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On the road Hot-hatch swan song? The brilliant new M140i is put through its considerable paces. The next generation 1 Series will be based on a front-wheel drive platform which means that, as Bob Harper reports, this M140i could be the last of BMW’s rear-wheel drive hatchbacks Photography: BMW.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationBMW F21 120d M Sport / #BMW-F21 / #BMW-120d-M-Sport / #BMW-120d-M-Sport-F21 / #BMW-F21 / #BMW-120d-F21 / #BMW / #BMW-1-Series / #BMW-1-Series-F21 /
As I write this I only have three weeks left with the 120d, which will take me up to 11 months of ‘ownership’, so it’s a little bit of a shame that I couldn’t enjoy a full year with it but that’s just how it goes. I’m not being left in the lurch, though; as I type, my 630i has been collected from a Preston auction and is awaiting a thorough, two day detail at the hands of Ian of Lullingstone Cars (lullingstonecars.co.uk), who sourced it for me, before delivering it to me where it will begin its new life as my ‘sensible’ daily.
My E39 is also coming home after a 16 month absence and dramatic makeover, so while I will miss the 120d I will have two cars to keep me busy. If you want to follow the E63’s journey with me then you’ll have to pick up a copy of Performance BMW as it will be standard for about 30 seconds before I begin to ‘ruin it’, as Bob so amusingly puts it.
Not much to report on the 120d; it ferried myself and a photographer over to a shoot in Reading without any fuss, swallowing all of his paraphernalia with relative ease, and it proved to be as comfortable and capable a companion as it ever has been. Next month I’ll swap back to the original wheels and tyres, which will thankfully get rid of the tyre pressure warning bong, and bid it farewell with some closing thoughts, one of which is that this might well be the last diesel I ever own, which is food for thought.
TECHNICAL DATA FILE BMW F21 120d M Sport
Mileage this Month: 547
Total Mileage: 7905
MPG this Month: 54.8
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- Post is under moderationBMW-F21 / BMW-120d-M /
I took the 1 Series through a car wash. I don’t condone it, it’s definitely a case of do as I say not as I do, and what I say is wash your car by hand using the two bucket method but, when it’s cold and wet and dark and miserable and your car is so dirty that you can barely open the doors or boot and is white so looks about 1000 times dirtier, you get desperate. What’s a girl to do? Pay £3 and take it through the car wash at the local Sainsbury’s, that’s what. I didn’t even choose the drying option because the roads were wet so I figured it was pointless and when I came out of the petrol station shop brandishing my car wash code I discovered it had started raining anyway, rendering it even more pointless. The person in the Merc having a wash and blow dry in front of me looked a bit silly. And you know what? It was worth every penny, all 300 of them. The 1 Series came out looking clean and I could open the doors and boot without getting covered in filth. Also my mum had never been through a car wash before so she was intrigued by the whole affair. Is it wrong to admit that you find car washes a little scary? She didn’t, but I do. I just don’t like the noisy pounding. It’s unsettling. I wouldn’t dream of taking the E39 through but, with its solid white paint, I figure the 120d is less likely to show up scratches and swirl marks.
In other news, the 120d is doing something the 118d didn’t, and that is managing to stay dry inside. The 118d had a chronic moisture problem, with the windscreen absolutely covered in water droplets when the temperature started to drop, which would then freeze on particularly cold nights, and ice on the inside of your windscreen is not something you expect in a brandnew BMW. My Camaro does it, but that’s because it’s terrible at being a car and was built for about 50p. We never did get to the bottom of it, but it wasn’t an isolated case as a few people got in touch with the same problem but now I have a solution that I can guarantee will work 100 per cent: sell your leaky old 1 Series and buy a face-lift. Job done.
CAR: F21 120d M Sport / #BMW-F21 / #BMW-120d-M-Sport / #BMW-120d-M-Sport-F21 / #BMW-F21 / #BMW-120d-F21 / #BMW / #BMW-1-Series / #BMW-1-Series-F21 /
MILEAGE THIS MONTH: 390
TOTAL MILEAGE: 6435
MPG THIS MONTH: 45.9
COST THIS MONTH: £3 (car wash. Sorry)Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationHOT STUFF M140i DRIVEN
We get behind the wheel of BMW’s hottest non-M hatch.
