2008 BMW 1 Series: What's It Like to Live With?
Read the latest updates in our long-term road test of the 2008 BMW 1 Series as our editors live with this car for a year.
So our 135i drives great. Flawless engine, smooth shifter, blah, blah, blah. Lets get to the real important stuff. Are you seeing that dash trim?.. Doesn’t really fit right does it? Sure, it’s on there good and tight, but clearly it was designed for another dashboard. Can’t blame BMW for reusing a few parts to keep costs down, but maybe it should have picked a piece of trim that wasn’t right in the driver’s line of sight. It looks shoddy, and when you just dropped $37K on a new coupe that’s not good.
Opting into our long-term BMW 135i for a trip to Sequoia National Park over the holiday weekend was a smart choice. Yeah, there's all the boring stuff like it's easy to park and snaps through traffic like a squirrel, but the more compelling reason is that the park's foothills offer roads from a driver's dream — switchbacks, sweepers and mercifully little traffic.
This is one well-rounded car. On the boring freeway slog, the 135i was relaxed and quick. Exploiting the quickness on the fun roads, however, revealed that these seats offer hopelessly inadequate lateral support... When I flung the 135i through the first fast turn, I may as well have been sitting on bench. The seat comfort is good, but what is this, a Buick? Don't even consider the non-Sport Package seats if you have any intention of ever driving this car hard.
I'd like the suspension to have a bit more compression travel, too, as the bumpstops got a solid whack a few times. Still, there's consistently good grip, and the steering is a delight. Seats aside, I'd choose the 135i for a trip like this again in a heartbeat.
Fuel economy for the entire trip including hooliganistic behavior worked out to 23.4 mpg.
When the BMW 135 first arrived, I had zero interest in the car. Maybe it's BMW owners, then again maybe that's just a stereotype. I'm sure they're not ALL posturing with leased 325s they can barely afford while living in a small rented apartment on the very edge of the trendy part of town. Surely some BMW owners have a real love for the purity of their cars...
And that's where the 135 comes in. At first, I couldn't imagine wanting, owning or even driving a car that' smaller than a 3 series. I may have even said out loud "what's the point?" Then I drove it - there is something so perfect about the 135i - the shifter, the engine, the clutch, the ride and it even has a nice clean look inside along with a very good stereo. Honestly, the 1 series may be the perfect sports coupe - it may even be the perfect car. Small, light, quick and fun - I stand corrected.
Sorry, I don't think this is ugly. Is it a 3.0 CS or 507? No. Certainly not ugly though...
Let's define our terms - this is ugly.
How does the all-new 2008 BMW 1 Series handle 2+2 duty? Depends on the size of the "+2," but if they are over 5-feet tall it probably won't work unles the "2" are under 5-and-a-half feet tall.
With me (6'0") and my wife (5'4") in the front seats, my daughter (4'2") fit behind me and my son (4'8") fit behind my wife — but only just. The entry/exit process was aided not only by the easy, flip-forward seatback release but by the power-slide button located at the top of the seatback.
My nine-year-old son didn't skip a beat when he first got into the passenger side of our long-term 135i. First he pushed the slide button to move the seat forward, then he pulled the relase lever; no direction from me required.
So right now, today, the 1 Series would be a viable family car for my family.
Another six months? Ummm...
Once again, my quarter-mile commute turns into a trivial observation about our 135i. This time the odd-looking little BMW gets a pat on the back for showing some restraint.
Turns out, when you put anything of significant weight on the passenger seat, the airbag sensor assumes it's a person. So, of course, when I fail to buckle up my computer bag it lights up the dashboard warning along with a pleasant chime...
Well, pleasant for the first ten seconds, then it becomes annoying. On most cars it continues on endlessly until you push your bag onto the floor out of frustration.
Not so, on the 1 Series. The warnings actually stop after a brief period of time. Those Germans actually take into consideration that you might have a brain, one that would take into account the 30 seconds of chimes and multiple dashboard lights. In other words, if you don't want to put your seat belt, it's not their problem. It's nice to know the nannies have yet to infiltrate Munich.
With over 3,000 miles on the odometer, it's high time for a mileage update on our BMW 135i. I'll confess to not paying much attention to efficiency when it comes to driving the 300hp coupe. For most of this weekend, if the road was open, the big pedal was down.
And the result?..
A paltry 17.1mpg. Not good, especially when the local Union 76 station is charging $5.09 for a gallon of premium.
So far, the car's overall average is a slightly more respectable 20.2mpg. Still not good, but when you consider that it will go from 0-to-60 mph in 5.0-seconds flat and run low-13s in the quarter mile, the 135i isn't too shabby on gas.
What you see here is the passenger side end of the trim piece that Ed mentioned in a recent post about the 135i. It's a little too long at one end and a little too short on the other. Hmm, not great. But still, the kooky little coupe is a ton of fun to drive, and I can't see this end of the dash from the driver seat.
That's what I'm talking about. The last couple of days and nights in the 2008 BMW 135i reminded me of why I loved this car so much the last go 'round. Excellent steering and handling, mega brakes and that 300 hp (at least) twin-turbo engine in a compact body — it's just the way I like 'em.
A six-speed shift-it-yourself gearbox is great on mountain roads, but any manual just has to suck in rush hour traffic, right?.. Wrong. An impressively broad and table-flat torque curve pulls from way down low — about 1500 rpm — making frequent downshifting during my LA freeway commute largely unnecessary. And any gaps I see in traffic are mine, I tell you.
This is one sweet, inconspicuous ride. And it's still enjoyable when sentenced to a lousy 50-mile commute like mine. Sure, the 135i costs a bit if you get insane with the options sheet, but the level of refinement and detail, not to mention raw speed, make this one pretty damn desireable. I wonder if enough of the goodness remains in the more economical 128i to make that a winning proposition?
I recently read a study about why people find certain things (and other people) attractive - buildings, art, or the opposite sex symmetry is the key. That could explain why some aren't loving the 135's looks. From some angles it does appear like they took the greenhouse from a larger coupe and stuck it on the lower body of a small roadster. The roof can seem too tall...
Frankly, I'd rather be comfortable than look cool so I'm happy w/ the styling compromise that makes plenty of room for my asymmetrical head.
Now THAT'S a lot of motor
More and more cars are making dizzying power numbers these days, yet few stand out in my mind as being really eye-openingly fast. Our long-term BMW 135i is one of those few. I hadn't really put it the car through its paces until last night, when I snagged the keys and headed for the canyons. Quite simply, this is a lot of motor for such a diminutive car...
