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M135i model tops new BMW 1 Series range. Image by BMW.

M135i model tops new BMW 1 Series range
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What's new?

The BMW 1 Series, that's what, the third generation of BMW's smallest car. And while its introduction means the move from a rear-drive architecture to a front-drive one, we're going to attempt to distract you from that by focusing on the range-topper, the new M135i xDrive.

I'm listening...

As the name indicates, the M135i is what BMW calls an 'M Performance Vehicle', which means it's designed for everyday use to sit between the main 1 Series line-up and, hopefully, a full-on M car of the future. In fact, there's nothing majorly surprising about the M135i's technical make-up, as it shares more or less all of it with the recently launched BMW X2 M35i. So, that means a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine up front, making 306hp at 4,500-6,250rpm and 450Nm of torque at 1,750-5,000rpm. Paired with xDrive four-wheel drive and an eight-speed Steptronic Sport auto, it enables the 1 Series to put in a 4.8-second 0-62mph time, on its way to the obligatory 155mph limiter.

Any good in the corners?

We'll definitively answer that when we drive the new M135i this summer, but the signs are good. For starters, the 1 Series is lighter and stiffer in torsion than its predecessor. Meanwhile, the M135i gets 10mm lower M Sport suspension (with passive dampers and a multi-link rear, like all versions of the new 1 Series), more direct M Sport steering and M Sport brakes, along with a mechanical limited slip differential on the front axle to aid traction.

Speaking of which, BMW has also fitted the new 1 Series (all of them, not just the M135i) with its clever 'ARB' traction control system that it claims feels ten times quicker reacting than before. This pairs up with BMW Performance Control, which brakes the inside wheels in a bend before loss of grip actually happens.

Buyers can upgrade the suspension to Variable Damping Control if they wish, bringing in two selectable levels of damping.

How much for all this goodness?

The BMW M135i xDrive is 36,430 on-the-road, while the regular models start at 24,430 for the 118i, the only other petrol version. Aside from the M135i's unique specification, there are SE, Sport and M Sport trim levels and at launch the diesel model options are 116d, 118d and 120d xDrive.

Shane O' Donoghue - 26 May 2019

2020 BMW M135i xDrive. Image by BMW.2020 BMW M135i xDrive. Image by BMW.2020 BMW M135i xDrive. Image by BMW.2020 BMW M135i xDrive. Image by BMW.2020 BMW M135i xDrive. Image by BMW.

2020 BMW M135i xDrive. Image by BMW.2020 BMW M135i xDrive. Image by BMW.2020 BMW M135i xDrive. Image by BMW.2020 BMW M135i xDrive. Image by BMW.2020 BMW M135i xDrive. Image by BMW.    - BMW road tests
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