BMW 135i M Sport: Spotted

When the BMW M135i was launched in 2012 it arrived to such great fanfare that it might as well have been the first car ever to use round wheels, rather than the usual square ones. Somehow, it became the most important real-world performance car for a generation, helped by a glut of glowing reviews and evangelical owners. Plus a handful of suspiciously cheap lease deals.

But years, before that car had even been hinted at, there was another similarly badged BMW that, I reckon, was every bit as interesting. The 2007 135i received none of the hype or hysteria of the later M135i, though, and nor was there any sort of suggestion that it might have born of immaculate conception.

That original 135i M Sport Coupe, to use its full name, was forgotten the very moment the later car was launched and overshadowed entirely by the thumping 1M. In fact, even I, someone who was once pretty damn sure he'd own a 135i at some point, had forgotten the thing ever existed. It was based on the original 1 Series - the one with the slightly surprised-looking headlights - rather than the second generation 1 Series, which spawned the M135i. It was also only ever sold as a two-door coupe or cabriolet, not a three- or five-door hatch.

I was only reminded of the pugnacious little coop when reading about the forthcoming M2 CS earlier this week. That's a car to look forward to. If it does for the M2 what the CS upgrade did for the M4 - namely, give it the body control it always should have had - it'll be a truly brilliant performance car. But if it sells for anything less than £60,000 I'll be amazed.

For the vast majority of us, the M2 CS will go straight onto the 'maybe in five years' pile. But the 135i is well within reach right now, starting at less than £10,000 if you don't mind a slightly tatty one with a few miles behind it. A couple of thousand on top of that will buy a tidy, well-looked after car with around 50,000 miles.

Is the 135i a looker? Not really. It appears a little bit anaemic around the arches in photos, as though it needs a ruddy good feeding, but in the metal, it's actually more attractive. The stubby, rear-wheel drive proportions are at least quite suggestive.

It used the twin-turbo N55 straight six, the one that featured a pair of relatively small blowers to give good response at low revs. The puny M135i only had a single turbo. Rubbish. Peak power was 306hp, which always felt very punchy in what was actually a very small car. (The last few 135is actually switched to the single-turbo N55 engine).

The 135i was really good to drive, too. Nimble, darty, well controlled. A bit slidey if you wanted it to be. And then refined and reasonably practical, too. For £13,000 it seems like an awful lot of car, one that you could actually turn into a cut-price M2 CS if you took it to any number of tuning garages for a power upgrade, a limited slip differential and perhaps some decent springs and dampers.

Completely outshone by a younger sibling. Poor 135i. It's the Jamie Murray of the car world. Mind you, which racket-wielding Scot lasted longer at Wimbledon this year?

: 2,979cc, inline-six turbocharged
Transmission: six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 306@5,800rpm
Torque (lb ft): 295@1,300rpm
MPG: 30.7
CO2: 221g/km
Recorded mileage: 56,000miles
Year registered: 2010
Price new: £29,745
Price now: £13,450

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Comments (86) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Zammy 13 Jul 2017

    Completely missed this one, didn't know it existed either.

  • shalmaneser 13 Jul 2017

    I've been toying with one of these to replace an e36 M3, but stories of knackered water pumps and rattling turbo wastegates are putting me off.

    I think these looking pretty smart in M sport trim with big calipers peeking out from behind the wheels. There's a rather nice looking one in metallic grey with red leather round the corner from my office.

    One of these with a spanish box or an e46 M3? difficult choice. Rattling wastegates or cracked subframe mounts?


    EDIT: The shifter in that car looks like it's seen more than 56k's worth of gearshifts!

    Edited by shalmaneser on Thursday 13th July 12:44

  • Silverbullet767 13 Jul 2017

    The article says the N55 was a twin turbo, the N54 was the twin turbo with the N55 being the single turbo badged twin power I think.

    N54 would be 2007.

  • GTEYE 13 Jul 2017

    Ironically with the standard runflats these do actually drive like the wheels are square...on normal tyres a decent steer

    Edit: Xenons are an absolute must, the standard halogens are borderline dangerous!

    Edited by GTEYE on Thursday 13th July 13:42

  • jelluzz 13 Jul 2017

    N54 was twin turbo, from 07 to the middle of 2010. Around June 2010 they went to the single twin scroll N55.

    N54 was the one with all the issues, wastegate rattle etc. N55's main issue was the plastic water pump.

    Although great cars, this one is poor spec (no xenons, idrive etc.)

    Pick of the range for me would be N55, with the DCT gearbox (N55 only) but then i do own one...

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