Sounds great too — the exhaust note is throaty yet refined, encouraging windows-down throttle-blipping at every opportunity. Notably, there's no discernable turbo whistle or any other audible indication that you're driving a turbocharged car. There's just the typical inline-6 smoothness that you'd find in a 128i, along with an absolute truckload of torque from just off idle. I think I like this motor more every time I experience it.
Incidentally, an interesting 135i-vs.-STI debate has been raging over at Erin's recent STI post. Here's two cents from my bully pulpit. If you need a fifth seat, or all-wheel drive, or the ability to haul a bunch of stuff, then the STI is the no-brainer choice. But if you don't, consider the following: (1) though the STI's rated at 305 hp, you don't really get that heady turbo rush until about 3,000-3,500 rpm, whereas the 135i offers stupid stonk speed on demand; (2) in tight corners the 135i is frankly in a different league due to its relative lack of body roll and superior (if not quite E46 M3-like) steering feel; and (3) the 135i's clutch and shifter are a joy to operate, unlike the STI's (see Erin's opinion in her post, which I share).
I noticed this little detail on our 135i over the weekend. Kinda cool. A nice addition on the first model year of a car this unique.
What's more, our 135i has recorded an even 19.0 miles per gallon since Ed Hellwig's last post on the subject at 3,837 miles. This is a significant decrease in fuel economy, but is probably more realistic than the 20.2 mpg the car had earned up to that point.
Anyhow, this little Bavarian rocket truly is special. I drove it over Angeles Crest Highway one night last week and was able to appreciate its abilities on many levels. A few observations: 1) It has excellent headlights. Never once did I wish for more reach or coverage. With the high beams on I could comfortably see far enough to keep up with my rapid pace. 2) The handling difference between this car and a 335i is significant enough to matter. If you're considering the 1 and don't need the 3's additional space, don't bother spending the money. 3) The looks are growing on me. I'll never love the details, but the proportions are right.
It seems that every single blog comment section regarding our long-term BMW 135i devolves into "It's ugly, those headlights look goofy, the grille's too big, the rocker panel is strange, it looks like a bowler hat." Even around the office, every time I say I like the 135i, a certain contingent pops over their cubicle wall (cough, SadButTrue, cough) to remind me that it's ugly.
Well I don't give a flying Fletch. Sure, it's far from one of the best-looking cars in the world , but when something is this wonderfully fun and athletic with tiny proportions that nevertheless fits me perfectly, it could look like, well, the 135i and I would never kick it out of my garage. Which got me to thinking about Audrina Patridge . I have no idea what she does and I've never heard her speak (probably for the best), but I've seen pictures. When someone is that wonderfully fit and athletic with tiny proportions, she could look like, well, Audrina Patridge and I would never kick her out of my be...nnigans.
Huh, did you just say butterface? I certainly didn't, but that seems like an apt descriptor for the 135i. "Everything's excellent, but its face..."
Another California road trip , another Pea Soup Anderson's (the Buellton location), but this time, we left the kid with her grandparents and grabbed the keys to the long-term BMW 135i. Heading to the wine country of Santa Barbara county (about a 3-hour drive) for a vineyard wedding allowed us the opportunity to try out the 1-Series' road trip capabilities.
As expected, the 135i was stupid-fun to drive, even in the stop-and-go Saturday morning traffic that we experienced for most of the drive out there. Seat comfort was good, though lumbar support in the driver seat would have been appreciated, and neither my husband nor I attempted to nap on such a short trip, so we can't speak to the merits of the power seats for longer trips.
And I know I'll get blasted for complaining about cupholders in this car, but here I go: they're too small and their placement causes any drink that's put there to get in my arm's way when I'm working the shifter. We resorted to storing our tightly closed bottles of water on their sides in the center storage area of the back seat instead. In the grand scheme of all things 135, not a huge problem, especially when you've got someone riding shotgun who can act as "water monkey," and I certainly don't expect this to be a deal-breaker for anyone considering buying the 1 Series, but it's an inconvenience, nonetheless.
In addition to a couple of other Edmunds folks, I also drove up north this past weekend for the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance and Monterey Historics (and I thoroughly adored this car's powertrain while ticking off the miles). On Friday night I attended the annual Lexus fashion show, followed by the Gooding auction preview. Afterward, as I pulled out of my parking spot on a grassy hill, I heard a popping sound akin to a breaking twig. A few seconds later, the tire pressure warning lights went on.
I thought maybe I'd gotten a puncture, but when I got out to take a look, nothing seemed to be damaged.I drove back cautiously to my hotel and went online to find the nearest BMW dealership. Fortunately, I was able to make an appointment online for the next morning at BMW of Monterey, which was only a few miles away.
The next morning, the car seemed to be driving okay, but the lights were still on. I dropped it off at the dealership and headed off with a friend to the races at Laguna Seca. When I returned, the service adviser told me that they couldn't find any punctures, but the tire pressure was unusually low. And - this part was a bit baffling - when they ran the key data, it looked like the computer system hadn't been reset for the tire pressure monitor before we took delivery of the car. But all was corrected and we were ready to roll again.
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.
Here's a detail that matters. Something as simple as an exhaust tip can make or break a car's appearance. This is a shot of the exhaust tips on our 135i. Notice that they're dark. And it's not because they're dirty. No, it's because BMW uses an anthracite-colored coating which makes them always look the same — whether they're clean, covered in road grime or exhaust soot. They look good. Always.
It's not where you might think it is. The battery is actually in the trunk, mounted in a deep well covered by a lift-up panel. The 135i has run-flat tires, so there's no spare, jack or inflation kit.
I can't write a title of "Poor Man's M3" because at $37,145 our 135i isn't exactly affordable. Still, for about half the price of a new M3, you're getting a larger percentage of the M3's renowned traits — namely, the engaging handling and steering, a potent engine and enough refinement and room to make it a viable daily driver.
I drove our 135i last week on the same curving mountain road I've used recently to test out our long-term Lancer Evolution and Impreza WRX STI. Of these three near-$40K 300-hp machines, the BMW was by far the most enjoyable to drive.
Holy cats, does the 135i show you a good time. It added some real spice to a vanilla weekend spent running vanilla errands and driving to vanilla places like Burbank to connect with friends.
Thanks to our compact Bimmer, that drive to Burbank was actually one of the high points of my weekend. Said drive was some 21.39 miles. Most of the journey was comprised of freeway travel, and since I left home early Saturday morning, the city's arteries were uncharacteristically unclogged. That, of course, meant that I got to really enjoy the 135i's 300-horsepower twin turbo. The little car soared like an uncaged bird, and I was happy to be along for the ride.
