2008 BMW 135i: Editor Almost Complains About Tractable Torque
March 25, 2009
After reading the comments in yesterday's open thread, I took our 2008 BMW 135i coupe on a quick drive through the coastal canyons this morning.
On the way there, I experimented with shift points. If you were bound and determined to exploit the twin-turbocharged, 3.0-liter, inline six-cylinder's flat torque curve, you could upshift anywhere between 1,250 and 1,500 rpm without lugging the engine. Shifting at 2,000 is more comfortable, though, and in normal driving, I usually upshift between 2K and 3K. I usually don't get the best fuel economy, though.
I also noticed that the engine responds well to throttle if you're down around 1,500 in 5th gear (during a city-traffic slog) and don't want to bother with a downshift. I'd never noticed this previously, because I never drive the car this way. Not only is it boring, it's a waste of the car's excellent pedal spacing, which makes it so easy to rip off heel-and-toe downshifts.
By 3,000 rpm, the engine really starts to feel good. By 4,000, it develops an angrier note that grows as you approach the 5,800-rpm horsepower peak (300). Redline is at 7,000, of course, but there's just enough vibration creeping in at 6,500 that I usually upshift there.
I like this engine a lot. Everyone does. But I find that with all that torque waiting for me between 2K and 4K, I don't go to redline (or even 6,500) very often. I get lazy. And so I wonder if I might get more day-to-day enjoyment out of a normally aspirated BMW inline-6. Because I sure went to redline more often in our 2006 BMW 330i.
Erin Riches, Senior Editor @ 19,117 miles