2008 BMW 1 Series Long Term Road Test


2008 BMW 135i: Ain't no shame in havin' a small one

August 21, 2008

135i_ocean.jpg


It's easy to feel inadequate at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance. Money is everywhere. Big money. During Concours weekend, the parking lots of even the most humble motels on the Monterey peninsula overflow with Ferraris, Aston Martins and Lamborghinis. So it was with a flush of humility that I rolled up to the Lodge at Pebble Beach this past Sunday in our BMW 135i. Sure, it's not a bad car, but it's not going to be in the catalog anytime soon at Gooding and Company, either.

After the awards had been given out and the confetti had been sprayed, I merged our little 1-Series into the long line of traffic waiting to wind its way out. As I crawled past Peter Hay Hill, I pulled over to say hello to a friend who was standing next to a pair of shiny Spykers parked by the curb. As we spoke, I sighed and stared at the beautiful Dutch sportscars. After a few minutes, I turned to get into the 135i and head home.

"Just a minute," said a man in a chauffeur uniform, whose limousine was parked next to our BMW. "Someone wants to ask you about your car."

Haha, very funny.

But as I started the engine, an older woman in a dramatic hat, sunglasses and red pants emerged from the back of the limo and started waving at me.

"Just a minute, please. Tell me about this car. It's so cute!"

I spent the next several minutes explaining the 135i's powertrain, handling characteristics, cargo capacity, and its similarities to (and differences from) other BMWs. As we spoke, people who were walking by paused to listen, curious about the little cinnamon-hued coupe parked among near-$300,000 sports cars.

At the end of our conversation, something hit me that I'd already known, but had somehow forgotten amidst the vintage one-offs and multi-million-dollar auction lots and couture-clad trophy wives: A good car doesn't have to cost six-figures. And it's better to push the limits with a powerful, well-handling midpriced automobile than to parade some supercar up and down the street at 20 miles per hour.

I drove all 350 miles home beaming with pride.

-- Laura Burstein, Automotive Editor @ 7,500 miles

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