But the rough roads in my 'hood brought the 135i back to earth. Its run-flat tires absorbed minor surface irregularities, but deeper pavement pockmarks were received in a significantly less favorable light. There's one jumbo pothole in particular — more like a lake bed, really — that's impossible to avoid, since it's on the street that leads to my apartment building. It's bearable in cars with regular tires, but in the 135i... ouch. Every time I traveled over it, I got a jolt that surely shifted the location of an internal organ or two.
All in all, though, this is one fun ride. More, please.
A few months back, Dan mentioned the 135i's brake dust in his post titled "It's not all wonderful."
I'm not so sure. Though the baby Bimmer does make a hell of a lot of the stuff (this is a one-week accumulation) it also happens to stop from 60 mph in 109 feet. And it has a rock-solid pedal stop after stop. I've now hammered this little coupe over the Angeles Forest and Angeles Crest Highways twice and am yet to have anything but confidence in its stoppers.
Six pistons. Amen.
I haven't had the opportunity to drive our 135i very much so when it was offered to me for a weekend road trip I jumped at the chance to put a few miles on one of our most popular cars.
It's well documented how much we like our baby BMW, and it's hard to find anything but good things to say about it; but rather than writing about all the great things that 135i has to offer I decided (before I drove it) that I would try to find something I didn't like. To my surprise that something became obvious to me within the first 10 or 15 minutes of my commute home on Friday.
While sitting on the 10 envying the motorcyclists who were able to breeze through traffic, I realized that as a bike approached the rear of the car they disappeared for a moment before reappearing in my side mirror. The combination of the rear pillar and rear seat head rest creates a blind spot just big enough to completely hide a motorcyclist. Throughout the weekend I was constantly trying to tweak my mirror positions to try to minimize the blind spot, but no matter what I did there was always a blind spot just the right size for a motorcycle. The only solution I could come up with was to vary my speed slightly just before changing lanes in order to make sure I wasn't about to run over one of my two wheeled friends.
I drove our 135i for the first time this past weekend. I've heard a lot of positive things about this car, mostly about its engine.
Thankfully, I had brushed up a little bit on the specs of the car before I left the office for the weekend because the two times I went to the grocery store there were guys gathered 'round the car taking a closer look when I came back out.
I got a lot of the kinds of questions you'd expect. Is this the turbo? Is this the new 1 Series? Is it fast? How much horsepower does it have?
Yes, it's all those those things (and 300 horses), but honestly I had a tough time with the shifter. I'm not as skilled a driver as other folks here on staff, but I found it wasn't fast throing and that I sometimes jammed it between gates. Maybe I was having an off weekend, but I was less than thrilled with that shifter.
Would I consider buying one? Buddy... Three-hundo and a turbo? Wouldn't you?
Jacobs wasn't kidding when he said that the 1 Series still attracts attention. Just the other day I stopped to hit an ATM and as I was returning to the car I noticed a big work truck from a concrete cutting company pulled up next to it. The grizzled old guy in the passenger seat took a long look and gave it a thumbs up. Probably not the crowd BMW was aiming for, but hey a compliment is a compliment.
Then just this morning, I stopped to grab a cup of coffee at the local donut shop. As I was coming out there were two older guys, maybe early 70s or so checking it out. They asked me all the usual questions about the engine and price. Then one of them said, "I would definitely buy that car, neat stuff," before driving away in his Boxster.
And me? Not into the styling, but I can't argue with the way it drives.
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...
This morning, during a torrential rain storm, I decided to check the oil on our long-term 2008 BMW 135i. Took me about 10 seconds, and I didn't even need my galoshes.
Sometimes, modern technology is hard to argue with.
Recently we used our long-term 2008 BMW 135i in a hard fought comparison test against the new Nissan 370Z. At first it seemed like a crazy idea. You know, a four-seat, turbocharged BMW vs. a two-seat, normally aspirated Nissan.
But the more we thought about it, the more it made sense. Perfect sense. Their prices, performance and reason for being are actually very similar, and our two-car shootout, BMW 135i vs. Nissan 370Z, turned out to be a good fight between two great cars.
Which would you choose?
It's been one of the colder winters in recent memory here in Los Angeles, with temperatures dropping as low as the 30s. For the most part, the 135i has been up for the challenge. The car's HVAC system did an excellent job keeping the cabin warm and toasty over the chilly holidays. Still, heated seats would have been nice, considering this Bimmer's not-insignificant price tag.
In other news, the car continues to attract attention here in L.A. — no doubt due to the fact that there just don't seem to be a whole lot of them on the roads. Most onlookers respond favorably to the 135i, but not all. One snob in a 3 Series slowly pulled up next to me as I waited to make a left turn, checking out the car's sheet metal with a condescending sneer. Guess for some people, 1's a whole lot less than 3. But those people have obviously never driven our 135i — I couldn't have asked for a more exciting companion over the holidays.
I was driving through the Hollywood Hills to a party that was located at the end of one of those twisty roads when I noticed that our little 2008 BMW 135i was doing an extra good job of lighting up the way. Finally on a straight stretch of road I was able to test out why by turning the steering wheel back and forth. It had cornering lights that moved back and forth like high-beam eyeballs! Neato!
Apparently xenon adaptive headlights with auto-leveling and cornering lights are standard equipment. I was just surprised that it had this feature, which seems luxurious to me, considering our $37,145 coupe does not come with seat heaters or even a little light that turns on when you flip open the visor mirror. I don't know which I'd appreciate more in the long run: cornering lights or seat heaters. Hmmm.
Nothing makes me relish a Friday more than opening up the sunroof to soak in the warm and beautiful weather. And it's January! January! It's gorgeous outside. Sigh, I love sunroofs. Now if only this car had seat heaters, too. Heh.
I'm in love with the BMW 135i. Maybe not our 135i — it's far too red and I hate the tan interior with its '70s shade of wood trim. I'd have the manual seats too. But aside from that, I love this car. Everything related to the driving experience is exactly how I like it. The small dimensions make it feel more like driving a sports car — more Z4 than 3 Series — but it's quiet and offers a comfortable ride. True, it's not supple, but I don't want supple and I never found it harsh during the extensive driving I did this weekend between Orange and Ventura counties. The engine provides tremendous thrust, but it's also civilized in terms of throttle response and noise. The steering is tactile and light, and its wheel falls exactly how I like it thanks to an excellent, tall-friendly driving position (and that's with the less-adjustable power seats). The pedals are also perfectly placed and the clutch/shifter is without fault.
If I were to buy a car today, I would buy this car that I so dearly love. But then Associate Editor Josh Sadlier had to describe the 135 as "monumentally ugly," comparing it to a pot-belly pig and lamenting hard-touch materials. He's "just not interested," he so coldly said. I just couldn't let that stand. How dare that lobster-eating Maine-dweller impugn my love in such a way. So I crawled over our cubicle divider and popped him. That's right, cold-cocked him I did. Of course, he then jumped up and flashed some fancy jujitsu moves he picked up in Japan. I quickly ran away.