It might be living in the shadow of the M2 but the M140i is almost as much car for a lot less money. Words: Elizabeth de Latour. Photos: Gus Gregory.
What’s great about driving the M140i is that your expectations are kept at a very reasonable level. We remember the #BMW M135i blowing us away when we first sampled it, and that too was approached with enthusiasm but few expectations. Since then the M2 has come along and while 35i has become 40i across the board, accompanied by an increase in power and performance, it’s merely a warmed- up 1 Series compared with its big-arched, fullblown M cousin.
So why is it that driving this unassuming M140i has left us baffled? It just feels so fast. We were expecting it to feel fast because it is fast, but not this fast. It actually feels faster than the M2, which seems as bizarre, but that’s the sensation you get from behind the wheel. The reasons for the M140i’s surprising turn of pace are twofold. First, the gearbox. The nowfamiliar eight-speed unit is as good today as it was when we first sampled it, shifting seamlessly between ratios when left to its own devices and delivering near-instant upshifts and downshifts when operated in manual mode. It’s always in the right gear for any given situation and, in the unlikely event that it’s not, it’s always eager to drop a gear or two, which means that every time you prod the throttle you’re rewarded with an immediate response from the engine. The manual, which was fitted to the M2 we drove, is great but the auto is faster.
The second reason why the M140i feels so quick is to do with the numbers it’s putting down. With 340hp it’s 30hp down on the M2 but, where the latter develops peak power at 6500rpm, the M140i makes peak power 1000rpm sooner. What really makes a difference, though, is the torque; normally, the M2 produces 343lb ft of torque, with this rising to 369lb ft under full throttle when overboost engages, but the M140i makes 369lb ft all the time. That 26lb ft advantage comes into play much earlier than the M2’s 30hp advantage and it means that, even under light throttle openings, the M140i feels massively eager and hugely responsive. In absolute terms, the more powerful M2 is quicker but the difference isn’t one you’d notice out in the real world.
The dramatic 1 Series face-lift has resulted in a more universally appealing car that’s more elegant and dynamic than its chubby-cheeked predecessor. And the M Sport additions certainly give it a sense of sculpted muscularity.
But in reality it’s an unassuming car. Yes, it wears 18s and has a smattering of Ferric grey details across the exterior but, at the end of the day, it’s a narrow body five-door hatch. And while there are hints of what it might be capable of, it’s really not a million miles away from an M Sport diesel. The vast majority of other road users won’t know or care what you’re driving, which means you can make discreet progress and have fun without being bothered.
And that’s a good thing because this is a car you will be having a lot of fun in. Beyond the outright performance, the chassis is sharp and the M140i feels wonderfully crisp and responsive. The brakes are consistent and strong and the whole package feels wonderfully complete, inspiring confidence and encouraging you to drive it quickly like few other cars.
At about £10k less than the M4, the M2 is an exceptional machine and offers astonishing value for money but, at about £10k less than the M2, the M140i is no less of an exceptional machine and also offers incredible value for money. In the real world, the M2’s performance advantage is moot and it’s the M140i that feels the quicker of the two; it might not have the looks, but it has just about everything else you could want. If you’re not a fan of the M140’s five-door body style, you could opt for the three-door or even the M240i, but the fact that you can have all of this performance wrapped up in a practical five-door package is definitely part of the appeal… and the M140i is a most appealing car. Whether or not you’d choose one over an M2 is something you need to work out for yourself. The M140i’s existence doesn’t suddenly make it difficult to recommend buying an M2, but it certainly does make you question buying anything else at this price point.
