This particular review was sent in by Greg Kaufman, long-time MotoringFile and BimmerFile reader.
It ‘s been almost an exact month since I took delivery of my 2008 BMW 135i on May 31, 2008.As a MINI Cooper S owner for just shy of four years – I traded in my MCS for the 1-Series – I have been thinking a lot about the differences and the best way to explain my thoughts.I also took delivery of my car in a somewhat unique fashion – definitely unique for me.I took delivery and then immediately drove North for about 40 some odd miles to an Auto Cross event, my first time doing an AutoX by the way – talk about really getting to know you ‘re car on the first day!
I ‘ve been thinking about the next car I would get upon trading/selling the MINI.I had looked at the 335i and really no other car.It was really only another MINI or a BMW – no other cars out there interested me as much as those two options of manufacturers.I had been reading and hearing about the new 1-Series for quite a while and was intrigued by what I had heard.When I finally saw some pictures of the car, it was definitely not a love at first sight situation.I remember thinking it was nothing special and that it better be priced well below the 3-Series or they ‘d (BMW) have a challenge selling them.Interestingly though, as I saw more photos, watched videos of the car, and read reviews of the car, I got more and more interested and was finding myself more and more fond of the design.So when the car finally hit the States – I live in Chicago – I went to take a look at the car almost immediately.Sadly, I was only able to test drive an Automatic, but I was still extremely impressed and wildly excited to possibly make an order.So I went home and strategically placed the 1-Series catalog in a spot my wife would easily notice so the conversation we would soon have would come up a bit more subtly.Obviously, the conversation went well and I soon made an order for my 135i.
So my more formal research began to identify what options and packages I would want, what color I would want, etc.The price adds up quickly when you load up all the goodies, but I had decided that if I was going to order the car, I was going to only do so if I could get everything I wanted.Fortunately, the resale/residual value of the MINI was – and is – very strong.I got roughly 52% of the sticker price when new on my trade-in.I know I could have gotten more had I sold it privately, but I gave up some of the additional money for the ease and convenience of not having to deal with that.Incidentally, the model I ordered consisted of the following: Base 135i, Jet Black with Coral Red Boston Leather, Premium and Sport Packages.The Comfort Access System, Light Burl Walnut Trim, iPod/USB Adapter, Navigation system and the Premium hi-fi system.The price?Easy enough for one to determine by building their own, but it indeed swelled the total price.In fact, some would argue that for the cost, I should have simply ordered a 335i instead – I obviously disagreed with that view-point.Oh, and what ‘s missing from the options list?The Automatic.I ordered the standard feature of manual transmission.I point this out because this was something that one of the first sales people – at a different dealership – actually tried to talk me out of.Yes, he tried to convince me to get the Auto.In part due to living in – and driving in – Chicago everyday, but also in part (I think so anyways) because he had a greater chance of finding me a similarly spec ‘d 135i at another dealer had I opted for the Auto – versus doing a special order which he ‘d have to wait for to get his commission.I guess it surprises me that this car would be so scarce in the manual transmission spec.When my sales guy searched the system, he found only 29 manual 135i ‘s in process of being built or en route to dealerships in 75% of the US (he did not check the West Coast as transporting the car here would have been cost-prohibitive.Like I said though, if I couldn ‘t get the exact spec I wanted, I wasn ‘t going to pull the trigger.
So, it ‘s been a month since I got the car and have put on a shade over 1,300 miles in that time.I ‘ve been having a blast.The exhaust sounds great, the engine sounds incredible when you accelerate, idle, and even when you decelerate!It ‘s throaty and musical at all times!The biggest challenge initially was getting acclimated to the iDrive system, as this was the first time I owned a car with a system like this.I ‘d played with the iDrive before in friends ‘ cars, at the dealer, etc, but it is definitely different when it ‘s your car.Now that it ‘s been a few weeks, I actually really, really like the iDrive system.It ultimately took me about 4 days of daily use to get the hang of it – to remember what direction to spin the dial, what function is where, etc.I can definitely see where complaints, etc come from; however, it is very intuitive when you actually give it a chance.I am almost at the point of not being able to imagine what it was like before iDrive.
