It’s February, and Michigan is enjoying one of its snowiest winters on record. The BMW 135i, unfortunately, isn’t much of a snowmobile.
Online editor Phil Floraday: “Very limited ground clearance, marginal tires, and overactive traction control means you need to forego electronic nannies and carefully choose your lines turning into parking lots or down unplowed streets. I never really got stuck (though once I did have to use the ice scraper to move some mounds of snow away from the rear tires), but I spent a lot of time worrying about that or spinning the car. I prefer to leave ESP on in the winter, but even the dynamic mode doesn’t allow for enough wheelspin to get the 135i started from a light or away from a curb. Switching the ESP all the way off takes a few seconds, so I just left it off when there was deep snow or ice around. If you are careful, the 135 is a fine car in the snow, but I’d much rather have a little extra ground clearance.”
East coast bureau chief, Jamie Kitman, manages to wrangle the 1-series away from the Ann Arbor home office, and spirit it away to New York.
Kitman: “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 and the extra snugness, which can be a little oppressive – claustrophobic even – when you’re just puttering around, although it 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 and heavy. Two hundred pounds less than a 3-series is not enough; Five-hundred would have been better. If it were that easy, though, I expect they would have done it already. But one step in the right direction might be a four-cylinder engine – and a turbo four for those who want to go really fast.”
Senior editor Joe Lorio is glad for the little BMW’s arrival.
Lorio: “Particularly 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 (although BMW steering wheels rims have gotten almost comically fat lately).
Pulling up 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.”