Trying to get the optimum interior space from a family hatchback tends to lead most manufacturers to place the engines of their products transversely, and then send the power to the front wheels. With the 1 Series (at least for the first two generations), BMW felt this was unnecessary, and decided upon rear-wheel drive and longitudinal engines.
Hence when BMW used the M135i to launch its M Performance sub-brand (think of these as Diet Cokes to the full-sugar red-can cokes of the M3, M4 etc), it had a ready-made USP: this was a hot hatch with six-cylinders AND rear-wheel drive. In short: a proper driver’s car.
As such, what the M135i lacks in interior space for passengers and luggage it makes up for with a sweet handling balance and some serious punch thanks to a 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder engine.
But for all its hooligan credentials, the M135i has a sensible side, too: drive it carefully and you can get high 30s MPG fuel economy, while being eased down the road by the smooth-shifting eight-speed ZF auto. But when you’re trying to smoke your way to 60mph from rest in around five seconds flat, you probably won’t be thinking about that…