DATA FILE #2017 / #BMW-F20 / #BMW-M140i / #BMW-M140i-F20 / #BMW-1-Series / #BMW-1-Series-F20 /
ENGINE 3.0-litre straight-six #N55B30 / #BMW-N55 / #N55 /
TRANSMISSION Six-speed manual, optional eight-speed automatic #ZF8HP
WEIGHT (EU) 1525kg (1550*)
MAX POWER 340hp @ 5500rpm DIN
MAX TORQUE 369lb ft @ 1520-4500rpm DIN
0-62MPH 4.8 (4.6*)
TOP SPEED 155mph (limited)
EMISSIONS (C02) 179g/km (163*)
FUEL ECONOMY (MPG) 36.2 (39.8*)
PRICE £32,405 (*) denotes automatic transmissionStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationF21 120d M Sport
You may have noticed that it’s been getting cold recently. In fact the temperature change really snuck up this year; one moment it seemed unseasonably warm for autumn and then suddenly it was very cold indeed and the 120d’s temperature display was showing some very small numbers of a morning.
Partly due to bad weather, a string of busy weekends and thinking that I had plenty of time to get my winters on, I invariably didn’t, meaning I was left with the 1 Series feeling a little light on traction on damp and slippery autumn days. I hastily made arrangements with my local, and really rather excellent, village garage to pop in one Saturday and get it to quickly swap my wheels over. I do have all the gear (trolley jack, torque wrench etc) but I honestly couldn’t be bothered to spend a cold Saturday morning messing around with wheels.
When it came down to winter rubber, I was spoilt for choice as I have both my Conti-dedicated winters from a few years ago, along with my Michelin CrossClimate all-season tyres that I ran on the 118d for about a year or so. I would have preferred to run my Contis, simply because they’d only be performing winter duties, but seeing as the CrossClimates were already mounted on the set of 17s I had been running them on previously I decided that for the sake of simplicity, (and not having to pay to have a set of tyres unmounted and new ones mounted) I would just go with the CrossClimates. I was very impressed with their performance previously so was more than happy to have them on the 120d.
Typically, the weather since having them fitted has been pretty mild again but I’m glad they’re on as it means that when the cold snap does come, which it’s due to any day at the time of writing this, along with the generally grim winter weather I’m fully prepared.
TECHNICAL DATA / #BMW-F21 / #BMW-120d-M-Sport / #BMW-120d-M-Sport-F21 / #BMW-F21 / #BMW-120d-F21 / #BMW / #BMW-1-Series / #BMW-1-Series-F21 /
MILEAGE THIS MONTH: 677
TOTAL MILEAGE: 6045
MPG THIS MONTH: 52.6
COST THIS MONTH: £10 (getting wheels swapped over)
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- Post is under moderationF21 120d M Sport
I was going to say that it’s been a quiet month for the 120d but, having looked at my diary I have realised that it served as transport for a shoot in Berkshire that I’d completely forgotten about and then there was the small matter of a trip to Telford and back for the last big show of the season, so I guess that’s a reasonable amount of activity and miles this month.
With the rear seats folded down, you can fit a lot into the 120d’s rear end but getting to it all can be slightly tricky and you have to attack it from both ends of the car, flipping the front seats forward to try and pull some bits out that way and then half-clambering in through the hatch to get other stuff out that way. I will say that the practicality of my five-door 118d is often missed, be it when I’m out shooting, out shopping or ferrying wheels, tyres or both about. But it’s a small price to pay for the three-door’s far sharper looks and as I don’t do that many things too often that require the use of the car’s entire available load space, it’s not that big a hindrance.
The trip to Telford was an absolute nightmare in both directions, with nothing but traffic, road works and speed limits – it was just generally awful and made me both stressed and angry. The 1 Series was really great, though, and I was genuinely amazed to emerge at the other end after three and a half hours in the car with no aches or pains.
The car isn’t in any way cosseting or luxurious and the seats are sporty and supportive but very far removed from the fanciest 5 or 7 Series offerings. They don’t even have lumbar support, which I’ve always considered almost essential, often experiencing lower back pain in cars without it. But, somehow, they manage to be incredibly comfortable; I guess they are just the right shape for me and sometimes that’s more important than having 200-way adjustment.
The miles and miles of stop-start traffic did make me think that the journey would have been a little more pleasant with an auto and while I lamented the lack of cruise control in my 118d, I now find myself wishing I had Active Cruise Control as it would definitely take the stress out of driving in heavy traffic at varying speeds.
