Perhaps the most read review on BimmerFile has been our first piece we did on the BMW 135i. The car has often been called a reincarnation of the 2002tii. While we could go always wax poetically about the 135i, I wanted to take another look at the car a year later without the hype and the pretense the surrounded its introduction.
Our 2009 135i test car came equipped with the sport package, cold weather and convenience. At $43k it was about in the middle of what you would expect for the 135i moderately equipped. Driving the car for the first time in awhile was a bit more eye-opening than I expected. For starters steering feel is not (and never was) a strong suit of this car. While the mechanical steering rack in the 135i is an improvement over the electric one found in 128i and other iterations of the 1 its feedback is decidedly less than what you ‘d find an on M3, let alone an E46 ZHP or any number of previous generation 3 Series. The steering is as weighted as you ‘d want but simply doesn ‘t have the feedback that you ‘d expect given the feel of everything else associated with the car.
The 135i still manages to impress. The much talked about oversteer is clearly evident when pushing the car to its limits. But there is little question in my mind that the 135i is still the car it was on that magical first drive. It ‘s simply as fun to drive now as it was then. While steering feel may not be at M3 (or even previous 3 Series) levels, it doesn ‘t effect the performance or handling. Eager with good turn-in and seemingly endless torque, the small coupe is much of what made the 2002 and E30 classics. But this time that is mated with enormous power, relative comfort and the flexibility you ‘d expect to find in a modern BMW.
Is it still more engaging than the E90 era M3 as I stated a year ago? Yes and no. In many ways the car ‘s abilities are much more accessible and in turn I would argue more immediately enjoyable than the M3. Yet it doesn ‘t have the presence nor the sense of occasion that the V8 M3 is endowed with.
And then there ‘s the fact that the new 1 series is almost on the horizon. In late 2010 BMW will introduce an entirely new generation of the 1 and with that the rumored “supersport ” version of the 1 Series coupe coming a year or two later. How this current 135i will stack up against that car remains to be seen. But if rumors are true, there certainly is a lot to think about for those considering a small BMW coupe in the next 1-2 years.[pictobrowser motoringfile 72157614270059188]