2013 BMW 135i M-Sport

I casually mentioned in passing recently that we traded our E61 530xi Sports Wagon for an E82 135i Sport. While production overlapped between the two chassis, they are really polar opposites when it comes to BMWs. The 5-Series was obvious all about comfort and isolation, as well as carrying a huge load of anything you could throw at it through any weather. The 1-Series sought to return BMW to its more affordable small car roots by shrinking the swollen 3-Series down substantially.

What BMW unintentionally did was to create an E46 successor. The E82s are similarly sized, similarly equipped and were similarly priced to the E46. And in its most basic, most sporty form, the early 135i Sport is on paper a close match for the performance of the third generation M3. Okay, there’s no doubt that the 135i isn’t a M3 when you get behind the wheel. But is it a special car? Yes. And does it move? The N54/55 are rated at 300 horsepower – about 10% shy of the S54. But they’ve got 300 lb.ft of torque, almost about 15% more than the M3 had. And because they’re a turbo motor and they were able to tune that torque curve in, it’s about as flat as the Makgadikgadi Pan. That means roll-on performance, and the 135i rewards you any time you want. The strange thing is, it really doesn’t drive like it is a turbo motor. There’s no lag, no flat spots, no real woosh. It just feels like a very strong high-compression inline-6. And though it won’t corner like a E46 M3, it’s not far off in acceleration or driving feel.

The dash changed and some of the operations are different, but the seats and small greenhouse will instantly remind you of the earlier chassis. Ours is about as basic as they came – 6-speed manual, manual seats, no iDrive, but with a sunroof. But probably the ultimate spec is the late N55-equipped M-Sport and ‘is’ models. They’re quite hard to find even though they’re fairly new. Why is that?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2013 BMW 135i M-Sport on eBay

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2008 BMW 135is

(Editor’s Correction: Though I originally listed this car as a M-Sport, it’s really a 135is with the Sport package. However, the equipment package on this car was renamed for the 2009 model year to M-Sport. This car does feature the upgrade 740 M-Sport suspension.)

Tempting.

It’s hard to judge the performance value of the BMW 135i M-Sport 6-speed as anything other than very tempting in today’s market. Get beyond the styling for a second and look at what this car comes with; stock, the twin-turbocharged N54 inline-6 pumps out an impressive 302 horsepower and matching torque, giving you E46 M3-strata performance. Equipped with the M-Sport package, you got shadow line trim, a black headliner, sport seats, M steering wheel and shifter, M door sills, and the M-sport M264 5-spoke wheels unique to this model. While performance wasn’t turned up, the 1M was no slouch, capable of sub 5-second 0-60 times. Admittedly, it is not the most beautiful product that BMW produced in period, but in gussied-up M-Sport form it is certainly more purposeful than the standard 128i your boss’s secretary ran out to get the moment it was off-lease.

But the real beauty of the 135i M-Sport is the price. Some dip into the mid-teens or occasionally below, but even a pristine one like today’s example hits the market below $25,000. A generation newer than the E46 M3, it offers plenty of sport, reasonable practicality, more affordable repairs and one could argue that it’s a bit of a sleeper compared to the S-motored cars:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 BMW 135is at Coventry Motorcar

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2009 BMW 135i M-Sport

In my search for an E46 M3, there was a nagging voice in the back of my head. As I looked at high prices of nicer examples of the M3, the voice kept saying “what about the E82?” So, what about the E82? In 135i guise, you got some of the styling from the M3 in a smaller chassis even though, generally speaking, it makes the E46 look pretty huge. In overall length, the E82 shorter than even the E30 as amazing as that sounds. But the standard roof height meant that visually the 1 series looked slightly out of proportion. Dynamically, though, that S54 must be a massive trump card, right? Well, again, not so fast, as the N54 twin-turbocharged inline-6 lay under the hood. Sure, it was at a slight horsepower disadvantage, but it makes up for that 33 horsepower deficit with 38 lb.ft more torque – and unlike the S54, that torque is available from under 2,000 RPMs. The result is that at least on paper, the 135i can run step in step with the E46 M3 acceleration to 60, 1/4 mile and 100 are all within a few tenths of each other – certainly enough that the driver could make a difference. And properly equipped, the E82 is a pretty neat looking car, like this 2009 M-Sport package:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2009 BMW 135i M-Sport on eBay