Also, while I’m very pleased to have sat nav as standard in the 120d, it’s not without its flaws; it did its best at trying to get me round the worst of the traffic, but I can’t help but feel that Google Maps on my phone would have done a far better job and had me home a lot more quickly. The sat nav also flashed up ‘Dangerous Traffic Situation’ for a while, which kept appearing on the dash display and which refused to go away, but there was no way for me to actually find out what this meant and where it was on my route. Considering I was in a sea of traffic at the time it was hardly news to me; a quick Google has revealed that it seems to relate to heavy traffic conditions and specifically when there’s been an incident involving another car, but I can’t say that I found it very useful.
/ #BMW-F21 / #BMW-120d-M-Sport / #BMW-120d-M-Sport-F21 / #BMW-120d-F21 / #BMW / #BMW-1-Series / #BMW-1-Series-F21 /
MILEAGE THIS MONTH: 753
TOTAL MILEAGE: 5368
MPG THIS MONTH: 49.3
COST THIS MONTH: NilStream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationFast Track / #2016 / #BMW-F21 / #BMW / #BMW-1-Series / #BMW-1-Series-F21
Advanced Driving Consultant, #Rob-Colbourn, teaches us how to better our driving techniques on track with a Performance Driving Course. He can do the same for you… Words: Simon Jackson. Photography: Malcolm Griffiths.
Some driver training will make you a much better circuit driver.
TRACK DRIVING TUITION
Around 18 months ago we undertook a full course of driving tuition with Advanced Driving Consultant, Rob Colbourn. Our experience was limited to the road as that is where we all spend the majority of our time behind the wheel. The syllabus focused around improving our general attitude to driving, whilst sharpening our observation and anticipation skills. It provided us with an arsenal of useful techniques and common-sense hints useable in practically every road-going scenario. They’re ones I personally have used every day since. Quite rightly, Rob’s courses are tailored to each individual, but they ultimately serve to coach a person, no matter their skill or confidence level in a car, towards functioning as a better driver.
Rob’s methods explore the idea that there is an art to driving well, a road craft if you will, and his approach showcases that once equipped to practice it there is a whole extra dimension to driving, one so obvious it has been staring you in the face. You’d simply be lying if you claimed that didn’t sound appealing.
Rob’s background is unlikely, which makes his tutorage even more significant in my eyes – Rob was once a ‘white van man’. Charging up and down the country delivering parcels, Rob was the guy in the van sat three-inches off your back bumper, headlights ablaze chewing the steering wheel in anticipation of getting ahead of you. Since becoming a driving instructor, and today an Advanced Consultant, those aggressive days are long gone as Rob has gone through what he terms a ‘shift in attitude’. However, his past gives him a real world insight and pragmatic level of understanding unlike most driving experts we’ve encountered. Driving psychology and an indepth interest and understanding of the ‘human condition’ ensure Rob is able to relate to, and irradicate, any long-formed habits hampering your driving. When it comes to driving on the road, erasing bad habits is a very useful undertaking, translate it to the track and it might just save your life.
Despite spending much of his professional working life tutoring on track at Silverstone, Rob would be the first to admit that he’s not a ‘racing driver’. There’s a distinct difference between someone who can drive quickly, intelligently and safely on a circuit, and an individual who can exhume the last few tenths of a second in competitive motorsport. But if you have any level of desire to improve your track driving skill set, as we did, then Rob’s teachings are most useful and the ideal basis from which to move from merely enthusiastic to competent on track.
Interestingly, much of the craft Rob teaches on his road course can be translated, perhaps in an amplified fashion, to the driving techniques he promotes specific to the circuit. Driving psychology features heavily once more. Although each of us may respond differently when we are behind the wheel of a car, many of the reactions caused by our actions will have the same (unwelcome) outcome. Just like on the road, first and foremost using our vision becomes key to mastering an effective track driving technique.
Changing the way we observe situations can aid our ability to predict, understand and subsequently react. During road driving we’re taught to anticipate potentially hazardous situations, using a mixture of our experience and what the surrounding environment can communicate to us. This enables a driver to prophesize a possible course of events and act to minimise a problem which may arise in advance of it emerging. The principle is the same on track – if you know what might be ahead you can plan for it in advance. One of Rob’s mantras is to look through a corner, flick your eyes ahead through the turn, then draw them back to the apex to build a picture of where you’re going ahead of your arrival.
