BMW M135i Review & Prices

The BMW M135i is a higher quality and more practical hot hatch than the M140i it replaces, but for many, that won’t be enough to make up for its new smaller engine and all-wheel drive

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RRP £41,880 - £45,220
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Reviewed by Carwow after extensive testing of the vehicle.

What's good

  • Strong performance
  • Entertaining drive
  • Interior quality

What's not so good

  • No longer has a six-cylinder engine...
  • ... or rear-wheel drive
  • Divisive looks

Find out more about the BMW M135i

Is the BMW M135i a good car?

Trading in an older performance BMW to buy the M135i is a bit like skipping your favourite pudding to eat a low-fat alternative. You know that it’s better for you, but somehow the healthy option just isn’t as satisfying.

A few years back, BMW replaced the full-fat, high-sugar M140i with the low-cal, high-fibre M135i. The old turbocharged six-cylinder petrol, rear-wheel-drive BMW M140i was fantastic at combining decent practicality with sledgehammer performance and a smile-inducing drive. Why then, has its successor, the BMW M135i, been given all-wheel-drive and a less-powerful turbo four-cylinder engine?

Well, for better efficiency, mainly, which is a bit boring. That said, its alternatives such as the Mercedes-AMG A35, Audi S3 and Golf R all offer the same recipe of all-wheel-drive traction and turbocharged four-cylinder power, and have proven themselves thrilling to drive too.

The M135i’s new engine means it doesn’t get a long, sweeping bonnet like the car it replaces, but it still packs plenty of angular creases and a prominent grille to make sure it’s one of the sportiest-looking hot hatches around.

Things are a little tamer inside, but the M135’s minimalist dashboard and handsome infotainment display look more modern than equivalents in the old car’s cabin. It’s easy to get the hang of and comes with plenty of bang-up-to-date equipment too, including Apple CarPlay, optional gesture controls and BMW’s personal assistant system. The latter is similar to the ‘Hey Mercedes’ feature in the A-Class.

Less impressive are BMW’s optional digital dials for the driver which are a gloomy contrast to the crystal-clear display you get in Audis and Mercs. All-told, the Mercedes system has the most impressive tech, but BMW’s iDrive has the edge for usability. In terms of interior quality, the M135i and S3’s plastics, trims and switches are so closely matched it’s impossible to choose a winner.

Ultimately, the old M140i is quicker, sounds better and will appeal to petrolheads more. However, this new M135i is more rounded, and an easier car to live with every day

Due to its new engine layout, BMW has been able to redesign the 1-series’ cabin to maximise room for passengers. As a result, there’s more space in all five seats than in the old car so you should be able to carry tall adults in the back in reasonable comfort. The driver benefits from loads of seat and wheel adjustment too. The M135i’s boot is also bigger than in the old M140i, and more spacious than the load bay you’ll find in a Mercedes-AMG A35.

Despite being less powerful than its predecessor, the BMW M135i is hardly a soft touch. Its turbocharged engine produces 306hp, which when sent through its standard eight-speed automatic gearbox and all-wheel-drive means 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds. That’s slower than before, yes, but not slow, and although six-cylinders will always sound better, the M135i still has a pleasing rasp when pushed hard.

And the new M135i is marginally more comfortable over lumps and bumps in town, even with its stiffer, lower sports suspension. It also has a light, precise steering and decent forward visibility for easy urban manoeuvres. Rearwards it isn’t so good, but then, front and rear parking sensors are standard.

Happily, the M135i is also comfortable and quiet on the motorway, but importantly it’s still great fun to thread along a country road, despite its move from rear to four-wheel drive. For some, the 1 Series’ high levels of grip and keen steering will never replace the feel of rear-wheel-drive, but it’s definitely possible to enjoy covering ground quickly.

So, the latest M135i is good to drive, powerful and comes with a high-quality interior. If you like its new looks and don’t care that it’s four-wheel drive, then you’ll love it. But if you’re a petrolhead who fell for the old M140i’s creamy-smooth, even-more powerful straight-six engine and playful rear-wheel-drive setup, this new car may leave you feeling short-changed.

Find out our best BMW M135i prices by browsing through our latest new BMW deals and used BMW cars for sale, and be sure to also check out how you can sell your current car through carwow.

How much is the BMW M135i?

