2008 BMW 1 Series Long Term Road Test


2008 BMW 135i: Learner's MT

March 16, 2009

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"Aren't you goin' out on the track?" I asked the young guy from the tire industry publication. We were at a tire event at Cal Speedway and were taking the ex-Long Beach celebrity race Celicas on the big oval at speed.

"I can't drive stick," he replied. He never had a manual transmission car and never had a chance to borrow a friend's car to learn. It's a shame, and unfortunately, this situation is much too common nowadays.

It's too bad he doesn't have access to a 135, because this is my favorite MT car to drive. The shifter is light, but positive. The clutch is also light, but with a good engagement feeling and a smooth stroke.

But where the 135 shines is the pedal arrangement, particularly the placement of the brake (B) pedal in relation to the throttle (A) pedal. For me, it's perfect: the B- and A-pedals are not only close enough laterally, but also almost on the same plane with the B-pedal depressed, so you don't have to roll your foot so much.

Some carmakers are afraid of this placement, as it can induce "unintended acceleration" from a few morons.

In most other cars, I can butcher my heel-toe downshifts. But in this car it's easy to get them near-perfect. The flexible, zingy engine doesn't hurt, either.

I should have told that tire guy to rent a 135 -- at least after he gets some shifting proficiency.
Because it's one of the best cars to practice your blipped downshifts.

At least until BMW ruins it and comes out with their own synchronized rev-match system.

Albert Austria Sr Evaluation Engineer @ 18,770 miles

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