Anyway, even if Sadlier had a point about the styling, I couldn't possibly care less. That's called unconditional love.
Way back before the gas crisis, the housing crisis and the credit crisis, we did a comparison test between a new BMW 135i (very much like our long term BMW 135i), a new BMW 335i and our newly aquired long-term 2002 BMW M3 E46. The idea was simple. Where is your money best spent on a BMW hot rod coupe? And it played out like this:
335i: Great in every way, but unnecessarily expensive.
135i: Almost great in every way, the quickest of the bunch, but still unnecessarily expensive.
E46 M3: Still great where it counts, fast, although the slowest of the three. Also the cheapest by a bunch. Best looking too. And the most viceral. We have a winner.
Well, I just spent some time in our E46 and I just spent a night in our 135i. As much as I'm a lover of both, I would spend the extra bucks a month and buy a 335i sedan. Turns out I don't think it's unnecessarily expensive. For the extra cash you get the best drivetrain, the most refinement and the best interior. I also prefer the suspension tuning and directional stability of the 335i, even with the sport package, which I would hope to afford. The 135i is bit all over the place on the highway and it rides a bit choppy for my taste.
Still, the 135i is my second choice. Some lowering springs and a set of deep dish wheels to set it off and I'd be happy for a long time. Choppy ride and all.
And then there's our E46. It's a car I lust after. And owning one would be a privilege. However, I'm taken by the awesome refinement, the subtle tuning excellence and the turbocharged thrust of the new cars.
What do you think?
I've never really cared for the manual transmission in any BMW. Mainly, I find their action too light. But I also dislike the spring-loaded feel when moving it out of gear, and the general soggyness and excessive play once the shift lever is in gear. To be fair (and I've always kept this at the back of my mind) the only Bimmers I've driven heretofore were knackered old Bavarias, salvage titled M3s, and various and generally worn out 3-Series'. And don't get me started about the shift action in our 2002 M3; think about moving around a dislocated cadaver's elbow. Go on, think about it.
So when I got the chance to drive our six speed 2008 BMW 135i, I decided to put aside my past experiences and give this new, non-beat to Hades gearbox a try. And guess what? I really don't like it. The action is too light, and I don't like the way it wants to spring out of a gate and into neutral. But what I really don't like is the combination of a short, almost cut down, gear lever and that center armrest. As you can kinda see in the above picture, going from any of the bottom gears (two, four or six) into another gear requires you to more of less underhand the shifter. I find it uncomfortable and annoying to bend my wrist down with every other shift. A taller shift lever to match the height of the center armrest would solve that problem. But I still couldn't live with the action of the shift lever.
So would it keep me from buying the car? It's not the only one, but it's a big reason I wouldn't buy one of these.
Our long-term BMW 135i is starting to stretch its legs. Though it's just ticked over the 18,000-mile mark, it finally feels as if this twin-turbocharged mill is breaking in. Many of us were wondering if this would ever happen, as BMW has done such a remarkable job of refinement in this force fed mill that it almost feels too civilized. Now past the 18K mark, the baby Beemer is finally starting to loosen up.
We'll have to wait and see if updated performance numbers back it up, but this little terror of a coupe seems to be exhibiting some sweet, newly found mid-range snarl. Nuttier still, it actually almost feels slightly turbocharged. The sweet 3.0-liter twin turbo inline-6 still has an incredibly linear powerband, but as if maturing slightly with age, there seems to be more urgency to its thrust, and a slight crackle to its exhaust note. This only adds to what is quickly becoming one of my favorite BMW's ever. A silken 300-horsepower engine powering the rear wheels with minimal body work for four seats and sharp steering? Your license may be in jeopardy...
Shift action on the six-speed manual tranny is still disappointing compared to rifle-bolt Hondas (and even compared to likely rose-colored memories of the E36 M3), but this shifter doesn't get in the way of driving fun. I'd opt for the sport seats, but otherwise, the 135i is pure grins, and slowly starting to gain some edge. Maybe today's ultra-tight engine tolerances and finer quality engine oils are extending break-in, but has anyone else seen slowly emerging BMW powerplants?
You don't necessarily buy a compact performance coupe based on its ability to handle mundane chores like toting luggage. Still, I got the chance to see how the 135i fares in this respect over the weekend, when it was tasked with hauling home some newly acquired baggage (not the emotional kind).
The 1 Series has 10 cubes in back. That's more than the 370Z (6.9 cubes), the same as the Genesis coupe and less than the Audi TT (13.1cubic feet). At the end of the day, 10 cubes was more than enough to swallow my brand-new 27-inch suitcase and 20-inch carry-on.
An unfair test of a car's back seat is having a 6-foot-3 editor such as myself set his seat then attempt to sit "behind himself." While I can often technically fit, it's usually the type of fit on par with John Goodman in a Power Rangers unitard. OK, so that was hyperbolic, but you get the idea. I'd usually have to scoot the seat forward in order to allow myself to comfortably be seated in the caboose.
The above picture is the result of sitting behind myself in the BMW 135i. Lo and behold, I fit. Sure, my legs are straddling the driver seat and my head is cocked forward like a jockey to avoid the roof, but that's a technical fit. (I'd apologize for the picture not showing head room, but you try taking a picture by yourself in the back seat of a tiny BMW). If I were really to be sitting behind me, I could scooch the driver seat forward and still be reasonably comfortable driving. That wouldn't be the case in a Mini Cooper. Head room in the 1 would always be an issue, but it's much better than an Infiniti G37 or Hyundai Genesis Coupe, which is useless even for folks much shorter than I. Finally, both leg and head room in the 1's back seat are way better than in the 370Z.
Obviously, the 135's aft quarters are not meant for four-person long hauls. However, for those rare times when I would need the back seat (especially for average-sized people), this baby Bimmer would be more practical than most sport coupes.
What do you want to know about the BMW 135i?
Here's your chance to ask questions or write your own review in the comments section. Have at it.
I had a free afternoon yesterday, and I looked at our 2008 BMW 135i coupe in my carport and decided a drive was in order. We went to Little Tujunga Canyon Road , a favorite of mine because of its convenient location and pretty even mix of fast sweepers and tighter turns.
We've written before that the 135i is an easy car to drive quickly because it is so benign — perhaps the most benign of any rear-wheel-drive car currently on sale in the U.S. Slow down on your entry to counteract the understeer; then, exploit all that torque (300 lb-ft from as low as 1,400 rpm) on your exit. Find your rhythm, know your road and you'll be fast. And safe.
I love the steering feel in this car. You never have any doubts about front tire grip.
