Who says you can't appease the slushbox-loving American public while still providing some manual control over gearchanges? Those skeptics likely haven't driven a properly tuned dual-clutch gearbox, like the one in this 135i. For 2011, BMW dumped the six-speed automatic option in the 135i, and instead pairs this seven-speed doppelkupplungsgetriebe to the new, single-turbo N55 engine.
In normal driving, the seven-speed transmission is just as smooth and benign as any other automatic offered in BMW's portfolio. Tap the shifter over into the manual mode and punch that sport button, and its demeanor quickly changes. You'll be ripping off shifts in less time than it takes to blink an eye, thanks in no small part to the wheel-mounted shift paddles thrown in with the Sport Package.
Is it for everyone? Perhaps it isn't for those who must heel-toe their way in to work (you know who you are), but it's a great choice for those of us who regularly encounter long stretches of stop-and-go driving on a daily basis, live with someone who doesn't enjoy performing the three-pedal tango each time they take the wheel, yet still enjoy holding gears until redline when an open, winding stretch of two-lane blacktop presents itself. Even the price is attractive; it's only a couple hundred dollars more than what the Bavarians charged for the six-speed auto. Sign me up.
Evan McCausland, Web Producer