The car does suck gas like a porn star, at least during spirited driving anyway.It ‘s virtually impossible NOT to drive in a spirited fashion though.Therein lies the problem.Would I have not ordered or purchased the car had I known it would burn gas like it is?Nope.I absolutely wouldn ‘t have done anything different.On the highway she – her name is Jessica – gets pretty good mileage.City driving isn ‘t horrible when you consider the power the engine puts out, but when I have to fill up every 175 to 225 miles it does get annoying.But such is life.
Thus far, I cannot really think of anything I would want in the car that doesn ‘t exist.It is actually shocking to me that at no point – so far – have I been driving around and wondered why this isn ‘t here or that isn ‘t there, or why it doesn ‘t do this or why it doesn ‘t do that.In fact, I keep finding myself amazed at how fantastic it is.Now, I am not a designer nor do I have a mind like that – so my viewpoint is likely different than that of some who have a different perspective on such things.Additionally, this is my first BMW.I grew up around big Cadillacs from Detroit.My cars since on my own have been a Pontiac Grand Am, a Nissan Maxima (which I had forever) and then my MINI Cooper S.Incidentally, there ‘s one other car…My wife ‘s car – an Acura TSX – but it ‘s just a car to me.No emotion evoked from it whatsoever.She loves her car though, so that ‘s good.So clearly, there is little comparison to most of the cars in my life.The MINI is a reasonable comparison to make, or at least that is really what I ‘ve been comparing it to the last month or so.
I loved my MINI.It was a running joke among friends and family as to how entrenched in the MINI world I became.I was – and kind of still am – addicted to MINI news and information sites.I have MINI slippers, a MINI coffee mug (well it ‘s kind of faded now), etc.So just the fact that I would even trade in the MINI was a shock to most.I have always loved cars and been a quasi enthusiast, mostly at an admirers level.Buying – and driving – a MINI made me a bit more hands on.I ‘m not mechanical and did not do any modifications to my MINI, but I truly loved that car more than any other car I ‘ve ever owned or driven.The MINI wasn ‘t perfect, but the “issues” were basically things you – or at least I – love to hate.Even having an early 2005 build, there were still cricks and creaks that I ‘d experience.So far in my 135, no cricks and creaks, not a single one, which is great.The build quality of my MINI was great for what it was, but it was definitely not the same as what I ‘ve been experiencing in the last month in my 1.This is not a complaint towards the MINI – for the price and the performance the car was amazing and the best thing I ‘d ever owned or driven.One of the biggest things about the MINI that is no longer an issue was the power band range.As I said, I ‘m not mechanical and somewhat conservative so I never modded my MINI.Had I done so, I know I could have improved the power band range.In the 135 though, I will say the power is ENDLESS.Obviously, this is not a fair comparison; as for one my 135 cost 50% more than my MINI did.Oh, I almost forgot to mention the upgraded sound system.In short – it is fantastic!I was extremely surprised and impressed with the sound quality of a “stock”, albeit upgraded, sound system.It really is a great sound.
Basically, in short, all of the things I loved about the MINI – the handling, the sound, the look, the feel, the emotion it gave me when I started it up and drove – my 1 has.The things that irked me – at worst – about the MINI are resolved in my 1.More power, higher touches or luxury as well as build quality, engineering touches, etc.So for me, this 135i is the perfect blend between what the MINI was and what the MINI wasn ‘t, but that I was craving.This car is not for everyone, that ‘s for sure.Not just based on the cost, but the size may not work for a lot of people as well as the look.It ‘s not something everyone likes – as I said, I didn ‘t necessarily care for it much when I first saw pictures.That ‘s of course changed as I now love the look, but still, not for everyone.Interestingly, another similarity to the MINI is the fact that so many people have no idea what this car is.I have people – especially other BMW drivers – speeding up to me to get close enough to see what the car is!It clearly has the BMW look, but it ‘s so new that it seems not many are aware of the 1 series.When I got my MINI – even four years ago – I had people asking me probably on a weekly basis what it was, what it ‘s like, etc.
So would I ever get another MINI?Most definitely, without hesitation.If I could have pulled it off – without my wife beating me to a bloody pulp – I would have kept my MINI and bought the 135.Right now though, that wasn ‘t a feasible option. But for me, right now, the 135 is the perfect choice.I do get bored easily though, so we ‘ll see what fancies my interest next!