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


Year: 2013
Model: 135i M-Sport
Engine: 3.0 liter turbocharged inline-6
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Mileage: 56,295 mi
Price: $26,997 Buy It Now

2013 BMW 135i M Sport

Finished In Glossy Alpine White With Tan Leather Interior

M Sport steering wheel

RARE 6 SPEED MANUAL TRANSMISSION

Anthracite Headliner

A Direct-Injected, 300HP Turbocharged, 3.0-Liter, Inline 6-Cylinder Engine

Gloss White Mirrors

M Sport Package – 337

• Anthracite HEADLINER
• 18″ Alloy Double-Spoke Wheels
• M Steering Wheel
• Glacier Silver Aluminum Trim
• Sport Seats
• SHADOWLINE Exterior Trim

M Sport Package – ZMP

Premium Package – ZPP

• Auto-Dimming REARVIEW Mirror
• Satellite Radio w/1 Year SUB.
• Universal Garage-Door Opener
• Auto-Dimming Mirrors
• Interior Mirror With Compass
• Ambient Lighting

Technology Package – ZTP

• Bmw APPS
• Bmw Assist With BLUETOOTH
• Online Information Services
• Real Time Traffic Information
• Navigation System
• SMARTPHONE Integration

• Xenon Adaptive Headlights -inc: Auto-leveling, Cornering Lights

• V Spoke (Style 372) Light Alloy Wheels, 18 x 7.5 Front, 18 x 8.5 Rear -inc: P215/40R18 Front & P245/35R18 Rear Run-Flat Performance Tires

Powdercoated Silver Brakes With White BMW Script

Push Button Start

N55 Motor

• Rear Spoiler
• Heated Dual Power Mirrors And Heated Windshield Washer Jets w/Mirror Memory
• 2-Way Power Glass Moonroof w/One-Touch Operation, Sliding Interior Sunshade
• Rain-Sensing Windshield Wipers And Automatic Headlight Control

• Auxiliary Audio Input For Portable Music Players Located in The Center Armrest
• iPod And USB Adapter
• Bluetooth Wireless Technology For Hands-Free Calling
• HD Radio -inc: Multicast FM Station Reception

Professionally Tinted Windows For Privacy

Professionally Detailed Inside&Out

All Service Is Up To Date

Books&Keys

No Paint Work

Clean CarFax – Clean AutoCheck –
Packages
M Sport Package – 337

Anthracite HEADLINER
18″ Alloy Double-Spoke Wheels
M Steering Wheel
Glacier Silver Aluminum Trim
Sport Seats
SHADOWLINE Exterior Trim

M Sport Package – ZMP

No Option Detail

Premium Package – ZPP

Auto-Dimming REARVIEW Mirror
Satellite Radio w/1 Year SUB.
Universal Garage-Door Opener
Auto-Dimming Mirrors
Interior Mirror With Compass
Ambient Lighting
Comfort Access Keyless Entry

Technology Package – ZTP

Bmw APPS
Bmw Assist With BLUETOOTH
Online Information Services
Real Time Traffic Information
Navigation System
SMARTPHONE Integration
V

E82 sales were slow compared to E9x sales, and it all came down to price. BMW packaged most of a 3-series into a smaller body, but ‘most’ also included the MSRP. Spec out a 135i and you were within a few thousand dollars of a more luxurious, more spacious, and what most felt was a more attractive 3-Series coupe. And this particular 135i M-Sport is about as spec’d out as you can get. Dynamically, there are few differences between this one and our early basic example. The motor changed to the twin-scroll single turbo N55 for less complexity and slightly better power delivery, and the LCI changes included revisions to the headlights and taillights which made them a bit more fussy. Underneath it all, though, the same package remained – electronic rear diff, M-Sport suspension, 6-speed manual and the inline-6 up front. You couldn’t get xDrive on these cars unlike the 3, but on later examples you could get the 7-speed DCT transmission. This one doesn’t have it, and for purists that’s probably a plus. All ‘normal’ 135is came equipped with the Sport package, which included the M-Sport steering wheel, shifter, sport seats, Shadowline trim, M-Sport suspension and 18″ wheels, monster 13″ 6-piston Brembo brakes, along with more aggressive front and rear facia, rockers, Xenon headlights and twin-outlet exhaust. The M-Sport package (I know, BMW gets confusing with this) didn’t add those things, but you switched from Style 264 wheels to Style 261, and you got an anthracite headliner. That’s it.

We looked for a 1 for a long time, and had a few criteria. It had to be a Sport package-equipped car, which is very hard to find in a 128i, but obviously requisite with the 135i. It also had to be a manual. I searched for months and found only 1 128i for sale that matched that. More surprising, I didn’t find many 135is, either. Sure, they’re out there, but then usually so are the prices. Most sellers want nearly 50% more than an equivalent 335i Coupe. Our last criteria was that we didn’t want a black over black one, and that also narrows the pool down.

This Alpine White over tan example would fit our search terms, but certainly it’s far from affordable like most of the 135is I looked at. At nearly $27,000, you’re on par with this car’s replacement, the M235i. I found a single-owner 17,000 mile 2015 6-speed for only $2,000 more than this car. One of the things that I really love about the 135i is that it’s a bit different than anything else out there. It’s instantly recognizable as a BMW, but it doesn’t look just like every other BMW out there. But as much as I like it, I’m not sure I’d pay a 50% premium over a similar 3-series for a used one.

-Carter

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4 Comments

  1. It wasn’t even an E46 successor. They are more akin to an E36 or E30. I have several friends who have owned 1 series (including a 1M) and compared to the 3 series, it’s a completely different vehicle. We also have a huge E30 collection (every body style offered except a Baur), so I think we are fairly knowledgeable in the comparison.

    The problem was marketing. But also BMW in general. They have become so bloated with features and garbage, that they lost what made them “Drivers Cars”. This was probably the last of that heritage. Even the M2 is dull and bloated when compared to the 1 series. The people who bought them, knew what they were getting and bought them for a reason. Problem is, in the future, you’re going to have a hard time finding examples that haven’t been driven hard (enjoyed).

  2. Good write up! Always interesting to hear owner’s perspective. I’m sure it’s a fun ride especially with the 6spd.

  3. Does it have a real rear differential or is just using the brakes?

  4. @Robert – the both the 135i and 335i do not have mechanical rear differentials. Only the M products from the period did. Even the 335is had the electronic rear diff. I haven’t hung the tail out on either the M3 of the 135i, but from what I’ve read the e-diff is pretty successful at stock power levels. Even magazines reported doing power slides on track.

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