What's the used BMW M140i hatchback like?
When BMW launched the M135i in 2012 it caused quite a sensation, because although it was based on no more than the rather unassuming 1 Series family car this rear-wheel-drive hot hatch went like stink and had more entertaining handling than many of its rivals. What you got was a compact and powerful three or five-door hatchback powered by a turbocharged 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder engine of immense punch, that oomph sent to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual gearbox or a surprisingly suave eight-speed automatic one.
It all worked brilliantly, but a mid-life tweak to the 1 Series in 2016 produced an upgrade to the M135i in the shape of this: the M140i. Not wishing to break a successful formula, changes were minor: the engine now produces 335bhp, where before it produced 321, and the damping rates were changed. On paper, that extra performance drops the 0 to 62mph sprint time from 4.9 seconds to 4.6. The top speed is electronically limited to 155mph.
Standard kit levels are reasonable and include sat-nav, dual-zone climate control and auto lights and auto wipers. Meanwhile, there’s also a Shadow Edition to seek out that adds dark grey wheels, a black framed grille, dark headlight surrounds, tinted rear lights, rear parking sensors and cruise control.
On the road, the recipe is much the same as the old M135i, and that’s a good thing. The engine pulls eagerly from low down and makes a delicious sound as the needle spins quickly round the dial towards the 7000rpm redline. It’s very quick, of course, with plenty of torque always on tap. Approach a bend and again it’s as before: the steering is quite light, even in the sportier modes, but super-responsive. Turn in to a corner and you’ll find the grip is immense and the handling eager and entertaining. Of course being rear-wheel drive there’s good traction off the line and the ability to be a bit playful with the car’s rear end, should you be driving on a track.
Like the M135i, it’s tremendous fun, although we would try to find a car that’s had the optional adaptive dampers, as they give the car a surprisingly forgiving ride on all but the most broken surfaces. Even in Sport mode, the M140i feels comfortable enough around town, shrugging off smaller imperfections with relative impunity. As a day-to-day proposition, it’s in a different league of comfort and refinement compared with its firmer hot hatch rivals.
Inside, it’s a rather modest thing, considering all that easily accessible performance. It can be had as a three or five-door car, and in either interior space is acceptable rather than stunningly good. Up front things are fine, though, and the low-slung driving position is excellent, with plenty of electrical adjustment to the steering wheel and seat. There are three rear seats, but space will be tight there for taller adults, especially leg room. What is lacking inside is any sort of sporting drama, as there’s precious little in there to distinguish it from the more run-of-the-mill 1 Series. There is, of course, a practical hatchback, and within it an average-sized boot that can be increased in size by folding the rear seats down, which in turn reveals a usefully flat floor.
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