BMW 135i Q&A (Part 2)

Finally here ‘s part 2 of our 135i Q&A. Questions are in quotes (which are signified by the little red dotted lines) and answers have a big “A ” in front of them. Enjoy.

my question is How would a 128i stack up to a Mini cooper S both had automatics, sorry, not the greatest with the stick and didnt want one in a big city, going from the performance model of the mini to the base model of the bmw seems like i might be loosing out on alot. so gabe, any insight on how the auto 128i and MCS compare? sry for the long write up. but there is much to be said.

A: Both cars aren ‘t as much fun with an auto in my honest opinion. I ‘d say the BMW is taxed less (and it ‘s character hurt less) with the auto than the MINI however.

Did you have time behind the wheel with the 128i? If so, what are your thoughts on that car, especially when compared against the Cooper S?

A: Yes. Very very different car. Not as immediate and the there ‘s less steering feel than in the MCS or the 135i. But both are great cars and both offer very different thrills.

Hey Gabe, how about publishing a quick article giving a simple subjective comparison between the 135i and your JCW MCS? Mostly around handling and performance…?

A: I will do that in a few weeks.

After driving both cars, and not the exact configurations, but with the same price point ~$30k, would you go for a MINI Cooper S Clubman manual w/some great options (LSD, 17″wheels etc) or a 128i manual with heated seats only?

A: The Clubman has so much more utility than the 1 Series that it really is a different kind of car. And both are fun in very different ways. I guess for me the 128i just doesn ‘t feel as special as the 135i and I would have a hard time settling for it. With the Clubman S on the other hand, it doesn ‘t feel like I ‘d be settling at all.

am sure you got into the backseat of the Clubman and the 1 series. From the photo’s it looks like there is a touch more legroom in the 1 series and more rear seat headroom in the Clubman. With the 1 series it also looks like the entry into rear seats isn’t nearly as simple as the clubdoor entry on the Clubman. For a family which do you think would be the more usable space?

A: Hands down the Clubman. I think the 1 Series has maybe an extra inch of legroom in the year but the Clubman has way more headroom and is much easier to get in and out of.

One very specific question… I have an R53 MCS and my FAVORITE part of the car is the steering feel. How was the steering feel of the 135i vs a Mini Cooper S? Could you feel the road just as well?

A: The current MINI generally has better steering feel than the 135i. But there are other intangibles with the 135i that easily make up for that and give it (in some ways) a more satisfying driving experience.

Oh, and the article was great but now that you’ve had a couple of days to calm down… With a clear head, is the 135i REALLY that good?

A: It ‘s been two weeks and I can definitively answer… yes.

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  • Jon

    One thing captures me from this Gabe, you can tell that you still love your Mini but have found that the 135i is enthralling too. Always tough when your affection for a car is split but I personally don’t believe that anybody cannot adore more than one cool automotive offering.

  • Mat

    I don’t understand why everyone wants to compare the new 135i to the MCS or clubman. I have an R53 and I love it, but if I could swap for a 135i I would definitely do it. Totally different beast it seems like.

  • Jon

    I second that Matt.

    The 135i will never have the feeling of a Mini, and the Mini will never have the feeling of the 135i in my world.

    The Mini will be able to get around the corners better than a 135i and the 135i will leave a Mini in the dust on the straights. Also both are aimed at similar base drivers but actually there are differences.

    I love my Mini and have to say while still getting used to the 135i looks can say I would not mind bringing one home. Holding out though for a coupe though to finally be rid of the pesky rear seats 😉

  • I have the feeling the Mini in any form will get housed by the 135. Maybe in tight corners the Mini would have some advantage but being rear wheel and having all that power the 135 would be right there. They are different cars and that is why they are both in the states. I don’t get the fascinations myself. Don’t get me wrong I loved my MCS but there is much more refinement in a BMW.

  • I have the feeling the Mini in any form will get housed by the 135. >Maybe in tight corners the Mini would have some advantage but being rear wheel and having all that power the 135 would be right there.

    It’s an interesting question. In my experience on a track like Putnum Park just outside of Indy, my 2007 MCS with JCW suspension and (at the time) a completely stock drive-train handily drove around every generation of M3 made – including the E46 M3.

    The key with the MINI was the incredible speed it could carry through the corners due (in part) to the power/torque to weight ratio. The M3s (especially the 3500lbs E46) had the ability to power away on the straights but the MINI could out-brake and out-handle the car on any other part of the track.

    I expect a similar scenario playing out with the 135i. But… due to the 135i’s lighter weight and better torque figure I’d expect the result to be either very close or or the 135i to have a slight edge.

  • JeffH

    Gabe, Are you saying that the 135i feels better than an E46 M3? I think the 2 have the same torque figure of 295, the M3 has 33 more hp and only weighs about 200 lb more. Aside from these numbers, the 135i is not really an “M” car, though close. Have there been head-to-head comparisons yet that you know of, or are some coming soon?

  • Feels better is really subjective of course. That said, to me it’s closer to the E36 or even E30 M3 in feel. Less intimidating and more fun to throw around. Same can be said of the E92 M3 vs the 135i.

  • Jon

    Doesn’t really matter which one though is the better car on the track, the weakest part of a Mini and a BMW is usually behind the wheel in my experience lol