2008 BMW 135i: Breaking in and breaking out
March 03, 2009
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?
Paul Seredynski, Executive Editor @ 18,302 miles