RE: BMW 130i | Spotted

Wednesday 5th June

BMW 130i | Spotted

The days of small six-cylinder BMWs are done - nothing to stop you reliving them, though



If you're not over it, then you're not alone; the BMW 1 Series has not only ditched rear-wheel drive, its six-cylinder USP has gone as well. The practical reasons for the move are numerous and eminently sensible, but that doesn't make the decision any less lamentable for enthusiasts. Because in a market saturated by quite ordinary, transverse-engined, front-drive rivals, the 1 Series always seemed that bit more exotic - that bit more BMW.

And while the 1 Series didn't always deliver on the dynamic promise of its layout, there remains something intriguing about its flagship six-cylinder models. The M135i and M140i of recent years are the most obvious examples of the breed, and miles more successful than any previous versions, though arguably the template extends right the way back to the 325ti Compact of the early 2000s: big straight-six up front, short wheelbase, slightly odd styling and rear-wheel drive.


The chosen exponent of the formula for this Spotted is an E81 130i, using the N52 3.0-litre engine. Launched in 2005, the 130i was the 265hp top of the hatchback range throughout the 1 Series' life - the Coupe and Convertible later getting the 135i version with the turbocharged N54. It was a car received well in the UK, building on what was liked about the standard 1 Series with the muscle of a big engine. That was dependent on spec, however; BMW's obsession with dynamic options was well underway by this point, and concerns were raised about sports suspension and active steering.

This 130i is notable for being an M Sport Limited Edition car, of which just 160 were produced for the UK. They were distinguished by unique BMW Motorsport wheels, a bodykit, sports seats, an M Sport wheel and lemon coloured leather that doesn't look half as awful as it sounds. With a £3,915 premium over a standard 130i M Sport, it cost £30,270 in 2007.


Which, being honest, looks like a lot of money, given the M135i launched five years later with a chunk more power at £30k. Anyway, now those cars are a lot less than that, this 130i M Sport LE for sale at £6,995. Given the car's status - most would surely have been content with a regular 130i, meaning the LE was there for the truly dedicated - you would have to hope an enthusiast (or four) has cherished this car since new. The condition would appear to back that up: the wheels are unkerbed, the paint's shine still lustrous, the lemon leather still... lemony. The service history is said to be full, provided by BMW and specialists.

Surely, too, this era of 1 Series will only become more desirable with knowledge of there being no more. Because for those that like the idea, there's nothing else like it: an S3 is perfectly worthy, but features only a bland four-cylinder turbo and Haldex all-wheel drive. A Golf R32 at least upgrades that package with VW's honking V6, but you'll pay as much money as this 1 Series for an R32 with another 30,000 miles. And a Volvo C30 T5 would be an interesting alternative, though addled with forced induction and front-wheel drive.

So there you are: the masses will surely appreciate a 1 Series of greater practicality and efficiency, but these originals will hold a special place in the hearts of a few. If you count yourself amongst the latter, this 130i looks a gem.


SPECIFICATION - BMW 130I

Engine: 2,996cc, straight-six
Transmission: 6-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 265@6,650rpm
Torque (lb ft): 232@2,750rpm
MPG: 34
CO2: 197g/km
First registered: 2007
Recorded mileage: 87,000
Price new: £30,270
Yours for: £6,995

See the original ad here.


 


Author
Discussion

Mr Tidy

Original Poster:

8,548 posts

69 months

Wednesday 5th June
quotequote all
I had a 325ti Compact for 3+ years as a daily, from 2014 to 2018.

But I've also had a Z4 Coupe since 2014 with the same N52 3 litre engine, and it's a great power-plant!

When I decided to replace my Compact last year I just missed out on a Japan Red 130i less than 10 miles away, and as it was supposed to be my practical car I ended up with an E91 325i with the smaller version of the N52.

But to be honest I was disappointed with it, so this year I replaced it with an E90 330i (also N52 3 litre) and in a Man Maths sort of way justified it because it has the rare split/fold rear seats! rolleyes

While the 130iLEs are fully loaded, I wouldn't want one because they all have 3 doors - and when you want to drop the rear seats you have to scrabble about in the rear footwell while dropping the rear head-rests. Which is one of the things I found a PITA with my Compact!

