Was forced by need, availability, and good price, to "settle" for the Steptronic instead of the manual; not sure it was the best choice. Great power, but no limited slip diff makes wheels pin far too easily. Both auto trans and traction control have various "modes" but not convinced any of them are ideal. Handling limited by crappy RFT OE tires. Exterior design is good from some angles but awkward from others. Excellent top; quiet when up, and retracts neatly. Interior handsome. Rides much better than my previous Honda S2K, but doesn't handle as well (not surprising). Too many creaks and rattles for a car in this class, mostly around tops of windows when top is up. Fuel mileage is poor.
We leased a 2009 135i convertible and just turned it in.
This car had many problems over the 3 years and BMW did not meet our expectations in the service department. We had to take the car back twice for every issue we had and there we many. It was not ever fixed the first time even on a recall issue.
Additionally, when we returned it with 12,000 miles after 3 years they charged us $600 for new tires on the rear of the car. The explanation was that because this car is a "sports model" the tires only last 12-15,000 miles. If you lease a BMW this means you will have to replace the tires at least 3 times during your 3 year lease if you drive it all the miles allotted.
The 128i is a cute car and should be an economical option to someone that wants to drive a BMW. However, there is a problem with the CD player, a replacement isn't available right now and there is no known date when one will be available. In addition, there are flaws in the dash board (which BMW won't warranty against rattles when replaced) and 2 recalls notices.
The engine is a dream, and at its limits, you will scream. The exterior is old school but I think it's cool. It will look better with time, but does cost a pretty dime. Why not spoil yourself, who else will?
This is my third BMW, my first was a 320i in college. My last car was a 2001 325CI. I found the 325 the antithesis of the 320, it was bloated. I was hoping that this car would be a modern 320. It's not, its still too heavy. But honestly with this engine, I could care less. I didn't think that I "needed" a 135, but a got a great deal on one and took it. I still don't need this much power but it is a blast to have. The handling blows everything I have ever driven away, a lot of my friends have M3s and honestly I think this handles better and it rides way way better. The iPod, Bluetooth, all the goodies are well designed and work perfectly. I'm waiting for a disappointment but haven't found it yet.