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First drive: BMW M140i Shadow Edition. Image by BMW.

First drive: BMW M140i Shadow Edition
Black, black and more black defines the BMW M140i Shadow Edition… oh, and a stunning chassis, too.

 



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BMW M140i Shadow Edition

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

The whole BMW 1 Series range has, like its 2 Series relations, had a minor fettling in order to try and keep it fresh in potential buyers' minds as an all-new model approaches. That means the M140i range-topper gets a new package of equipment and styling, called the Shadow Edition, which should give it additional appeal. And if it doesn't, then the BMW's blinding rear-drive chassis should win plenty of fans, because it remains a wonderful car for enthusiastic drivers.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: BMW M140i Shadow Edition three-door Sport automatic
Pricing: M140i from £33,150; M140i Shadow Edition from £35,785, car as tested £40,070
Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder petrol
Transmission: rear-wheel drive, eight-speed Sport automatic
Body style: three-door hot hatch
CO2 emissions: 163g/km (VED £500 first 12 months, then £450 per annum next five years (if price breaks £40,000), then £140 annually thereafter)
Combined economy: 39.8mpg
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
0-62mph: 4.6 seconds
Power: 340hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 500Nm at 1,520- to 4,500rpm

What's this?

The BMW M140i Shadow Edition, which wears black detailing on the outside - for the kidney grilles, exhaust finishers, door mirrors, LED headlight inserts, darkened rear light clusters and Jet Black 18-inch wheels, although you can have these in Orbit Grey if you'd prefer - and adds new interior equipment. This comprises rear Park Distance Control, an uprated Harman Kardon sound system, sun protection glass and cruise control.

The price for this little lot is £1,335 on top of the standard M140i, and you can have the Shadow Edition pack in three- or five-door formats and with either a six-speed manual gearbox or eight-speed Sport automatic transmission. There are no further changes beyond that, and our particular car was a three-door automatic with additional options taking its list price ever so slightly beyond £40,000.

As well as the Shadow Edition package for the M140i, the entire 1 Series line-up has gained the updated interior from the 2 Series and a few very minor tweaks of the exterior styling. The obvious difference within comes from the addition of the 8.8-inch touchscreen on the top-spec infotainment system (Media Package Professional, a £775 option on this M140i Shadow Edition), with its six-tile main display and latest, sharpest graphics. Really, the 1 Series had its proper, 'full' midlife facelift in 2015, so this is just some minor tweaking to try and boost sales, ahead of an all-new, third-generation model appearing in 2018.

How does it drive?

Following the second-generation 1 Series' launch in 2011, the performance derivative was announced a year later and was badged M135i. It had 320hp from a 3.0-litre twin-scroll turbocharged straight-six petrol, which was increased to 326hp during the 2015 facelift. Barely a year later, though, that 'N55' engine was replaced with another 3.0-litre twin-scroll turbocharged straight-six petrol, now codenamed 'B58' to denote its status as part of BMW's new 500cc-per-cylinder modular engine family.

The inclusion of the B58 saw power rise to 340hp and the hot One's bootlid badge changed from M135i to M140i. And while this sounds like minor alterations in both name and output, nothing could be further from the truth. We always loved the M135i, but the M140i is something else again.

For a start, the engine seems much friskier in terms of throttle response. And despite the relatively lowly point of peak power, it loves to rev. Coupled to the slick self-shifting eight-speed gearbox, which cuts the 0-62mph time from 4.8 seconds on the manual to 4.6 seconds here, performance is almighty and the soundtrack is tremendous. It's only called an M Performance model, but the M140i Shadow Edition goes with the sort of snarling, rabid fury that would befit a full-blooded M car - in truth, the M140i feels like it would give extremely little away to a well driven M2 coupe on the road.

That's because the chassis is a blinder. Even in an era when the M140i is having to face down 300hp+ hot hatch rivals that send power to either the front wheels or both axles, the BMW's beautifully balanced underpinnings allow you to stoke the 1 Series across open country roads in a fashion that's more rewarding than some rivals could ever hope to be.

Great steering and strong brakes further help the Shadow Edition's cause, while a surprising resistance to tail-out antics during large throttle openings in low gears shows how much grip the M140i possesses. Thus, with a wealth of information flooding back to the driver, you can lean on the BMW's prodigious talents and enjoy a rapid, invigorating drive that feels like the hatchback is emphatically shouting at you 'yeah boy! I've still got it!'.

It's therefore a shame we have to knock half-a-star off the M140i overall, which is mainly for its overly firm ride. Even with £515 Adaptive M Sport suspension, the suspension is never anything but busy, even in Comfort mode, while in Sport+ it's just too unyielding for most undulating British B-roads. Strangely, its M240i cousin felt far better resolved in this department. And while the Shadow Edition looks mighty mean in its warpaint, the 1 Series still isn't what you'd call an attractive car. It's not one of BMW's worst efforts in the aesthetic department, but kerb appeal is again another area where the coupe version of this very same car wins hands down.

Verdict

The BMW 1 Series is getting on in years, but even in an age of the astonishing new Honda Civic Type R, the mesmerising Ford Focus RS and the almighty punch of the 400hp Audi RS 3, the M140i Shadow Edition still feels thoroughly relevant. It's talented enough to take it to the big boys and - perhaps - the best choice for those who place handling delicacy above outright pace and on-paper statistics. As hot hatches go, this ageing Beemer remains among the very best of its type.

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Exterior Design

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Interior Ambience

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Comfort

5 5 5 5 5 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 20 Oct 2017









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2017 BMW M140i drive. Image by BMW.2017 BMW M140i drive. Image by BMW.2017 BMW M140i drive. Image by BMW.2017 BMW M140i drive. Image by BMW.2017 BMW M140i drive. Image by BMW.

2017 BMW M140i drive. Image by BMW.2017 BMW M140i drive. Image by BMW.2017 BMW M140i drive. Image by BMW.    







 

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