Replacing the old M135i and M140i was always going to be a difficult task for BMW, for a whole host of reasons. And while the M135i xDrive that resulted was decent enough, it lacked some sparkle that marks out the great hot hatches from the good ones. A point proven a little while after launch with the introduction of the 128ti; with less power and just front-wheel drive, it was a more engaging driver's car.
Now BMW is revising its 1 Series flagship, presumably with the aim of making it more fun to drive. Certainly it's going about things in the right way: this new M135i gets more negative camber on the front axle, a recalibration of springs and dampers, new mounts for arms and wishbones and "specially tuned" M sport steering. It also now uses the traction control system found in the 128ti and Mini Electric, with "near actuator wheel slip limitation integrated into the engine control unit." Which still doesn't make much sense to simpletons like us, but from real world experience it means swifter, more precise traction control. With the M135's standard xDrive and front limited-slip diff, it should make for an experience a world away from the old RWD hooligans. Whether that's a good thing or not will be up to you...
Though the 2.0-litre, 306hp turbo engine remains unchanged, BMW is promising a "dramatic acoustic experience in the cabin" thanks to an exhaust with reduced back pressure and some manipulation through the speakers. In fact, we're told the car now conveys "the signature four-cylinder engine note of a BMW M model to those on board more authentically than ever." Though this M135i wouldn't have to sound an awful lot better than before to achieve that, it's an interesting promise.
Finally, BMW has introduced a few new paint finishes for its M Performance hatch; seen here is Sao Paulo Yellow (as debuted on the M4), with Frozen Orange and Frozen Pure Grey also available. BMW has even gone so far to introduce Individual paint options for this facelift, with the paint shop at Leipzig expanded to cater for any and every request. Some might argue the 1 needs more than expensive paint to look stylish, but there we are.
With the M135i update only just announced, we're not expecting cars in Britain until 2022. Don't be surprised if the price creeps up ever so slightly from the current £37,700, either. Until then, there are F40-era cars for sale at a little more than £30k (and there are dozens available), but these new upgrades sound worth waiting for. Don't forget the 128ti, either, because it really is quite good - this one is £35k.
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