And I love the driving position: It's not sexy; I'm not going to see the curves and contours of the car as I do in our 370Z or a G37. Really, I might as well be sitting in a sedan when I'm in our One. All I see is a flat hood, and I jack the seat way up so I'm sitting high. But I don't care. The steering wheel fits perfectly in my hands, and flat and squooshy as the driver seat is, it orients me perfectly for steering, shifting and working the pedals.
Other than the sneaking suspicion that this car doesn't need me (with all that torque, it barely even needs me to shift), the one complaint that came up during the drive is the 135i's lack of a limited-slip rear differential. Mind you, I probably could live without one if I owned this car. But, occasionally, when the rear tires had trouble getting the power down on exit, I thought about driving the Genesis Coupe 3.8 and wished the One had a torsen limited-slip, too.
Our 135i just turned 20K and it's doing quite well thank you. In fact, it's been one of our most trouble free cars over the last year, a virtual 300-horsepower Honda Accord with real tires.
It's only been in the shop twice. The first trip was for scheduled maintenance and the second was to replace the original rubber that Erin tore to pieces at a local track day.
Even with its light colored interior, the 135i is wearing well. The seats look good, the dash isn't scratched or fading and the carpet looks respectable. Sure, it was not a cheap car to begin with, but it's not giving us any reason to believe that it's not worth the price.
It's easy to lay into the BMW 135i for its price tag: As equipped , our 2008 BMW 135i coupe cost $37,145. But these adaptive, bi-xenon headlights are standard on the 135i, and as I learned on Saturday night, they work very well.
That afternoon a friend (with a modified WRX) and I caravaned to Yerba Buena Road north of Malibu and took our cars through some corners. Yerba Buena is a rough road, but the 1 Series has plenty of suspension travel and managed fine over the ruts, remaining composed and compliant. It's hard not to notice the car's safety-minded predisposition toward understeer, but between its small footprint, sharp steering and gargantuan torque, it was still very fun on this narrow road.
We then parked the cars and hiked 1.5 miles up to Sandstone Peak, oooh and aahhing at the panomamic ocean/mountain vista upon reaching the top. Unfortunately, we turned down the wrong trail on our descent and had to do almost 2 miles of backtracking, using our cell phones to light our path. When we got back to the parking lot (shown above), we were tired, hungry and cold.
But the day wasn't over. With the BMW 135i lighting the way down Yerba Buena back to the coast, there was more driving fun to be had. With the high beams on (low beams shown above), I could see through most of the corners and we kept a decent pace on the way down.
Yes, the picture isn't a close-up of the right-hand sideview mirror, but I felt it was a little more interesting. It was taken on Las Posas road in Camarillo, which is about 60 miles north of L.A., just off the PCH. Blue sky, open road and a twin-turbocharged Bimmer. It was a good day. Well, except for that mirror.
The mirror seemed to have a mind of its own. It has that handy "parking mode" which is when the mirror automatically dips down to show the curb when the transmission is placed in reverse. Saves you from flicking the switch yourself and thus makes parallel parking a little easier. Anyhoo, after you shift out of reverse, it goes back up to its preset position. But a couple of times, it changed its mind and moved back down after I had pulled away from the parking spot. I saw it happen a few times, as did my girlfriend. So no, I'm not losing my mind.
I checked to see if there were any recalls or service bulletins on this, but found none. We'll keep tabs on it and have it checked out at the One's next service.
As a single guy who loves small rear-drive performance cars, I should be totally smitten by our longterm 2008 BMW 135i. Yet the 135i doesn't haunt my dreams. In a way, I'm in a similar boat as my colleague Mr Sadlier is with the 370Z.
Not that the 135i isn't enjoyable to drive. On the contrary, it is a fine car. It rides well, is plenty quick and has a big dose of refinement in the way it takes to the road. The engine is flat-out sensational in just about every way you could conceivably ask for. Maybe the interior doesn't offer the last word in gadgetry, but that's not what I'm after. The seats in our long-termer do suck, though, as you're already well aware.
In analyzing my indifference, I've finally settled on this well-rounded docility as the source. 300hp in a car this small? On paper the 135i should be a cold-blooded assasin. It should be the performance car to take on all performance cars. A hooligan's delight. A rabid wolf in a droopy clown costume. You get the idea.
Instead, this small car is accessible and has the comport of a larger car. To BMW's credit, this no doubt helps with appealing to the masses. But there's another reason they're keeping the 135i meek. Fully exploiting the potential of what they hath wrought with the 135i would tread on the territory of the 335i and possibly the M3 too.
I can't deny that this is probably smart business sense. But whenever I drive the 135i, I think about what might have been.
As good as our longterm 2008 BMW 135i's twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six engine is — and it is undoubtedly good — there are people out there that think it can be made even better.
We recently crossed paths with Scott Barbour of DME Tune, a purveyor of BMW go-fast tuning solutions. In fact, tuning BMWs is all the company does.
After a brief chat, it became obvious that DME Tune is serious about doing it right. Company principals include Jim Conforti, a well-known name among BMW performance tuning, and Scott Barbour of Harman Motive tuning fame. An example of their anality is that they use a $1300 battery charger while reflashing, just to ensure the voltage stays absolutely stable.
Shortly thereafter, we decided to take the plunge and have DME Tune reflash our little 135i to give it some more punch.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. Some background first. Click the jump to learn more.
Who: DME Tune is a Los Angeles-based company specializing in extracting more performance from the 335i, 135i and, well, any BMW with the turbocharged N54 engine.
Jim Conforti creates the DME Tune calibrations. Scott Barbour handles the front end customer interface.
What: DME Tune's approach to increased performance is to reflash the car's engine control unit with a revised calibration that dials up the boost a bit, re-maps the ignition timing and fueling strategies, tweaks the cam timing and more.
There are no additional pieces of hardware to install on the vehicle.
Why: Increased performance, of course. In addition, DME Tune's reflash is said to be completely invisible to the dealer and will not trigger fault codes.
How: Today, their process goes like this — you bring your car to them, go out for a sandwich, and 30 minutes later your car is ready.
This approach obviously has limitations if you live beyond driving distance of them. The company is aware of this potentially inconvenient situation and plans to address it in the near future.
So what's it like? Is it fast? Are there any downsides? How much power does it make? Can a reflash make the 135i less ugly?
One thing at a time. We'll have answers to at least some of these questions in the coming days. Don't go far.
You can tell the 135 is different now from the first time you roll into the throttle. It's no lounder, and the revs don't raise any quicker, but it takes fewer revs to get the clutch out smooth from a stop. And then once it's rolling the differences are even more apparent.
