Although the M140i’s 3.0-litre straight-six engine is turbocharged, there’s very little turbo lag, meaning accelerator response is usefully snappy. The engine pulls eagerly from around 2000rpm but really opens up in the mid-range and revs freely towards its 7000rpm redline. There’s a lovely, old-school howl from the engine that gets more intense as revs rise, as well as a seductive crackle from the exhaust when you lift off the accelerator.
Traction is good in the dry and, once rolling, the M140i will leave similarly priced rivals, including the Ford Focus RS and Honda Civic Type R, for dust. In our tests, the automatic version managed the 0-60mph sprint in just 4.5sec. However, the car does struggle to get off the line in wet weather; four-wheel-drive rivals such as the Focus RS are more composed and capable in the rain.
Opt for the standard six-speed manual gearbox and you'll pay slightly less for your M140i, but the shift is a bit notchy so doesn't provide the driver reward you might expect. We reckon the eight-speed auto is well worth the extra.
The steering is on the light side – even in Sport and Sport+ modes – and doesn’t provide a huge amount of feedback. The M140i can't beat the stiffer, more hardcore Focus RS and Civic Type R through corners, either, but it's hardly a wallowy barge. In fact, it's thoroughly entertaining to thread along your favourite B-road.
It's well worth stumping up the relatively small premium for adaptive dampers. Without these, the M140i doesn't ride anywhere near as smoothly as the Civic Type R. More positively, the M140i is a far more peaceful cruising companion than most of its rivals, even if there's a bit too much wind noise on the motorway.