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Feature Listing: 2012 BMW 135i M-Sport 6-speed

This past Tuesday I wrote up what I consider a great alternative to the E46 M3; BMW’s own E82 135i. In many ways, the 135i takes the recipe for the M3 and creates a similar driving experience. But while I really liked the Hartge-modified look of that particular example, for me it ultimately comes down to not only the styling, but the colors. All too often, these cars are ordered in rather unimaginative shades of black, silver, blacker or silverer, and while I understand the appeal of a black car, I’d just prefer something a bit more vivid to stand out. My solution to how to make that 135i more appealing was to option it in one of the more brilliant blues; as if on cue, we were contacted to list this stunning Deep Blue Sea Metallic example of a 2012 E82. Equipped with nearly every package from M-Sport to Convenience, and with some factory options like the power upgrade and special Style 269 optional wheels, this is one trick package:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2012 BMW 135i M-Sport on Autotrader

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Tuner Tuesday: 2008 BMW 135i Hartge

In my ongoing quest to get into a newer BMW, one car that keeps popping up is the 1 series E82 Coupe. The reason why is pretty simple; value. I love cars with the M badge, but it’s sometimes hard to justify the premium, and looking through the E46 market is a bit like one of those Sarah McLachlin-soundtracked mistreated animal commercials. Too many have suffered heavy modifications, mistreatment, and the number of salvage titles must exceed any other specific model – it’s simply amazing. In contrast, many of the 135is are just leaving their first owners as they begin to head into the used car market, meaning there are plenty of examples in good shape, with good owner history and with lower miles. Still, the E82 doesn’t really get me warm and fuzzy; I once described it as a E46 M3 that was in the middle of a 3-car pileup and then repaired by a high-school autobody shop as a project. It just doesn’t look quite right to my eyes, with the bending rocker accentuating the short wheelbase, while the “I’m somewhat surprised” look of the too-large and too-upright headlights begs for some internet meme action. However, once in a while one catches my eye and strikes me as a compelling alternative to a M3. With the twin-turbocharged N54 under the hood coupled to a manual transmission, you got the same feel as the E46 M. Couple that with some attractive visual changes from BMW specialist Hartge along with a bump in power, and suddenly you have a much neater package:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2008 BMW 135i Hartge on eBay

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2011 BMW 135i M Sport

Here we have a very fine example of a car I still think falls into the drastically underrated category despite its reputation amongst those in the know. The 1 Series is viewed by most as a Bangle era failure to modernize the formula that made BMW famous, a tightly packaged two door with a solid powerplant under the hood. While the 128i is no slouch, the 135i with its 300 hp twin-turbo inline-6 is the only spec I’d consider. Add in the M Sport package which gives the car six piston calipers up front, two piston calipers in the rear, a very nice perforated steering wheel/shift knob and super comfortable sport seats. I’ve sat in one of these cars with and without the M-Sport package and in opinion, the M Sport package is a must. Without it the 1 Series appears rather basic, especially the 2008 to 2010 pre-facelift models. Aside from visual tweaks that really tightened up the overall look of the car, from 2011-on the 135i got the N55 inline-6 which used a single twin-scroll turbocharger to make the same power as the N54 and its two turbochargers. While having a twin-turbo motor sounds cool, it’s really just one extra part to worry about. The N55 has less turbo lag, better low rev torque, lower emissions and is more fuel efficient than its predecessor. I’d call that a no contest victory.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2011 135i M Sport on AutoTrader

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2008 BMW 135i

Like many BMW fans, I was hotly anticipating the release of the 1-series stateside a few years back. It was a return to BMW’s roots of making a two door sport coupe in the vein of the 2002, E21 and E30 or at least so we thought. As it turned out the 1-series wasn’t as big of a hit with enthusiasts, so much as it was with folks looking for the cheapest way to get into a car bearing the blue and white roundel. That being said I do have a soft sport for the car, even with its big funky headlights and not so attractive posterior, I think there are enough redeeming qualities to make it worth considering as a daily driver.

