2008 BMW 135i: Everything but the radio
December 03, 2008
Like most of the Edmunds staff, I love driving the 135. There are many great things about its driving experience: the accurate steering, the powerful and flexible engine, the excellent handling, the light and perfect shift action, the easy to control clutch. You've heard it all before. I even don't mind the flat-bottomed seats, although I've never tried the sport seats that everyone gushes about. Almost everything's great. Except the radio -- which is crap.
There are three areas where this radio disappoints:
1. Sound. It's terrible. Although it's not as tinny as the STI, it's barely acceptable. The audio performance doesn't befit a vehicle that costs $37K, even if this is the base radio and not the up-charge Branded Audio.
2. Appearance. It's looks really cheap: the faceplate design and especially those reconfigurable switches with the (-) markings. BMW couldn't put numbers there instead? Unfortunately, this is an industry trend.
3.Usability. The big problem here is manual tuning. If you're in preset mode, when you turn the tuning knob you get the next preset. How do you manually tune the radio, to say, set another preset? You press the switch marked "m" to toggle to manual tuning mode. Obviously, dummkopf.
Also, others have pointed out that if you're wearing polarized sunglasses, it's difficult to read the radio display -- unless you rotate your head 90 degrees.
The radio is lovingly marked "BMW Professional."
Wonder what the amateur version sounds like...
Albert Austria, Sr Vehicle Evaluation Engineer @ 13,880 mi