Plus the LEs have electric PAS, whereas earlier ones have hydraulic PAS which is so much better IMHO. (The HPAS on my 330i is way better than the EPAS on my Z4).

The only problem is all 130i prices seem to be holding up well - which is why I bought my 330i. laugh

I would say 130is are great, but I'd rather they got cheaper!


yonex

14,302 posts

110 months

Wednesday 5th June
quotequote all
They do tend to get under your skin these cars, they’re a niche of their own. The engine is a gem.

mrpenks

207 posts

97 months

Wednesday 5th June
quotequote all
Re: early 2000s 325ti compact being the first, there was a 323ti compact with the same formula in the mid 90s

sagarich

1,001 posts

91 months

Wednesday 5th June
quotequote all
I’ve had an LE for the past 5 years and it’s been brilliant . Goes completely under the radar, has enough power and sounds wonderful and reasonably practical. I thought the 3 door would be a pain, but my 3 year old can get in and out with not too much assistance.

The suspension is staying to show signs that it needs a refresh at 90k, but apart front that it’s been pretty good.

I’m unsure what to replace it with apart from a 987 Cayman... which is now out the window with the arrival of my second son this week.

Great little cars!

s m

17,518 posts

145 months

Wednesday 5th June
quotequote all
mrpenks said:
Re: early 2000s 325ti compact being the first, there was a 323ti compact with the same formula in the mid 90s
Occasionally see one about or up for sale


https://www.pistonheads.com/classifieds/x/x/x/x/77...
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SD_1

6,894 posts

100 months

Wednesday 5th June
quotequote all
Lovely cars these, never driven one but can absolutely see the appeal. A couple of friends have had them, and regard them extremely highly.

mrpenks said:
there was a 323ti compact with the same formula in the mid 90s
Am I right in thinking they didn't make it to the UK?

s m

17,518 posts

145 months

Wednesday 5th June
quotequote all
SD_1 said:
Lovely cars these, never driven one but can absolutely see the appeal. A couple of friends have had them, and regard them extremely highly.

mrpenks said:
there was a 323ti compact with the same formula in the mid 90s
Am I right in thinking they didn't make it to the UK?
Yes, not officially - lhd only

But there are a fair few about and often one up for sale somewhere in UK

Escort3500

4,525 posts

87 months

Wednesday 5th June
quotequote all
Cue the predictable derogatory comments regarding the looks/design wink. Absolutely justified IMO; it’s really not a good looking car.

But in this package (and its 135i/140i cousins) what a great driver’s car! I’ve only driven one briefly (130i) but what a lovely smooth engine, decent gearbox and predictable, sure-footed handling. It really is a nice drive, and the one in the ad looks to be a good example.

Edited by Escort3500 on Wednesday 5th June 08:39

DBRacingGod

518 posts

134 months

Wednesday 5th June
quotequote all

Belting cars. I loved every single second of mine and only replaced it because Labradors are a bit of a squeeze in the back.

Onehp

1,030 posts

225 months

Wednesday 5th June
quotequote all
I found the chassis not to be very good at bumps and the steering to be very numb and a disappointment, also the rwd wasn't very predictable in it's handling.
Good news is that you can put lots of M3 bits in, put in an LSD and then they truly handle! Had mine for 4,5 years albeit with the 2l twinturbo compression ignition engine that used the identical platform. Maybe should have changed car to this engine and just kept it as it's not getting much better...

Jon_S_Rally

339 posts

30 months

Wednesday 5th June
quotequote all
PH said:
Because in a market saturated by quite ordinary, transverse-engined, front-drive rivals, the 1 Series always seemed that bit more exotic - that bit more BMW.
Had to have a little giggle at this. The 1-Series has widely been described as being pretty flawed (certainly in M35i/140i form), with slightly shonky damping and a lack of LSD, while the transverse-engined cars are apparently "quite ordinary", despite that segment including the MK3 Megane RS, FK8 Civic Type-R, MK7 Golf R, and numerous others, which are all generally regarded as being blinkin' brilliant. Funny how the facts so often get twisted to suit a narrative in the world of motoring journalism these days laugh

Anyway, I always quite liked this gen of 130i. A friend has one and it's a nice car. I actually prefer it to the M135i/140i in a way. It's a proper small-ish car with big engine. Adding turbocharging seemed to corrupt that somehow, despite the increase in pace. The styling of the original 1-Series is slightly better resolved than the later cars in my view as well.

