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
First registered: 2007
Recorded mileage: 87,000
Price new: £30,270
Yours for: £6,995
1 / 5