2008 BMW 1 Series Long Term Road Test


2008 BMW 135i: Not Much Fun for a Boring Driver

August 11, 2008

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I keep hearing from others how good our 2008 BMW 135i is, so this weekend I did my best to ignore its red-orange paint, eternally stunned expression and squishy seats. For the first 30 miles of errand-running, this was pretty easy: This car is quick. Not in an explosive, must-go-to-redline sort of way, but in an I-can't-believe-I'm-going-that-fast-because-it's-just-so-smooth kind of way.

But after I realized how easily I could make myself into the most beloved motorist on the freeway in the 135i, I got bored with it.

It doesn't ride well and feels much less refined than a 3 Series: When it hits an expansion joint, the 1 feels kind of squooshy as its springs compress, but then it rebounds more harshly than I think it should. The steering disappoints me, too. The ratio doesn't seem quick enough for the small, elfin BMW, and there's not much feel. I realize my observations contradict earlier things we've written about this car, so you should feel free to disagree with me on all points.

Now, I know I would have liked this car more if I'd been able to take it on a good back road, but that just wasn't in the cards this weekend. Instead it was 200 miles of mundane driving. I suppose that makes me a boring driver, but I think the 1 Series should have a little more of the Mini's effervescence. I can have fun with a Mini no matter what kind of driving I'm doing, but with the 1, I evidently have to get all serious about it if I want a conversation.

I get it that the 135i is meant to be a scaled-down, more affordable 3 Series, but why can't it have its own personality?

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Unrelated to this, I asked the car's computer to check the oil (after approaching the engine bay myself and feeling foolish when no dipstick was there). As you can see, the computer says the 135i is "OK," but the oil level has clearly fallen below the halfway mark.

I bought of a quart of Castrol Syntec 5W30. I added a 1/4 of a quart, drove around a bit, checked the level again and the meter hadn't budged. Then, I put in another 1/4 of a quart and still no change. Didn't want to overfill, though, so I put the remainder of the bottle in the trunk and we'll check it again tomorrow.

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As you can see, I was too cool to use a funnel and ended up slopping some oil around the cap. I tidied up with shop towels.

Erin Riches, Inside Line Senior Editor @ 6,538 miles

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