I can't speak for the full-throttle gains before and after the new tune as I was driving on public roads, but even in those highly limited scenarios, the DME reflash proved its worth. There's a whole new midrange. There's no turbo lag, there's just a powerful surge that doesn't stop 'till you let off the gas. Why they didn't do this from the factory is beyond me. It's as driveable as it ever was before except now there's more power everywhere. Not like the GSR with unreasonable power surprising you somewhere north of 5-grand, the 135 is smooth and linear instead of peaky. It hasn't reinvented the nature of the 135i, just brought it out into the light a bit more.
If I had a 135 and didn't want to go whole-hog with a plug-in tuner, I'd get this on day-one and just consider it part of the cost of purchase. Again, it should've — and could have — come from the factory this way.
Fortunately for us, our office is literally minutes away from DME Tune. Scott hooked up said Versace-class battery charger and a magic reflashing box to our longterm 2008 BMW 135i and we split for grub.
Over a bowl of steaming pho at the local Vietnamese joint, Scott described the company's tuning philosophy. In a nutshell, they have examined various aspects of the engine and settled on a few states of tune that they reckon provide meaningful power increases while maintaining healthy safety margins. And by employing a reflashing strategy, they have access to virtually every operational parameter of the engine which gives them full control over the changes they make.
He continued by explaining that our 135i is receiving his Stage 2 reflash. This is, apparently, one better than Stage 1. The price for either flash is $649.
More specifically, Stage 2 can be used on turbocharged N54 BMWs equipped with, at a minimum, the factory oil cooler. And our 135i has one. If you want to see if yours does, take a peek in the passenger side wheel well. If you see a heat exchanger lurking behind slots in the plastic liner, you just found the oil cooler.
When we returned to the car, the process was complete. We were back on the road minutes later and giving the spurs to our homely little German coupe.
We'll have driving impressions and performance test results for you shortly. So keep your ears on, fine IL blog readers.
(this photo doesn't have anything to do with the words below; I just dig the image)
Before and after. That's how we test the cars in our longterm fleet. We test them when they first arrive, and then we re-test after we've driven them for about a year.
As our longterm 2008 BMW 135i is nearing the end of its stay with us, a few weeks ago we performed the "after" testing. Our 135i produced the following acceleration performance after its year with us:
Stock 0-60 — 5.1 seconds (4.8 seconds with one foot of rollout like on a drag strip)
Stock 1/4 mile — 13.4 seconds at 103.4 mph
Even more recently, we had DME Tune reflash our 135i. Do the nature of the space-time continuum, we had to test it at an even later date. We would have preferred to test both configurations (stock vs reflash) on the same day but Einstein frowns upon universe tinkering.
Click the jump to see the result of the DME Tune reflash.
DME Tune 0-60 — 4.9 seconds (4.6 seconds with one foot of rollout like on a drag strip)
DME Tune 1/4 mile — 13.2 seconds at 105.1 mph
Thus, the reflash sliced 0.2 seconds off its acceleration time and bumped up the trap speed by almost 2 mph.
Not bad, but it sure feels a lot quicker than those results indicate. Indeed, the midrange punch of the DME Tune reflash is substantial.
When we're running through the gears during an acceleration run, though, we only see the midrange once. In every gear outside of first gear, the engine is operating around peak power and redline.
It could be that the DME Tune reflash is relatively conservative at higher engine speeds relative to what it delivers at lower engine speeds. Just a guess.
The following is the actual text message I sent to Mike Magrath upon arriving home from work Friday afternoon:
1:47PM Fri, May 22
Thoughts on new 1 engine: weeeeeeeee!
I've never been a big fan of modifications. They usually result in offensive noise, back-breaking rides, unrefined neck-snapping acceleration and horrendously tacky body modifications. Other than the latter, it's the reason I've never driven our long-term GSR home. Call me a wimp and there certainly are folks who do the job right, but in general, no thank you.
The DME Tune Reflash of our 135i, on the other hand, is a modification I can get behind. As Jay noted yesterday, the reflash had a relatively minor effect on straight-line acceleration times but its added midrange punch makes it feel faster. Get above around 3,500 rpm and the twin-turbo-6 blasts forward with giggle-inducing thrust — it makes the biggest difference on the freeway. The 135i was always faster than you expected it to be, but now it's been turned up to 11.
Best of all, the 135i remains livable. When casually accelerating in the muck of city traffic, it remains the same pleasant car it always has been. There's no neck-snapping throttle response or crazy turbo lag. It feels very natural, as if no Frankensteining had been performed.
Not that this is scientific in any way, but our first tank post-reflash returned 17.62 mpg.
So call me a fan of the reflash. It makes BMW's 35 engine even sweeter.
Okay, so the 128i ragtop in our Edmunds.com Convertible Comparison Test technically represents year two of the 1, being a 2009 model and all. But it is the 135i's little brother, and it does take on a 2009 Mini Cooper S Convertible in the aforesaid top-down smackdown. Give it a read, and check out the full track numbers over at Straightline, and tell us what you think.
Being the guy who shepherded our longterm 2008 BMW 135i to and from DME Tune, the test track and all over southern California, I've spun up quite a few digits on the odometer in its newly invigorated state. And here my impressions.
The first thing I noticed immediately after DME Tune reflashed it is that driveability around town is actually better than stock. In these off-boost conditions, the 135i now accelerates more brightly, as if it just downed a half-serving of espresso. Miata guys would describe this as "crisp."
Then, when you lay fully into the throttle, the 135i pulls with a vigor that in no way can be mistaken for stock. There's loads of midrange grunt on tap, and the redline comes up right quick. And as other editors have noted, there is indeed no downside to the way this thing now drives — it's all gravy and no lumps.
An observation: the oil temperature gauges now stabilizes at about 10-20 degrees cooler than it did with the stock flash. Could it be that the DME Flash also includes tweaks to the (electronically controlled) thermostat?
Also, I'm convinced that the performance test results we measured for the reflash don't fully represent what this car can do. The reason? It was about 20 degrees hotter when we tested the reflash.
Now, we don't weather-correct turbocharged cars since they largely compensate for ambient conditions. However, when you modify a boosted car, you eat up a bit of this ability to compensate. I'd really like to re-test in in weather conditions that more closely match the test conditions of the stock flash for a more apples-to-apples comparison.
Hmm. With the variables associated with acceleration testing, maybe we just need to suck it up and do a full-on dyno geek-out comparison of stock vs reflashed.
That's a lot of work, though. And I'm busy enjoying this 135i.
Can somebody please explain to me how the big brains at BMW can do suspension, steering and brakes so well and still screw up something as simple as a useful cupholder.
Hard to believe, isn't it? The same company that designed and built the astonishingly good turbocharged inline six cylinder engine in our long-term 2008 BMW 135i also created the stupidity above.
