The natural comparison point to the 135is Convertible I just looked at is, of course, the same year 335is. Indeed, since the two share a fair amount of architecture and a similar recipe, on paper it’s a bit strange that they were offered at the same time. But though the 335is and 135is looked similar, there were actually quite a few differences between the two packages.
For starters, though they were both turbocharged and rated at 320 horsepower, the 335is package retained the N54 motor to do so. I’ve never quite understood BMW’s logic on this one, but clearly there was something about the N54’s power delivery that they felt was superior to the N55 single-turbo. The reserved the higher-output N54s in late production for the 1M (335 horsepower), the Z4 sDrive3.5is (335 horsepower) and the 335is (320 horsepower). The N54B30TO also got a 7 second overboost of 40 lb.ft of torque on top of the 332 that was rated in this car as stock. As I described in the 135i post, the easiest identifier for these cars was the wheels, and on the 335is you got massive yet delicate Style 313 M Double Spoke wheels, 8″ in front and 9″ in rear, with more aggressive offsets than the E8x got. Hunkered down on M-Sport suspension, the 335is also got a unique M aerodynamic body kit, and the transmission was borrowed from the M3, along with additional cooling for the engine. They carried a less restrictive exhaust system. Coupes went so hardcore that, like the 135i, they dropped the foglight option. The convertible variant was apparently judged to be a little less track-ready, as so like today’s Le Mans Blue Metallic example, you could retain the foglights:
Recently, I’ve looked at two BMW 135i M-Sports. It’s a bit easy to be confused by the monikers of various models over 135i production. All 135i models came with most of the sport features that you’d associate with what BMW traditionally had labeled “M-Sport” models, but in the case of the 135i the actual M-Sport name was only given to models with option code P337A, which gave you Style 261 wheels and an anthracite headliner. Making it even more confusing is that when you decode VINs on non-M-Sport models, the term M-Sport pops up in S704A – the suspension – of all 135is.
Ready to be more confused? For its last model year, the M-Sport was dropped and replaced by this model – the 135is denoted by code P7MFA. The 135is had few changes from previous models; outwardly, they are virtually identical to the prior year’s M-Sport. Or, for that matter, they’re basically identical to any other 135i. There are two ways to identify the 2013 outwardly; one is the single “s” added to the back, and the other is the wheels. Like the M-Sport, one main difference was the new S2NFA M Double Spoke Style 313 wheels shared with the 335is. While they were 19″ on the E9x, they were 18″ on the 1 and carried the same size 215/245 tires as the prior years. Dynamically, there was a small change. Still carrying the N55 single-turbo inline-6, the last model year got the bump in power that was optional on 2012s. The remapped ECU gave you 20 more horsepower and 17 lb.ft of torque – not a big gain, but a gain nonetheless.
So here’s a 135is to consider, and since we’ve looked at Coupe 6-speeds the last few rounds, I went for a E88 Convertible equipped with the 7-speed DCT this time:
I don’t usually post newer cars, preferring to write about 80s and 90s machinery instead. That’s because I think many new cars are bloated in looks and overburdened with technologies that blunt the driving experience. But there are a few modern cars for which I’m willing to make an exception, like the E82 135iS. Offered in the US for the 2013 model year only (to make up for the absence of the recently departed, limited edition 1M coupe), the “iS” package added M-sport suspension and bumpers to the 135i, while a tune to the 3.0 liter N55 twin-turbo engine bumped power output to 320 hp (an increase of 20 hp over the standard car). Though some find the E82 a bit stubby, I love the look of the car, with its short wheelbase and squat, compact styling, while the hydraulic steering setup offers a relatively old school, connected driving experience. Sure, it’s not quite the unadulterated formula of BMWs of yore (6 naturally-aspirated cylinders, 5 speeds, 3 pedals) but it comes pretty close, and I think the E82 is a closer spiritual successor to the E30 than any contemporary 3-series.
As popularity of the BMW 3-series doesn’t seem to be waning much even with the
death renaming of the 2-door variant, finding a slick coupe to set up apart from the BMW crowd can be difficult. Outside of the obvious M3 choice, the ZHP models like the one Craig wrote up on Friday are certainly highly prized and priced. When it came to the E46’s replacement, there was no ZHP package offered – bummer. But, late in the run BMW did roll out a very special package with an even more storied connection to the 3er. In 2011, BMW reintroduced the “is” moniker to the top-notch 335 2-door. The new 335is differed from the regular production run in many ways. Replacing the N55 motor was the trusty N54, just like in the 1M. BMW remapped the engine to deliver 320 horsepower and 332 lb.ft of torque channeled through a short-shift 6-speed gearbox or you could opt for the dual-clutch DCT 7-speed from the M3 for repeatable 5.0 second runs to 60. Because it was turbocharged, you also have a 7-second overboost function that gives you another 40 lb.ft in passing situations (or, to show off). The 335is helped to mitigate this additional power with a revised cooling system and heavier-duty motor mounts. The additional cooling meant no fog lights for the coupe, though oddly they could be had on the convertible 335is. Typical M adornments outside meant revised front and rear bumper covers, and the 335is wore unique Style 313 forged wheels measuring a substantial 19×8 in front and 19×9 out back. There were also discrete 335is badges under the side indicators to let drivers beside you know you were in some obscure BMW model besides a M3: