Got a loaner 135i

Although this blog is more focused on my E46 M3, I recently got a 135i loaner from my dealership and got to drive it for a weekend. Wrote a review on it. Here it goes…

hey guys.

for the longest time, 2 years, I have been admiring your cars. I find most of the new bmw’s quite unattractive and only 3 BMWs really float my boat these days – the E60 M5, the Alpina B7, and the 135i. You may be asking, “why do you have a 335 4 door?”. The answer to that is that I need a 4 door daily driver with all wheel drive, and BMW makes the best sports sedans so I went with one.

Like I was saying, for the past 2 years, I have been admiring your 1 series cars. The main reason is that they are the only bmw that look like the previous generation E46 body. I like how the car is small and the n54 motor is a piece of engineering genius. I also like the rear of the car, as I usually think BMW makes a car look great from the front, the side, and usually fail in the rear. The CSL E46 M3 was the only great looking car from the rear.

I was having some suspension issues with my 335 so I brought it in to my dealership and I was given a 135i as a loaner. I was so excited my malaise of being awake at 6am quickly disappeared. I walked outside the service center and this is what I was greeted by – a 2010 135i

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Yum! I opened the car and adjusted the seat. For non-sport seats, the bench like seats were alright. I found myself struggling to sit tight in them, as I have Cobra Suzuka Pro GT fixed back racing shells in my e46 m3 and the sports seats in my e90 335. The car was also automatic, which is nice because I have heard that the n54 motor mates the best with the automatic transmission. I put the car into D and immediately the torque pulled me out of my parking spot. It felt nice just being able to cruise in D and then Sport Mode and finally into manual drive. I do wish that the car came with sport paddles, but the shifting by the gear knob was fine. I came to a stop sign and was turning left. I wanted to see what this car had so I floored it and as expected the rear came out and the tires spun and I giggled myself. God this car has power. I have the same motor in my 335i, but this seems so much quicker. Is it the 300-400lbs? or is it this car is RWD? Probably a combination of the two.

I got onto the highway and started cruising back home. I decided to myself, why should I drive on the highway. Let me turn around and head to Harriman State Park in Rockland/Orange Counties, NY. There are some beautiful roads at Harriman and they are very quiet and most importantly – twisty. Now I am not the type to condone or admire driving like a twat bag on public roads, especially roads with wild life (deer > car) or people ([B]fear[/B] of going to jail and taking it in the butt > ego). I just wanted to drive the car on roads where I could get a good feel of this car. Maybe it would want me to buy it! Anyways, I turned the car around and head to Harriman.

Thirty five minutes later I enter the park.

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This is the first time that I get to look at the car since I was barely awake when I took the keys.

The car is beautiful. Some people think it looks squished but I absolutely love it. THe hood is the right size, the doors are not too big, and the butt is perfect especially w/the matte black diffuser.

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I enter the park and go through the first section. There are some blind turns so I wasn’t really gunning it too hard, but the car felt great. The turn in was very nice and so was the track out. The car does have a natural tendency to understeer

understeer

but that can be fixed with a proper set of coilovers and some better tires. The car absorbs bumps wonderfully and the traction control, which I keep on, was not too intrusive. There were points where I was going over bumps and the car felt a bit “airy” and thats when the DTC kicked in. Otherwise, the car was really enjoying itself and I was :thumsup: the entire time. After the first section of twisties I really started to speak to myself saying BMW did a fantastic job with this car.

This section was composed of a right handed turn that was blind, and a nice S turn which led to a long sweeping left where you could see oncoming traffic, so you could raise the speed here. The car really turns in beautifully and tracks out wonderfully as well. The weight balance is great as most BMWs are. The throttle response is a lot better than my e90’s, I can tell you that.

The next part of the drive was driving by lakes and mostly straight roads and slight turns. I really enjoyed this car at this point because I got to really soak in the interior. As most BMW cars do, the interior was well laid out and has the driver in mind. The dash are simple and effective – rpm on one side, speedo on the other. I do like the e9x m3 lighting more – the white background, but the orange is easy on the eyes. My father has an IS Lexus and the bright dash just burns my eyes at night. The steering wheel felt smaller than the sport steering wheel in my 335, but it probably was an optical illusion. The weird thing is that the interior felt roomier than my 335. it may be because the seats were the non-sport and did not hug me as much, but I could reach for the seat adjustment without clunking my watch on the door arm rests. The center console looked a tad cheap, but probably because there was no iDrive. it is a smaller car so the center console can not be as nice and big as it is on the e9x. The cupholders are nice and fit a small Coolatta from Dunkin Donuts, so this car would be perfect to drive to and from and AT the race track. I put both the windows down and opened the “frame of refence” massive sunroof. The car was a joy to drive on these scenic roads and the air rushing through my dense indian hair :mad0260: was a site for sore eyes.