How the hell does that happen?
I learned to drive in my dad's 1979 528i. It was a great car that he drove for nearly 16 years. After driving the 135i last night, I realized that it has the exact same pedal setup as the ol' 528.
And I don't mean they're in the same place or look sort of similar, they're exactly the same right down to the crosshatch pattern on the brake and clutch.
So unlike most manufacturers who make changes to their cars just for the sake of change, when BMW finds something that works it sticks with it. Smart move.
Big "hell, yes" for reflashing. The 135i now feels pleasantly wired when driven around town. Eager — champing at the bit and all that. I couldn't keep my hands off it over the weekend, and it reveled in the attention.
The little Bimmer was on fire this weekend — it even got a couple of compliments regarding its appearance. When it comes to its sheet metal, the 135i has had its share of detractors here on our staff. Based on my experience, though, John Q. Public seems to like the look of it just fine.
I got back to the office pretty late after a photo shoot and I was beat. All I wanted to do was go home, watch the game highlights and go to sleep. Our 135i was waiting for me in the parking garage and I slowly moseyed down to it after dropping off all of my gear.
That BMW gave me a quick jolt to wake me up, however. When I pushed the start button it turned and turned and turned like it wouldn't fire up.
"Crap!" I thought to myself. "If this thing doesn't start I'll have to walk home!"
The second my finger was near the panic button it sprang to life. Thanks be to the car gods. I was relieved I didn't have to walk home after the monster day I had.
A few days ago I heard Oldham complaining about the steering feel in the 750i. He said it felt too artificial, too light and just plain screwed up.
I thought for sure he was nuts. Every time I drove the big 7 it felt fine to me. A little light maybe, but not anywhere near as awful as Oldham was making it out to be. Then I got in the 1 Series last night and before I had even left the parking garage I knew what he was talking about.
The steering is the 135i is dead on. Sure, it feels a tad heavy at parking lot speeds, but it's all in the name of road feel. Get up to speed and it lightens up perfectly and it never leaves you guessing. Why our 2008 1 Series would have better steering that our 2009 7 Series is a little puzzling, but Oldham was right on this one.
We have yet to observe another occurrence of the non-start issue in our long-term 2008 BMW 135i coupe. However, a pattern has emerged: If the car has been sitting for a while, we're looking at extra crank time before the engine will fire up. It happened when I left work last night and again this morning in my carport.
After reading your comments regarding the known fuel pump issue with the N54 engine (i.e., the direct-injected and twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 in our 135i), we've decided to make a service appointment.
In addition, we ran across this TSB dated April 2009 that apparently covers our 2008 135i. It starts out, "BMW has become aware of a potential problem that could affect the durability of the High Pressure Fuel Pump (HDP) of certain MY 2007/2008 BMWs with the N54 engine."
The bulletin continues, "Vehicles affected may have the Service Engine Soon lamp illuminated with various low fuel pressure-related faults (e.g., 29DC, 29F1, 29F2 ) stored in the Engine Control Module (DME). Also, the affected vehicles may experience an extended engine starting time ("long crank") or reduced engine performance ("engine failsafe mode") when the High Pressure Fuel Pump malfunctions."
A fix for the problem is detailed in the TSB, right down to the part numbers. In addition, the bulletin says the emissions warranty on affected cars is extended to 10 years/120,000 miles.
Chillax: The activity done by a car in an LAX (Los Angeles International airport) parking lot while the driver is away on a business trip.
Usage: Our 2008 BMW 135i is chillaxing for a few days while Dan is in Europe.
Who needs Urban Dictionary when you've got this?
Seeing a slightly worried look on face my face while I contemplated a car that won't start 45 miles away from home, Mike added, "Don't worry, the car has BMW Roadside Assistance."
I have to admit, I got a bout of nervous tummy every time I was just about to start the engine. Thankfully the long crank start was a non-issue the entire weekend. Maybe the code was the cure? We'll keep you in the loop.
Give it up for brand-specific internet fansites. Get past all the flame wars and troll fests and you'll always find a few sharp guys and gals.
After I posted up our 2008 BMW 135i's dyno comparison geek-out a few weeks back, one or two members of e90post.com pointed out that I incorrectly stated that our car's stock redline was 6500 rpm.
Although the engine's speed ceased to increase beyond 6500 rpm while on the dyno, those chaps are correct. Here's why.
The key bit is that our longterm 135i does not have the Sport Package. See, BMW governs non-Sport Package-equipped 135is to 135 mph. Sport Package versions enjoy a 155-mph speed limiter.
On the dyno, I was caning the 135i in fourth gear, which can reach 135 mph before the rev limiter is touched. The car simply shuts down the party when 135 mph is reached. In fourth gear, 135 mph happens to be right around 6500 rpm.
Had I dynoed in third gear instead, our 135i would have gone all the way to 7000 rpm.
A little digging around suggests that the Sport Package included summer tires with a higher speed rating than the rubber on the non-Sport Package versions. It's fairly impressive that BMW didn't simply emasculate all versions of the 135i just to account for the lowest-common denominator trim level.
And while this distinction doesn't have too much relevance in the US, I'm sure autobahn users appreciate it.
Is our long-term BMW 135 ugly? Yes.
But at least it doesn't look like this.
I spotted this future classic at Albertson's the other night.
Good riddance Isuzu.
It was a cool California morning when our 2008 BMW 135i broke the 25,000-mile mark. We took a minute to reflect on just how little we've spent on the BMW over the past 16 months.
Less than 100-bucks a month. And all of this went towards replacing tires that we smoked up having fun. No scheduled maintenance costs. All repairs under warranty. Not bad. Reflection over.
Our 2008 BMW 135i is too much fun to drive. Smooth-shifting, super-fast and better steering than the 7 Series. Problem is, on the rare open highway, I often find myself hitting extra-legal speeds. Oops! Getting there was so effortless! Not a peep from the car. How can I stop myself from doing this since I just don't have it in me to lighten my lead foot? The Bimmer has so much to give!
Then I discovered a way. Simply pretend there isn't a 6th gear...or a 5th gear for that matter since in the lower gears I can feel and hear when I'm hitting the legal speed limit. It's kinda like hiding the carton of Ben & Jerry's Oatmeal Cookie Chunk ice cream behind the frozen chicken in the freezer. Can't see it, won't be tempted.
I don't mean to imply with this entry's title that there's something wrong with our 2008 BMW 135i's suspension. Everything's working fine. But after all these months, this car's ride quality still doesn't feel quite right to me. Well, at least it doesn't feel right to me on the freeways and a lot of the city streets in the LA area.
