®...where your car search begins

BMW M135i Concept Debut

A mouth-burning taste of things to come.

2013 BMW 1-Series Research Click to hide

What's New

Until now, the recently introduced second-generation BMW 1 Series has only been seen as a five-door hatchback, with tiny engines unsuitable for U.S. consumption. But as it's bound to come to our shores next year in coupe, convertible, and likely sedan configurations, BMW has seen fit to endow a concept—read: lightly veiled production car—with a bit more power. Called the BMW M135i, it would replace our 135i coupe with a dedicated sport model slotting between plebeian 1 Series models and the vaunted BMW 1 Series M. It's a three-door hatchback, which we're likely to never see in the U.S., but it has a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-6 that makes about 320 horsepower and a sport-tuned suspension. Those have to count for something.

Who It's For

As far as U.S. consumers are concerned, there's a certain subset of buyers who would describe themselves as ardent Europhiles. We'd like to tell you this is a competitor to the other recent German hatchback to make waves, the Volkswagen Golf R, but it's much more powerful and has rear-wheel drive versus the VW's all-four setup. We're more looking at this as a competitor to Europe's 340-horsepower Audi RS 3 hatchback...which also has all-wheel drive. There aren't many cars with the BMW M135i's combination of luxury, performance, and exclusivity. As the fifth model in BMW's M Performance line (none of which are slated for the U.S.), this bad boy may be carving out its own segment in the States.

Key Features

This little hot hatch is white. It has flashy stripes like something out of the 1980s. But it's fast. Really, really fast. Other things we like about the BMW M135i include:
  • A tuned performance suspension meeting the ground via M double-spoke 18-inch wheels.
  • Flaps in the front bumper that open up to provide more cooling for the car's brakes.
  • Widened wheel arches and fenders to let others around you know they're not messing with any old BMW 1 Series.
  • The six-cylinder engine. Because in a world of downsizing, BMW's still willing to put its big engine in a small car
  • .

What We Think

Our current 135i comes comfortably equipped around $40,000 with a good number of hop-up goodies, including massive six-piston front brakes to slow the car down in a hurry, and a sportier suspension setup. But it's not long for this world, signaled by the fact that the new BMW 1 Series is already on sale overseas. The M135i is likely a prelude to what we'll be seeing our next 135i. It also shows that BMW's M Performance line will not be solely dedicated to diesel models—and we may actually get some of them over here. This car is likely to be an expensive proposition, as most BMWs are, but we can't tell you how glad we are BMW's keeping the six-cylinder 1 Series and how eager we are to see what our model is going to look like.

Back to Auto Show Coverage: Geneva 2012