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This is the new 335bhp BMW M140i

BMW’s hot hatch sharpens up for felling the Ford Focus RS

There are frequent arguments about whether ‘hot hatch’ is a relevant term now there are so many 300bhp-plus contenders, new Ford Focus RS among them. Helping resolve that not one jot is this, BMW’s updated fast 1-Series.

The M135i has become the M140i, and in turn the M235i coupe has morphed into the M240i. Those new names don’t indicate a swelling in engine size, but they do mark an increase in power. So both cars produce 335bhp and 369lb ft, up 14bhp and 37lb ft on before.

Those hikes are big enough to cut the 0-62mph time by 0.3 seconds, both cars boasting a 4.6sec sprint if you choose the optional eight-speed automatic. Their CO2 and mpg figures have also improved, with the auto claiming just shy of 40mpg.

Elsewhere, these 40i models are just like the 35i versions they replace: rear-wheel drive as standard (so the M140i will be more naturally drifty than the Focus RS), with a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, now complete with auto downshift blipping. There’s a 10mm suspension drop over other 1-Series and 2-Series models, 18in M-branded wheels and a subtle bodykit.

Two major options are the eight-speed paddleshift gearbox – which is very good, and matches the engine wonderfully – and xDrive all-wheel drive, which is available outside of the UK and drops the 0-62mph time to 4.4sec, as well as putting the M140i right in the court of the Focus RS and Audi RS3 for all-weather ability.

And it’s actually priced a little cheaper than before, too. So the M140i will start at £31,875 (more than the Focus, but considerably less than the £41k RS3), while the M240i will begin at £35,090, making it nearly £5,000 cheaper than the less powerful Porsche 718 Cayman. What do you reckon: bargains?

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