Every time I get in our 135i, I'm struck by how compliant it wants to be. Its ride isn't just smooth, it's downright soft. But as soon as I hit an expansion joint or an uneven patch of pavement, I realize I'm mistaken. Initially, the suspension compresses in its soft, forgiving manner, but then, a big dose of damping brings it back hard and you feel the brunt of that road imperfection. The sequence gets old after you realize what's happening, and it made my passenger queasy.
To me, the car feels conflicted, like the chassis engineers couldn't decide whether the U.S.-spec BMW 1 Series needed to be a cushy cruiser for people who ordinarily wouldn't buy a BMW, or a full-on sport coupe for people who think the 3 Series has gotten too big and luxurious. So it's both — and neither.
Given how much engine is in this car, I'd vote for giving it an unapologetically firm, highly controlled ride. Save the cushy stuff for the 128i.
Since we got the 2008 BMW 135i last April, its time in our fleet is nigh. Tear. So last night as I was enjoying this fun, little ride all around town, I started daydreaming: Heyyy, what if I bought it? It would suit my lifestyle perfectly as a single lady living in L.A. I like its small size, love its ride and handling, and it's easy to even drive during stop-and-go traffic. Plus, I know its previous owner is diligent about its maintenance schedule.
So I went on our site to do the numbers, you know, just to see. If I configured the car correctly on our used car appraiser, it would cost a bit under $30K to buy (originally it was $37K). Um. And according to our True Cost to Own calculator which factored in everything from maintenance to depreciation to repairs, etc. over five years, it would end up costing me $57,139. Hm. Ah well.
Remember the Focus' faulty door grab design, which places the handle too far forward, preventing you from getting enough leverage to easily open the door? And at the same time causing the grab itself to pop out?
Well, the 135i isn't that bad, but it could use another door grab located somewhere in the middle of that armrest. Not only would it be easier to reach, but it would require less effort to close the door.
Does anyone really think the 1 series is the spritual sucessor to the 2002? I don't, here's why -
The 135 just doesn't look special inside or out. I like the 135's performance and I really like the shifter and ride too. But ultimately this BMW looks and feels like just another coupe - the 2002 was anything but ordinary.
I like to complain about our 2008 BMW 135i, because it proves that it's possible to for a very quick car to be boring. The torque curve is just too flat and accessible, I've argued, and the suspension too soft and/or too compromised by this particular run-flat tire compound.
Then, I went and put on a bunch of miles over the weekend and realized what an easy life I could have with the apparently boring 135i. Even with the twin-turbo inline-6 its de-reflashed state, the car accelerates from 70 to 130 mph on a closed course with ridiculous ease. Mountain passes might as well be tabletop plains.
Plus, I love driving this car at night. As often as I lament the cheapy leatherette upholstery and nonexistent Bluetooth (got the buttons but didn't the buy the option), it delights me that adaptive bi-xenon headlights are standard, because they address the one big problem about driving at night: not being able to see far enough ahead. Add in some precise steering and you've got a car that feels incredibly adroit and secure on dark roads.
It had been a while since I had stepped foot in our long-term 2008 BMW 135i. We've had the darn thing since May of last year (we're about the sell it) and we've put over 26,000 miles on it. I've driven it quite a bit over those 15 months, but haven't given it a whirl or posted a blog about it since way back in June.
Pure circumstance. I've always liked the 135i, so when the opportunity arose I took the little coupe home last night.
What a great car.
As the headline says, the 135i is fun, fast, refined and dead reliable. What an engine. It's easily one of the best powerplants in the world. This car is "lose your license" fast yet it never feels crude or adolescent.
As small, quick and athletic as the 135i is you never feel like you're driving a kids car, and that isn't always the case when you're banging around in an equally expensive STI or Evo. Even the GT-R feels so high school compared the little 1 Series.
And the 135i has been one of our most reliable long-term cars ever. I looked it up this morning. Nothing has really gone wrong with this car. It was serviced once for free at 14,980 miles and it got new brake pads for free at 12,133 miles. That's it.
Okay, we did replace the tires at 16,643 miles, but that was because we beat the car at a couple of track days. It was our fault, not the cars.
Fact is, nothing, absolutely nothing, has broken, fallen off, or failed to work as it was intended. Sure, it should always be that way, but it isn't. We've had plenty of cars through here with legendary reputations for reliability that haven't lived up to expectations. This time BMW and our 135i have exceeded them.
(2008 BMW 135i, 27,000 miles later — Photo by Andrew Reed)
We've had our fun and it's time to move on.
With a heavy heart I posted a for sale ad on Craigslist for our 2008 BMW 135i. I hoped the phone wouldn't ring. Then the call came.
I'm being a little over dramatic. But it's true: two days after listing the BMW for full TMV price of $28,600 I got a call from a real buyer. It took four weeks for this to happen when I sold our 2008 Cadillac CTS at a fraction of the cost.
The BMW caller said he would call back to schedule a test drive. We'll see.
Now for a few quick stats: We bought the BMW 15 months ago for $37,145. If we sell it for our asking price (unlikely) it will have dropped in value only $8,545 over 27,000 miles. Impressive.
I guess I was a little overconfident when I first blogged about selling our 2008 BMW 135i. I reported that even at full TMV price of $28,600, I got several calls and emails about buying it in the first weekend.
The interest continues even as the TMV price has fallen to $27,000. I've had several promising phone calls from shoppers who ask informed questions and promised to come test drive it. This weekend I actually got an emailed offer of $25,000. "Fast sale," the email read. (I'm not sure what that was supposed to mean.) I countered with $26,500 and didn't hear anything back.
With a car as sweet as the 135i, it's pretty easy to hold your price. What's the worst that can happen — we keep driving it? I'll take that risk.
The sun sets on the long term test of our 2008 BMW 135i. Photo by Andrew Reed.
I drove our 2008 BMW 135i for three weeks during the time it took to sell. As time passed I bonded more strongly with this amazing car. When a buyer finally stepped forward and the time to pass the keys arrived, I found it difficult to let go.
Surprisingly, it took a while to sell this car and although we got a fair price the buyer got a bargain. Here are a few details.
I had the 1 listed on Autotrader for $27,300. The buyer emailed and offered $25,000. Although I don't like to negotiate via email I hadn't had much action. So I emailed back that the lowest I'd go was $26,500. He came, drove it and offered $26,000. Sadly, I accepted.
I met the buyer at the bank and we signed papers there. He then drove me home and I could see the bonding process taking hold of him, too. While he initially said he had to hurry back to get some work done, he began to change his tune. Suddenly, his schedule allowed for a drive down PCH with the sunroof open.
Okay, so we could have done better than $26,000 if we had waited for just the right buyer. But there are new cars to buy and we had to work with the best offer at hand.