW’s newer systems. The main touch screen display and accompanying driver display are integrated particularly well within the interior of the 1 Series.
We were lucky enough to have a very high specification vehicle to test - this was equipped with all optional packages (M Sport Pro Pack, Comfort Pack and Technology Pack) as well as additional features such as the Driver Assistance Package and Adaptive Cruise Control. We found that the head-up display, Adaptive LED Headlights with High-Beam Assistant, Comfort Access and heated steering wheel to be some of the most beneficial extras from the three main optional packs. It’s certainly worth exploring the additional options available if you’re interested in purchasing an M135i xDrive as your daily driver or plan on travelling plenty of miles. Almost all of the optional features focus on enhancing technology, comfort, and general ease of use.
The BMW M135i xDrive is a fairly firm ride and you certainly feel the bumps when traversing rough terrain - otherwise known as your local pot-hole infested roads. However, considering the performance on offer, it really does provide enough comfort day to day for the majority of people. If you’re used to driving performance cars then this kind of feeling will be nothing out of the ordinary - if anything perhaps an improvement over many. The optional Adaptive Suspension improves ride comfort further but isn’t available with the 19” wheels specified on many cars including the one we’ve been driving.
Although you’re probably not buying a car like the BMW M135i xDrive with fuel economy in mind, you’d be surprised by just how efficient it can be with the appropriate driving style. Fully utilising the car’s performance will of course consume more fuel but if you’re cruising on the motorway for example, we managed to achieve figures in the high forties when it comes to miles per gallon. Taking advantage of the vehicle’s specially tailored driving modes will allow you to optimise the vehicle depending on what aspect of the drive you're focusing on. Eco Pro is perfect when you’re targeting reduced fuel consumption.
When it’s time to have fun
302 bhp, a perfect amount for use on public roads. The M135i xDrive hits a real sweet spot when it comes to its power output. It’s very usable from day to day and makes manoeuvres such as overtakes incredibly safe and simple. By holding down the left shift paddle you can automatically downshift to the appropriate gear for a burst of maximum performance.
Although driving around in comfort mode still offers suitable responsiveness when you want to drive that little bit faster, switching to sport mode as well as the sport gearbox really does transform the M135i xDrive into something with increased aggression and precision. With an addictive launch control feature, you can also impress from a standstill at your local track day - travelling from 0-62 mph in only 4.8 seconds.
The BMW M135i xDrive really comes alive on twisty roads. Although technically on the heavier side for a hot hatch with a kerb weight of around 1600kg, the excellently designed chassis and xDrive system delivers mind blowing levels of traction wherever and whenever you need it. The sheer levels of grip and fantastic overall handling mean that the car does not feel particularly heavy at all, resulting in absolute confidence whenever you’re driving the M135i xDrive. Despite having lower power and a smaller engine than the previous M140i, its performance is a lot more usable, particularly when it's wet.
The BMW M135i xDrive is one of the most well-rounded daily driver performance cars out there. Effortless speed and genuine practicality come together to create a highly versatile package. If you’re looking for an affordable do-it-all hatchback and an introduction to BMW M’s performance magic, then the M135i xDrive is certainly the perfect daily driver for you.
Being initially released in 2019, there are now many brilliant used examples of the BMW M135i xDrive available across Dick Lovett BMW. Alternatively, if you’re looking to create your very own new car, you can do exactly that.