Sports Car of the Year: M135i vs Boxster
Two cars divided opinion so much that they required one last test. Stand back, and release The Stig...
Posted: 11 Jan 2013
That's not to say the BMW hasn't got skills though. The M135i sits between the M Sport styling and suspension grade and a full-on M car, niching itself as M Performance. So it gets bespoke suspension, the tweaked engine, big brakes and a few other bits that make it stand out. It translates as a car that's softer and easier to handle than a full-on M, but much punchier than you expect. Which makes it a real road weapon - soft enough to cope, fast enough to scare yourself silly if you feel like it. It's good on the track too, though the variable-rate steering - standard on the M135i - can give mixed messages when you're flippering madly from high-speed, looping S-bends to tight chicanes. It also feels slightly numb - there's a surprising lack of understeer, followed by easily provoked oversteer, but it might be even more fun if you knew more instinctively what those front tyres were up to. It's supple on road, but unsurprisingly feels a little soft even in Sport Plus mode on track, still with sticky-footed levels of grip if you try to be neat. But it's noisy and up for it, laugh-out-loud fast and fun. In a way that it never looks like it will be. It is, for all the BMW cliches, a proper little demon and absolutely brilliant.