I got to the next section of Harriman where there were some nice elevation changes and sweeping turns. This section starts off with a nice set of esses. I left the car in 2nd gear and I experienced a lot of tire screeching. The run flats were definitely doing there job and the DTC was lighting up like Rudolph’s nose. There was then a huge drop in elevation and a long sweeping right. This was a tricky area as right after this there was a sharp left but it was also a sweeper, so this was a nice point to feel these 1 series brakes that everyone has been raving about. As expected, the bite was sharp and precise. This car has failed to disappoint me all day! I was trying to find a reason NOT to order one in the coming months. But everything I did was leaving me just head over heels in love.

My dog definitely had a great time:

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Compared to an E46 M3 stock v.stock

Compared to my e46 m3 when I had it stock, 3 years ago and not as track oriented of a driver as I am now, this car is on par if not slightly better. The steering ratio is quicker, the throttle response is there even though its a turbo car – you can keep it in the sweet spot in 2nd and 3rd gear and probably 4th gear on a race course. The suspension is the only part of the car that I find a desire to modify if I were to get this car. I would go with a basic single adjustable TC Kline Koni w/ 500lb / 500lb spring set up and probably an upgraded sway bar. The motors in these cars are so perfect I wouldn’t mess with one – maybe an upgraded front mount intercooler and a catch can to keep things clean and healthy up front. The turn in compared to an m3 is quite similar. The only differences may be that the m3 feels larger on the road and the lack of torque, but shares the same identical waftiness in turns that the 135 has.

Compared to my track prepped E46 M3

This comparison makes no sense as I have spent a boatload on my M3 not including the price of the car so comparing a modified car to a stock car would be useless. I will say though – the 135 well prepped will be a MONSTER on the track. BMW has done it once again.

Summary
Bravo BMW.

BMW is truly the ultimate driving experience. This car is splendid. From the exterior look, to the interior ergonomics, to the stock suspension, and to the splendid motor, this car is absolutely tremendous. I did find a few flaws, but at the end of the day every car has its own quirkiness. For the price point ~high $30k~ this car is splendid. I have driven a 328i, 335i, e90 m3, and 335xi. This car really is in its own class. I found the balance to be excellent. I found the turn in to be spectacular. The car tracks out wonderfully as well. Like I said, as most BMWs do show, the car exhibits some understeer. There has been some comments made on m3forum.net about guys coming from a 135i to an E46 M3 and there is no comparison. I would have to respectfully disagree. The 135i stock is on par or even better than the e46 m3. And I have both the cars. The 135 turns in and tracks out the same, if not better than a stock e46 m3. There obviously is a form of rawness that the E46 m3 exhibits, but that is mostly due to the harsh suspension as well as the high revving S54 motor. The M3 does at sometimes feel extremely connected to the driver, but the 135 does not lack in any form in that department. I believe that when properly equipped (coilovers, lsd, sway bar, sports seats), the 135 will be a serious competitor to the E46 M3

On the other hand, the mighty 135 has the muscle to get through quick turning segments and also has the perfect throttle response to make you forget the car is even turbo charged. That is what makes BMW geniuses. They built this mighty little 1 series and made it absolutely spectacular.

I am so glad that I had this experience as I am in the early stages of placing an order for a 135.

My ideal build – Black/Red, DCT, M Sport, Navigation, 2 red leather recaro sportsters, bmw perf steering wheel. I was considering ordering one and going for the euro delivery, or possibly picking up a CPO one in 2012. 2 years seems too far away!

Anyways, thanks for the read guys and I will continue admiring your cars!

Here is a quick video of a portion of the drive:

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3 thoughts on “Got a loaner 135i

  1. You wrote this review as if you were going to send it to some official BMW people, but you wrote things like “take in the butt”! :0

    I still think the car is ugly, but the performance is there.

    You should go test drive a brand new S4 and write a review.

    Do your dealerships have overnight test drives these days? Mine do, just have to convince them you are actually interested in buying a car, shouldn’t be too hard for you to do! 😉

    • hahah. maybe i should omit them?

      i was going through this long term review on edmunds.com some people love the looks, some people hate it. it is like a pug, a face only a mother can appreciate.

      i like the looks of the new s4, but s4s are overweight, nose heavy, understeering pigs. so no interest in it.

      no unfortunately i think my dealerships do the basic 20 minute test drive. you can’t really like a car till you have it for a weekend.

  2. I am also waiting to pay off my car and get a 135i.

    I just hope BMW fixes there limp mode problem on N54 engine. Also LSD is a must! :=)

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