The BMW M135i has a RRP range of £41,880 to £45,220. Monthly payments start at £417. The price of a used BMW M135i on Carwow starts at £21,720.

The M135i costs a lot for a hatchback, even a hot one. But then the likes of the old M140i, the Audi RS 3 and the AMG versions of the Mercedes A-Class have proven there’s a market for small but rapid premium cars. In fact, there are upmarket alternatives to the M135i which cost significantly more.

Performance and drive comfort

Hugely quick, but not as involving as the best rear-wheel-drive BMWs

In town 

For a car of such high performance, the M135i is easy to live with around town. It’s at its best if you upgrade to adaptive suspension, as this allows the driver to select ‘comfort’ mode which is forgiving of potholes and other lumps and bumps in the road surface.

The standard suspension is firmer and sits closer to the road than the suspension of other 1 Series models. It’s more obviously a high-performance set up, less suited to everyday urban driving, but it stops short of being harsh.

There is no manual gearbox, just an eight-speed auto, so your left leg won’t have any work to do in heavy traffic. The automatic ’box shifts gear smoothly. It can be a little hesitant to change down, though, which could catch you out as you go for a gap in traffic.

Light steering helps make parking straightforward. The view over your shoulder could be better but front and rear parking sensors are standard, so this is less of a pain than it could be. Parking Assistant, which is available as a single option or part of the Technology Pack, helps the driver avoid obstacles and includes a rear-view camera.

On the motorway

The M135i is a quick and comfortable tool for long motorway journeys. The suspension is better suited to high speeds rather than pootling around town, keeping the car firmly under control.

Change lanes to overtake and there’s plenty of power to get up to speed, and the gearbox is less hesitant if you put it in sport mode.

For such a rapid machine, fuel economy should be reasonable on a motorway drive – ditching the old M140i’s six-cylinder engine for a turbocharged four-cylinder petrol has to have some advantages. It’s not going to be as economical as a good diesel on a long run but the engine won’t be working hard at all at 70mph in top gear.

On a twisty road 

This is what it’s all about. A hot hatch with over 300hp and a twisty road should be a match made in heaven.

And yet, the M135i doesn’t quite hit the spot. Don’t get us wrong, it’s very quick, hugely grippy, and corners with poise. But it doesn’t deliver that wonderful feeling of being pushed out of a corner that you get from the best rear-wheel drive BMWs. It’s definitely still fun and a very efficient tool for covering ground quickly, but somehow the M135i is not as exciting as it could be.

On the other hand, if it’s wet and slippery you’ll be glad of driving a car with xDrive four-wheel drive. It helps to use all that performance without making a BMW-shaped hole in the nearest hedge.

Space and practicality

Lots of space for a small car, although it’s a shame that lumbar adjustment costs extra

The driver and front-seat passenger have lots of head and legroom. There’s a decent range of adjustment to the seat and wheel too, so whether you are short or tall you should find yourself comfortable. As standard the seats are finished in part-Alcantara and part-cloth. You can upgrade to black or red and grey leather at extra cost if you prefer, but it will cost a four-figure sum and the standard upholstery looks smart enough to our eyes.

Back-pain sufferers will want to order the optional lumbar adjustment. It seems a bit cheap of BMW to make buyers pay extra for this. You can splash out further on electrical adjustment with a memory function – definitely handy if the car will routinely have more than one driver.

Other interior options that are worth considering include a heated steering wheel, part of the Comfort Pack. You can also add a panoramic sunroof if you don’t mind losing a little headroom.

There are twin cupholders at the base of the centre console, and large door bins. There’s more storage under the armrest. So all in all, the front of the cabin is practical and comfortable, especially if you remember to order your M135i with lumbar adjustment.

Space in the back seats

If you’ve travelled in the older 1 Series models you’ll know they were very cramped in the back.

Today’s car is a big improvement. A little more headroom would be nice, but a six-footer should fit without feeling crammed in, and there’s plenty of room under the front seats for their feet. Air vents between the front seats will keep rear-seat passengers cool.

The rear doors open wider than before, which is a big plus if you are trying to fit a bulky child seat in the back.

The seat is very flat, though. It’s almost like a park bench, albeit one that’s upholstered in high-quality materials.