ChasW

1,907 posts

144 months

Wednesday 5th June
quotequote all
I owned the same model for about a year. Took a while to get used to run flats. Only issues were the wheels are very easy to kerb and the lemon leather very quickly shows wear on the bolsters. Otherwise loved. Engine is ultra smooth. Bought it as AUC from a BMW dealer and sold it for more privately having put 8000 miles on it. 2009 was a good time to help a dealer move stock!

cerb4.5lee

11,573 posts

122 months

Wednesday 5th June
quotequote all
I've always really liked the LE and its colour combo for sure. I just didn't like the stupid chrome trim around the windows and to me it just looks really out of place on this car.

Always been a fan of the 130i with its silky smooth N52 engine and relative compact dimensions, I've never warmed to its looks though but much like my Mini you can't see it when you're driving/enjoying it.

J4CKO

27,487 posts

142 months

Wednesday 5th June
quotequote all
Maybe at 5 grand, not at seven as the cheaper end of the M135i isnt that much of a stretch, got out with 11/12 in your budget and you will get one.


Court_S

721 posts

119 months

Wednesday 5th June
quotequote all
I really like these and don't think that the M Sport variants are actually that bad looking. I'm a big fan of the lemon leather too - had it on my 330 and it wore it's age well with a bit of simple care.

I struggled to find one of these, hence settling on a 330 of the same vintage.

Walshenham

21 posts

110 months

Wednesday 5th June
quotequote all
These are very much on my radar at the moment as my next car.

I had a 330i with the n52. It has to be one of the best engines I have ever used, it’s good at everything ( expect oil consumption. 1L per 800ish miles is apparently “within tolerance”).

Never driven the 130i, but with a Manual box and a smaller body, I bet it’s a laugh.


chriscoates

677 posts

102 months

Wednesday 5th June
quotequote all
Had mine now for just over a year, and echo the comments that these cars seem to get under your skin - I can see myself keeping it for a very long time. I honestly can't think of anything to replace it with - at this point people always say 'well obviously it's the M135i/M140i' but I've driven one of those and while they are on another level to the 130i performance-wise and a great package for the money, they lack the character of the older car.

The one issue with them is they tend to drain your wallet in mods hehe mine now has a 135i backbox for more noise and E92 M3 lower control arms for a sharper turn-in. You can go further with suspension and an LSD but that starts getting very expensive. Oh, and if you buy one, the first thing you must do is bin the run-flats (if the previous owner hasn't done so already - most have).

Also, the N52 - what an engine.



Edited by chriscoates on Wednesday 5th June 09:25

Phil Dicky

5,602 posts

205 months

Wednesday 5th June
quotequote all
Was only considering one of these the other day as a possible track car. RWD and a nice dollop of power, would surely make it a fun drive.

Taylor James

235 posts

3 months

Wednesday 5th June
quotequote all
I had a 330i touring for a while and the fuel consumption was poor for the performance on offer. What are people getting out of the 130?

bodhi

4,599 posts

171 months

Wednesday 5th June
quotequote all
I've been running it's even less well known cousin, a 125i Coupé for 5 years now, and it's been the best car I've owned by a country mile. Bought it on 56k, now on 138k with not much more than routine servicing. It's had a couple of brake calipers and it's going in today to get the ABS Rings replaced, but other than that it's just needed tyres, plugs and fluids.

The 125i has exactly the same engine as the 130i, just detuned from the factory, but speak to a friendly chap with a laptop and it is easily put back up above 130i levels (280bhp is quite common). I've had this done to mine and it is properly quick now - as in incredibly close to an M140i quick. Other main mod I did was to take the fking runflats off and replace them with a set of PS4's. Night and day difference, and I personally now find it to be a great steer. Can feel a touch ragged over the bumps, but that just adds to the fun for me.

I'm probably biased but I even love the styling - of the Coupé anyway. Not sure I'd call it pretty, more imposing for a little car.



It may have to get replaced later in the year depending upon it staying reliable, and grown up stuff like carting friends around and playing golf means I'll probably have to look at a 3 or 4 Series next - but I'm seriously tempted to keep the 1'er to run alongside. In fact if I didn't need the space, I'd be tempted to find a 2013 example and run that instead.