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We have now had a bit of time to digest the new M135i. The general response has been overwhelmingly negative, and rightly so when you compare the headline figures to the outgoing M140i. But is that a fair comparison? Is it the correct comparison?
Let’s first start with the M140i. On reflection, this car has always been closer to the A45 AMG and the RS3 than the M Performance tag might insinuate. It is arguably an LSD and suspension kit away from a full blown M.
That made it a bargain when it went on market and now completely bonkers cheap on the second hand market.
So where does that leave the new M135i, and why the “step backwards”? Well you need to begin with the most important figure of all for BMW. 3%. That is the percentage of sales that M Performance models of the 1 Series account for.
This means that despite you and I (car people) caring about the M Performance line up, the large majority do not care. They care about fuel consumption, an M Sport body kit and practicality (broadly speaking).
BMW have had to listen to this and have firmly set their sights on No.1 cost saving and No.2 the Mercedes A35 AMG.
The later is actually what I would compare the M135i to now, as the similarities are staggering. Price Merc starts at just under £36k, BM expected to start at £36k. Both have AWD with a 50:50 torque distribution. Both have 4.7s 0-60 times. Both have 306bhp... I could go on and on.
My question is then, is the Mercedes A35 a bad car? I think the general consensus is that its a decent car for the money. So why are we all hating on the new M135i?
We’ll reserve judgement for the first drive. But in the meantime, lets all appreciate the M140i as BMWs gift to petrolheads. I’m now starting to wonder why I don’t have one?!