A six speed manual coupled with BMW’s N54 inline-6 is one of the best setups a driver can ask for. With the help of twin turbochargers, the motor delivers 300hp to the rear wheels of a 3,420lb car, which is a recipe for fun. The seller of this particular car claims 380hp to the wheels but makes no mention of what gets it there other than an Dinan exhaust. I’m curious as to what other goodies are under the hood or what lines of code have been changed in order to make those numbers. Certainly would have to do the homework on where these parts were installed and of what quality they are, but 380hp in this vehicle sounds delightful. The vehicle has also been dropped an inch though no specific mention of what brand of suspension has been installed and there are the black wheels which I would be quick to get rid of. I’ve seen a 1-series rolling on 17″ wheels with nice meaty tires and let me tell ya, that is a very good loo for this car.

Click for details: 2008 BMW 135i on Cars.com

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2011 BMW 135i Dinan Stage 3

Over the past few years the BMW 1-Series has done a pretty great job of filling the niche for a German, light(ish)-weight, rear-wheel-drive sports coupe. When you take it up in trim to the 135i you get a proper 300-hp turbo mill and even a manual transmission if you prefer to row your own gears. Once you get over the looks, which I find to be akin to a squished-face 3-series, you have yourself a pretty fast and fun automobile. Here we have a 2011 model featuring the single twin-scroll turbo N55 motor that’s been hotted up by Dinan.

Year: 2011
Model: 135i
Engine: 3.0 liter inline-6
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Mileage: 29,382 mi
Price: Reserve Auction, $32,900 Buy It Now

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2011 BMW 135i with Dinan Stage 3 package on eBay

Factory Options:
Power Front Seats (Originally a $995 Option)
BMW Assist with Bluetooth (Originally a $750 Option)
Heated Leather Front Seats (Originally a $500 Option)
Satellite Radio (Originally a $350 Option)

Upgrades:
Dinan Stage 3 Performance Engine Software (Originally $2,199)
-98 More Horsepower and 129 More lb-ft of Torque over Stock
-Increased Boost Pressure
-Software Tune

Dinan High Capacity Oil Cooler System (Originally a $1,399)
-Controls Operating Temperatures with Increased Boost Pressure

Dinan High Performance Intercooler (Originally $1,399)
-Double the Volume of Stock Intercooler
-More Efficient Heat Exchange

Dinan Free Flow Exhaust System (Originally $1,099)
-Reduces Back Pressure
-Increased Power Output
-Sporty Exhaust Note

17″ Motegi Racing MR118 Black Painted Wheels (Originally $648)

Injen Cold Air Intake System(Originally $368)

Tinted Windows

Vehicle Highlights:
3.0 Liter TwinPower Turbo Inline 6 Cylinder Engine rated at 398 Horsepower and 429 lb-ft of Torque
6 Speed Manual Transmission
Sport Suspension
Xenon Adaptive Headlights
-Auto-Leveling
Powered Moonroof
Automatic Climate Control
Glacier Silver Aluminum Trim
CD/MP3 Player w/HD Radio
iPod & USB Adapter
3-Spoke Multi-function Steering Wheel
DSC Dynamic Stability Control
DTC Dynamic Traction Control
Heated Mirrors and Windshield Washer Jets
Cruise Control

Vehicle History:
Dinan Upgrades Installed at Authorized BMW Dealer
Spotless Vehicle History Reports
-AutoCheck Guaranteed
-CARFAX Guaranteed
Includes Original Owner’s Manuals, Original Window Sticker and One Key

A stock 135i is good for a sub-5 second 0-60 making it a seriously quick little car. With the extra 100 ponies from the Dinan upgrades I am sure this thing could keep up with almost anything in BWM’s current M-lineup. Prices for the less troublesome N55 135i’s hover right below the $30K range with this kind of mileage. It appears the seller believes he can recoup some of the Dinan upgrade costs with the higher Buy-It-Now but unfortunately the mods may actually hurt the value of this example.  While the extra power is nice I think I’d prefer it in stock form and am doubtful it will break $30K in the auction.

Similar to the M Coupe, I believe the looks of the squinty 1-Series make it one of BMW’s best kept secrets. A simple resolution in this case would be to replace the Motegi wheels that you’d find on a Honda Civic at your local Burger King meet up with some BBS LM’s or M3 CSL wheels and you’d give the car a lot more presence.

-Ben