We've been covering the BMW 1-series since it debuted in Europe in 2004. Now, finally, the 1-series is on roads here in the United States. We've compiled our coverage of the 1-series from its debut in Europe, to the 135i spyshots, to the 1-series tii concept, all the way up to our most current road tests of the 1-series coupe and convertibles. There's also word that BMW will revive the tii badge for both 1- and 3-series models in the next few years. Feel free to discuss this hot new BMW in the Automobile Magazine forums.
We recently had a short-term 135i automatic coupe in the office, and here's what some of our editors had to say about it.
Marc Noordeloos, Road Test Editor
Man is this car fast! Pick a gear, any gear and there is power everywhere from the glorious twin-turbo. The automatic transmission is very impressive though the torque converter/throttle calibration is very aggressive off the line. The tranny has wonderful, almost DSG-like up and downshifts. Of course, I'd still rather have a manual. The chassis is typical BMW, brilliant but with a slightly choppy ride on bad surfaces and excellent steering, though it's a bit heavy at times. The ride was better than I thought it would be based upon the 130i M-sport I drove in the UK about a year ago. You can feel the new brake differential at work as the 135i likes to slide sideways where a 335i just spins its inside tire.
All of the above said, I still find this car very expensive. I like the idea of a base, 128i but a 135i with options over $40,000? Sorry, but I think a four-door GTI for $25K is a far better deal. Plus, the VW can also handle my friends and family and still is very fun to drive. Don't get me wrong, I love the 135i but I wouldn't spend my own money on one.
Jean Jennings, Editor-in-Chief
NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson says he's never had a speeding ticket because he never drives more than 9 mph over the limit. Well, Jimmie, try getting down the road in a BMW 135i without blasting through your personal invisible fence. I had a thin sweat on my upper lip this morning on the long interstate commute, every time I looked down at the speedo and saw the big bad 9-0 registered. And that was when I was really trying to keep it down to a dull roar. The 135i is oh-so rewarding when you get into the twin turbos, never mind the phalanx of state police now regularly patrolling the zone circling the home of two national car magazines. It roars, it zooms, it zips, all at your command. The automatic works like a dream once you get used to the knobby steering wheel-mounted "paddles." Fingers behind the fat wheel for upshift, thumbs in front for down. Of course, it knows you're going to mess up at first and won't allow me - I mean YOU - to downshift on the freeway at 80.
We have considered never giving this car back, but we want to get the cabrio in the office.
Joe Lorio, Senior Editor
I have now driven three versions of the 1-series: The 128i manual, the 128i automatic, and the 135i automatic. Of the three, I'd say the 128i manual is my favorite. It has the typical, fantastic BMW shifter and clutch, and the non-turbocharged 3.0-liter feels plenty lively in this car. I was not as enamored of the 128i automatic, which had me thinking that for those who insist on an automatic transmission, the turbo engine is the way to go. Getting behind the wheel of the 135i confirmed that opinion. It's ultra-responsive, even if you don't bother with BMW's backwards-logic (to my mind, anyway) shift paddles. This example also seems to have heavier steering than the other cars I drove. Now I need to drive a 135i manual . . .
Joe will get his chance soon enough when our Four Seasons 135i arrives. We'll be sure to keep you updated on our time with BMW's new coupe both here and in the magazine.