Boot space 

With 380 litres for your bags, the M135i’s boot capacity is much as you’d expect from a hatchback of this size. If you want a hot hatch with more room for luggage, take a look at the Skoda Octavia vRS, although this isn’t as quick as the M135i and lacks a prestige badge. The BMW is slightly ahead of the Mercedes A-class AMG A35 hatchback, while the Audi’s S3 hatchback is only at 325 litres. 

There’s some useful underfloor storage, and only a small load lip to lift bags over.

A 60:40 split rear seat is standard, but buyers can opt for a more flexible 40:20:40 split at extra cost. This makes it a lot easier to carry two passengers in the back and still have space for long items like skis or snowboards.

Interior style, infotainment and accessories

It can’t match the ‘wow’ factor of a Mercedes-AMG, but the M135i is very well made

If you’re going to spend hours behind the wheel, you might as well do it somewhere with a modern design and a high standard of finish. You could certainly do a lot worse than racking up the miles inside a BMW M135i.

You aren’t struck with the immediate visual impact of the twin-screen cockpit of a Mercedes-AMG A-Class, but the BMW’s cabin is better finished. Everywhere you look, and everything you touch, is made of luxurious materials that seem built to last.

Straight ahead of you, there’s a digital display instead of conventional dials. We’re not fans of the way the rev counter seems to move backwards, and the screen is a bit dark. You also don’t have quite the same scope to personalise the display as you’ll find in hot hatches from Audi and Mercedes. But go back and sit in any car with conventional dials and it will look years out of date compared with the M135i.

In the centre of the car but angled towards the driver is the 10.3-inch screen for the iDrive infotainment system. The easiest way to control it on the move is to use the rotary control and shortcut buttons near the gear lever. You can scroll through menus and make selections without having to take your eyes from the road for long. Prod at the screen if you prefer, but we only tend to do this when the car is stationary.

Gesture control is available. If you’ve seen his video, review Mat loves this feature, although not everyone will agree with him. It takes a while to get the hang of which gestures do what, and once the novelty wears thin you’ll probably go back to using the iDrive controller.

However you choose to control it, iDrive is one of the best systems around. It’s compatible with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

MPG, emissions and tax

The siren-song of the old model’s six-cylinder engine has been sacrificed for the sake of better economy and lower emissions.

To be fair to the turbocharged four-cylinder engine, there’s still a pleasant rasp to the exhaust and it does achieve good economy for an engine with 306hp. According to the official figures, you can expect 35.8-38.2mpg.

The thing is, not many people buy a car with a 4.8-second 0-62mph time and then drive as if their driving instructor is in the passenger seat. You’ll need restraint and a gentle right foot to match the official fuel economy.

Carbon dioxide emissions range from 168-179g/km, which is low for a performance car but relatively high for a small hatchback.

The first year’s Vehicle Excise Duty is swallowed up in the price of the car, but for the following five years M135i owners will pay the higher rate of Vehicle Excise Duty.  That’s because the BMW costs over £40,000, and all cars costing more than this amount are subject to an extra charge.

If you are looking at the M135i as a company car, then it’s far from the most tax-efficient choice as it sits in the top 37% bracket.

Safety and security

The BMW 1 Series scored five stars out of five when tested by Euro NCAP back in 2019. It picked up a rating of 83% for adult occupant protection, and 87% for child occupant safety. The scores for pedestrian protection and safety assistance systems were 76% and 72% respectively.

You can choose to add more driver aids by opting for the Driving Assistant pack. This adds lane departure warning with blind spot detection, as well as an uprated autonomous emergency braking system that can detect pedestrians as well as cars. Rear crossing-traffic warning, which warns the driver if they’re at risk of a parking bump while reversing out of a space, is also part of this pack.

Reliability and problems

BMW tends to be a midfield finisher in customer satisfaction and reliability surveys. The 1 Series has so far performed better than most BMWs, so it’s a car you can buy quite confidently.

Just like a Mercedes-AMG A-Class, the M135i comes with a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty. The unlimited mileage policy is more generous than the cover Audi offers with the S3 and RS 3, which lasts for three years but is limited to 60,000 miles.

Buy or lease the BMW M135i at a price you’ll love
We take the hassle and haggle out of car buying by finding you great deals from local and national dealers
RRP £41,880 - £45,220
Carwow price from
Ready to see prices tailored to you?
Compare new offers Compare used deals