Rob let’s you build speed gradually, pushing on as and when you feel comfortable, and should your enthusiasm overtake adhesion, he’ll encourage you to reel it back and take a step back before moving forward and potentially out of your comfort zone. As you push the envelope of your perceived comfort level, so too do the limits of your skill set grow.
Vehicle dynamics also play an important part in the process of Rob’s teachings. Understanding what a car is doing underneath you, and what it might do as you feed it various inputs is vital. For example, Rob ensures you have a level of knowledge of the physical reaction your steering inputs make – drilling into you that as you turn the wheel you should be considering the angle of your car’s tyres, exactly what you’re asking of them and the relationship between road surface, tyre and car attitude.
“Many clients are familiar with the terms ‘oversteer and understeer’, but are not necessarily confident of giving an accurate definition or explanation of how they’re caused, identified, corrected or most importantly, prevented,” Rob explains.
Likewise most modern cars feature an abundance of electronic safety aids but do you as the driver really know how they all operate, to what extent they influence the vehicle, and how best to use them to good effect? Through Rob’s tuition, you’ll soon learn just how clever these systems are and whether or not you really need them, or rather why you should never rely on them. It’s the same with braking techniques, Rob likens emergency braking to bankruptcy: “We all understand the basic premise but spend years, quite rightly, employing other skills to try and avoid facing it for real,” he says. “If we do have to face it, we are likely to find ourselves lacking the necessary skills to overcome it. Paradoxically, practicing these skills to a high competency level reinforces the point that you should not allow yourself to need them.”
Sir Jackie Stewart is a big influence on the track driving techniques that Rob endorses, not as you might presume for his speed, but for his smoothness. Stewart was famed for his chauffeur-like driving style, and it’s this smooth, calculated and considered approach that Rob presses home. He teaches a driver to roll off the brake pedal, not jump off it, to balance the car through a corner, often with a small input of throttle mid-turn. Using all of the available road, letting the car gently run wide out of a corner, your task is then to gradually feed the power back in as the steering lock is wound off: “Imagine there is a piece of string between the accelerator pedal and the steering wheel,” he says. “That throttle pedal cannot go down until the wheel is fully straightened.”
Each and every input is designed to not upset the car, you should not overdrive it but rather make considered smooth adjustments to retain a certain level of balance. Coming out of corners this often feels like the old Martin Brundle adage of ‘hurry up and wait’ before you’re able to get on with things (and apply the throttle), but it ensures the cleanest exit and believe it or not will prove faster than letting the car slide from apex to curb.
We’ve already told you that much of what your improved road craft has taught you will also serve you well on the circuit, but conversely that works both ways. Employing a smooth and flowing approach on the track can also work effectively on the road, with a focus on using and extending your vision to your own advantage. I wouldn’t consider myself a confident track driver prior to spending time with Rob, yet with his help I’ve learnt both a greater understanding of what a vehicle is doing in a track environment, but also perhaps more important is how my perceptions have altered towards my own limitations. I’ve learned that I can gradually push to improve my level of comfort on track and, as a consequence, my skill levels improves with it.
Rob’s talent is arguably not a dark art of turning the average driver into a racing driver, but rather the methods he uses enthuse and inspire drivers to believe in themselves, and to hone their existing abilities. Indeed, far from schooling his clients in a new method of driving, Rob extracts the better driver that lies within us all, and he does so in a relaxed and informed manor that guarantees success.
Thanks to: Rob Colbourn / Web: www.robertcolbourn.co.uk
Track regular, Sam Preston, shares his experience of Rob’s course…
Although I have my fair share of track days under my belt, these often oversubscribed events sometimes prove to be as effective as supplying you with an opportunity to find the limits of a car as trying out the same techniques on the public highway during rush hour. At the Nürburging Nordschleife, for example, I’ve found myself spending more time checking my rear-view mirror for the likes of GT3 RSs to appear out of nowhere (as they so often do), than gaining the confidence needed to instead begin focusing on improving my own talents.
