Our 2008 BMW 135i spent the month of February with our East Coast staffers, who were more than happy to spend some time with the little, alpine white sportster. East Coast editor Jamie Kitman and senior editor Joe Lorio managed to rack up more than a thousand miles in and around New York City.
Jamie Kitman, East Coast Editor
It’s not hard to like the 1-series-great chassis, solid as a brick with more than 20,000 miles on the clock, and a straight six strong enough to make a big car fast, much less this smallest of the BMWs. The straight six engine is a wonderful product differentiator for BMW. It’s a wonder (almost) no one makes them when they’re so creamy smooth.
Ignoring things like my children and luggage, I’d take a 1-series over a 3-series. I like the relative lack of girth; the extra snugness, which can be a little opressive-claustrophobic even-when you’re just puttering around, makes a lot of sense when you’re getting it on in the 1.Still in my heart of hearts, I think it is too big heavy. 200 pounds less than a 3-series is not enough; 500 would have been better. If it were that easy, though, I expect they would have done it already.
Joe Lorio, Senior Editor
20, 519 miles
Especially after the string of SUVs and crossovers I’ve been in recently, the 135i feels awesome, with its M-worthy levels of power, and tight, precise steering.
Pulling to a stoplight at the crest of a steep hill in Jamie’s riverside town, I discovered something new and, at that moment, quite welcome about this car; a hill-holder clutch. The brakes don’t let go until you hit the gas. That’s one more reason to go for the stick shift, 1-series shoppers.
Our 135i is definitely sporty enough for most- I keep absentmindedly referring to it as the M3-and a bit too hard-core for others; the big wheels, with their wide, low-profile tires do tend to crash over the fresh potholes in our freeze-thawed blacktop. Of course, mellower spec is available.
The size is too big for some, and too small for others; personally I found back seat space adequate for a pair of elementary school kids, but there’s not a lot of growing room back there.
Despite all the differences of opinion about our 135i, I think we can all agree that the 1-series is the most welcome addition to BMW‘s U.S. lineup in a long, long time. More so than any SUVs or crossovers or coupe/sedan half-breeds, the 1-series- a compact, practical, fun-to-drive entry with a full measure of family DNA-is the kind of brand extension that is easy to get behind.
Our assistant editor, David Zenlea, was charged with retrieving the 1-series from New York. To make it worth his while, he added several side-trips before making his way back to Ann Arbor. He was so smitten with the 135i that we had to pry the fat steering wheel from his hands.
David Zenlea, Assistant Editor
I just spent a week and a half and more than 1500 miles-from New York to Washington D.C. then back to Michigan, by way of Chicago- in the 1-series and if I could drive it again tomorrow, I would. Even after 24 hours of highway seat time, I delighted in unnecessarily heel-and-toeing as I slowed for a toll booth and then squealing away, slightly sideways, through first gear. Despite being an enthusiast of American muscle cars, I’ll happily admit the rush of the straight six at full throttle is every bit as satisfying as that of a big, pushrod V-8. What I love about the 1-series is that, unlike some of the bigger, more expensive BMWs I’ve driven, it doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously.
2008 BMW 135i
- Base Price: $35,675
- As Tested: $39,125
- – Black boston leather – $1450- Cold weather package – $600– Sport package – $1000- iPod adapter – $400
- body style 2-door coupe
- accommodation 4 passengers
- construction Steel unibody
- Engine 24-valve, DOHC turbo I-6
- Displacement 3.0-liter ( cu in)
- Horsepower 300 hp @ 5800 rpm
- Torque 300 lb-ft @ 1400 rpm
- Transmission type 6-speed manual
- Drive Rear-drive
- Steering Power rack-and-pinion
- Turning circle 35.1 ft
- Suspension, front Strut-type, coil spring
- Suspension, rear Multilink, coil spring
- Brakes F/R Ventilated disc, ABS
- Tires Pirelli Winter Sottozero RFT
- Tire size F/R 215/40R18 / 245/35R18
- headroom f/c/r 37.9/ 37.1 in
- legroom f/c/r 41.4/ 32 in
- shoulder room f/c/r 54/ 53.4 in
- L x W x H 172.2 x 68.8 x 56 in
- Wheelbase 104.7 in
- Track f/r 57.9/ 58.9 in
- Weight 3373 lb
- weight dist. f/r 52.3/ 47.7 %
- cargo capacity 10 cu ft
- fuel capacity 14 gal
- est. fuel range 350 mi
- fuel grade 91 octane