February 12, 2008

This One's a hooligan, Axis BMW 135i mini review

"Didn't I see this review before?" Yes, it's not deja vĂș all over again, we had a chance to drive a 135i a couple of months ago but after writing the following quick impression were asked to play nice and not scoop anyone,  we did....because we ARE nice!  But now it's officially out in the US so,  without further ado....

Ok, a slightly pudgier hooligan than we wished for but certainly a machine that will both tempt and amuse.

We had a chance to play a little with a 135i last night and and we enjoyed the littlest BMW very much. The interior design is the best from BMW in quite a while, simple and very appropriate for the car. Our example had a (*) interior with aluminum accents, an extra fat steering wheel with perforated leather. The transmission was the optional 6 speed steptronic which oddly enough might not be a bad choice with this engine. The push-pull paddles are a counter-intuitive in my book but the transmission shifts quickly enough not to fall off boost when driving aggressively. That's something which you might have to be quite handy to accomplish with a stick shift. Stop light racers will love the steptronic on the 135!

The car just begs for you to act in multiple socially irresponsible ways, you will find yourself looking for drifting opportunities, you will find yourself staring at that red light, right foot itching for the floor. There is just something about the car that WILL bring the hooligan in you out to play.

Of course at some point someone said "Bitte, zis car might be a teensy bit of a handful" which it will be in slippery conditions with DSC turned off. Enter the understeer from hell, the car comes with 215 front tires and 245 rears....go into a corner too fast and it will simply wash out and go straight. So a classic slow in, fast out car and to help accomplish that you have the first new brake system on a BMW in years, you by now know that the 135i comes with a 6 piston front calliper of very generous dimensions. The brakes feel lightly different than the traditional BMW ones, a bit more firm with less pedal travel without being super short like on a Porsche for example. Only time on the track will tell how they stand up to abuse.

Finally interior room is quite big in the front, very adequate in the back (though we were debating if you could fit 18" track wheels and tires back there), the trunk is spacious and the ride over potholes quite polite.

Given that one will be able to get stupid amounts of power with simple chip type mods, this car will become the staple of tuners and with some simple suspension and wheel modification it will be huge fun at your next track day. You don't have to be a genius to predict this car will be a huge success.

We were left only wanting for a lighter version of this car, maybe even with a magnesium block four cylinder Turbo...now THAT would be in the spirit of the 2002 Turbo Tii!

(*) I could tell you but then I'd have to kill you!

Axis of Oversteer BMW 135i mini review. from Axis on Vimeo.


  1. If they make a LTW 135, I'm in. maybe the 135tii concept.

  2. Nice to see a hoon from NYC... now the real question... M coupe or the 135i... I imagine the 1 has a little more straight line kick, but the M loves the corners.

  3. an interesting question, i think two pretty different driving experiences. The 135 has almost 10 years of development over the z3 and is shows. the materials used for the interior, even leaving out design considerations, are nicer. Stock for stock the 135 is going to be easier to drive fast, if anything because of the more forgiving suspension in the rear. it is missing a true LSD and this will limit it in some ways, however if the suspension is right, the inside rear wheel should not lose traction so much and wheelspin not necessarily a big issue.

    The 135 however is much heavier and taller. Both car have "challenging" looks, but the MC at least is so nuts that it's in it's own category while the 1 coupe is a bit of a funny looking...coupe.

    But the car will certainly amuse future owners and with the tried and true suspension/tire fixes will become a popular track toy.

  4. AC, we all know you love your car.... but I think he means the NEW MCoupe (... the Z4 based one).
    i think the MCoupe is a much better tracktard car, just replace the brakes.

    The 135i being almost as heavy as a 335i, doesn't provide a compelling advantage; plus watch those turbos blow at the track (EVO mag already blew theirs in their long term tester 335i Touring).

    If the 135i came as hatchback instead as a Coupe, then the usefulness factor might play a card. But as a Coupe is pointless IMO.

    Nevertheless, the "market" buys on perception, and this one might be a huge success because young hooligans will think of it as the German made alternative to the Japanese great Rally cars (EVO and STi).

    Nowadays BMW brings products to market more based on influencing consumers perception of their needs and wants instead of building the incomparable truly better driving cars, as they did in the past. They have to do this because their volume requires mass marketing. They will do well as a Company.

    Their only product that I think will be a market challenge is the X6, but lets see how many goons are out there...

  5. Well, there is no comparison with the new M Coupe, that's why I assumed he referred to the old shoe...

  6. Well, to its credit the "Old Shoe" is the only modern M Car under 3000#s. It's a classic!


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