BMW M135i xDrive confirmed with 306hp four-pot

Tissues at the ready M140i adorers; BMW has confirmed that its next-generation M-fettled 1 Series will jettison its straight six and use a 2.0-litre four-pot engine instead. The future M135i xDrive’s motor will earn the title of most powerful BMW four with a peak output of 306hp, making it more potent than the VW Golf R and, rather conveniently, identical to the Mercedes-AMG A35. But, as the model name suggests, it’ll drive all four wheels, suggesting the days of a tail happy BMW hatch will close with the M140i Finale Edition.

BMW is promising that its upcoming range-topping 1 Series will have “extremely dynamic handling properties”, however, suggesting it might not turn into a Bavarian take on AMG’s straight-laced A35. M division engineers certainly know how to extract excitement from an all-wheel drive system, although there’s no mention of a lairy, rear-drive mode which features on the M5 and next M3. Perhaps the xDrive hot hatch will offer a rear-biased setting in order to live up the BMW’s claims for dynamic prowess instead.

While the old rear-driven six-pot M140i and its closest predecessors had more power than the upcoming model, the traction advantage and, according to BMW, a more tractable turbocharged engine suggest an M135i xDrive will have better real-world performance. Indeed, the M140i has never been a hot hatch chosen for its outright pace but rather its more traditional powertrain and driveline layout. The two-axle-driven rivals from VW and AMG have more often than not been the quicker point-to-point machines.

Beneath the head of the M135i xDrive’s 2.0-litre engine are new pistons and cod rods, while the motor has also been given a larger turbo. The 1 Series’ electronic stability control has also been completely redeveloped to offer more fun dynamics even when the system’s on. Combined with a significant boost in structural rigidity from the underlying platform, BMW says this’ll all equate to better handling and refinement. The car will also grow in size to give passengers in the back 33mm more legroom and 19mm extra headroom.

The M135i xDrive will be an entirely different beast to the silky, comparably old school M140i, then. We’re expecting big things, of course, and there’s certainly space in the market for a properly playful all-wheel drive hot hatch that can also provide daily duties and remain fairly inconspicuous. So while we’ll all mourn the loss of a rear-driver 1 for years to come, it’s perhaps also exciting to think that the Golf R’s reign might finally be challenged by a lairier German cousin from Bavaria. Don’t you think?

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Comments (186) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Court_S 27 Mar 2019

    I'm sure it'll be better than the last one (faster, more economical, better grip etc) but I'm glad that I've got one on the way with the six pot. The engine makes it for me and helps it stand out from the Gold R, S3 etc.

  • richs2891 27 Mar 2019

    OK so when is the 2 series been replaced ?
    235i with X drive, I would be happy with that !

  • aeropilot 27 Mar 2019

    Who writes this crap for PH now....?

    OP said:
    M division engineers certainly know how to extract excitement from an all-wheel drive system, although there’s no mention of a lairy, rear-drive mode which features on the M5 and next M3.
    Well, they don't really, as M-Division have not produced or worked on a transverse engine, fwd layout platform before......and this new 1-Series is based on the UKL2 platform, the same as the 'big' Mini's, the X1's and 2 Series active tourer stuff, and bears zero relationship to any awd M5 or XM series.

  • Nicholls22 27 Mar 2019

    Had to be done in my opinion. The current M1/240i has so much pace, that it could make it hard to justify the extra spend for an M2. Sure the M2 looks better and will show the difference on a track, but would you see it in normal everyday life?

    At least with this gap in 'out the box' form, there should be a bigger gap when moving from the confusing 'M Performance' to the 'BMW M' range.

  • PerfectDark 27 Mar 2019

    According to Top Gear the XDrive will only send a maximum of 50% power to the rear. Apparently the M135i / M140i only accounted for 3% of sales too which is odd given the rave reviews and near god-like status these things have thanks to some bloke called Chris Harris, and the USP of having a big engine in a practical body with rear wheel drive.

    Thankfully the 2 Series will keep the I6 and RWD formula, but this just sounds like a BMW facsimile of the Golf R / S3 / A35.

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