With Rob sat beside me and a nigh-on empty track complete with nervesettling amounts of runoff to play with, the rate of learning is naturally far quicker here. Especially once I’d realised that Rob wasn’t there to criticise my current level of driving but instead was genuinely interested in helping me work on what I’d already learnt to become a better, faster driver. Surely a dream of any true petrolhead?
Rob soon determined that smoothness in and out of corners was something that I could certainly do with some help with. First up, he assisted me in honing the art of trailing off the brakes gradually into slower-speed corners. Known by the pros as ‘trail braking’, the technique is something of a mirror to the ‘piece of string’ theory mentioned earlier; where the brakes are hit hard as you’d expect before turning, but then let off gradually as you begin to turn the steering wheel. As well as allowing you a later braking time, this technique perhaps more importantly helps keep the weight distribution of the car balanced for optimum grip and tyre usage throughout the turn. Easier said than done, for sure, but with some practice it’s soon easy to understand why this is one of the most effective weapons a racing driver can keep up their sleeve.
Other small nuggets of invaluable wisdom Rob helped me pick up on included keeping your vision focused on where you’re aiming as well as where you are (“don’t just live in the moment – you don’t know what’s around the corner unless you look”) and maintaining good positioning on the steering wheel (“those spokes are put in the ten-to-two position for a reason”) with a relaxed grip to ensure you pick up on as much feedback the car is supplying you with as possible. All techniques I don’t know if I’d ever manage to teach myself, regardless on how much track time I was exposed to.Stream item published successfully. Item will now be visible on your stream.
- Post is under moderationHOT STUFF
We loved the M135i but do a new engine and some subtle tweaks endow BMW’s hottest hatch with even more joie de vivre?
Words: Bob Harper Photography: Gus Gregory
Hot Stuff The best hot hatch BMW has ever made? You could make a case for the cracking M140i being just that.
BMW’s rapid and entertaining hot hatch put through its paces.
When they’re working our motorways are a great way of getting around and if you attack them at the right time of day significant distances can be covered in pretty short order.
Trouble is, that ‘right time of day’ window of opportunity seems to be getting shorter and shorter by the day and finding the Holy Grail of driving for a London-based hack – a free-flowing M25 – is about as common as a polite Clinton/Trump exchange.
These are the thoughts that are flitting through my mind as I contemplate returning to London from my sister’s house in Salisbury. It was an unscheduled visit as when I picked up the M140i you can see here from a BMW event in Wiltshire the traffic displays on Google maps and on the BMW’s sat nav both suggested that a toddler had gone wild with their mother’s brightest hue of red lipstick all over the South East. No problem, I thought, blag dinner with my big sis and slope off back to London once the traffic had died down. Except the traffic appeared not to have died down. Both the M3 and M4 appeared to be closed and if anything that toddler has stayed up past its bedtime and continued its frenzied attack with the lipstick. An offer of a bed for a night and the opportunity to raid my brother-in-law’s drinks cabinet was tempting but I really needed to get home and although the F20’s cockpit is a comfortable place I wasn’t looking forward to the journey.
It didn’t take me long to get into the swing of things though. I’d planned a route in my head almost exclusively using back roads and pretty soon the M140i was thoroughly warmed-up and eager to play.
Even in the dark this car’s cross-country pace is simply phenomenal. We’ll get onto its vital stats in a minute but for the moment hold one thought in your head: this M140i with the eight-speed auto ‘box is quicker to 62mph from a standstill than an E61 M5 Touring, and that V10-engined monster has never been criticised for its lack of pace.
The way the M140i will catapult itself out of one corner to the next is immensely impressive whether you rely on low-down torque to punch you along or let the turbo’d ‘six sing and elect to use all the revs.
Lower down the rev range you’re rewarded with a bassy, baritone note and while the soundtrack is ever so slightly muffled by being a turbo by the time you’re up around the 6000rpm mark you really have unleashed the full choir and orchestra, peaking in a wonderful crescendo just before you reach for the right-hand paddle for the next upchange which elicits a wonderful ‘whummph’ from the exhaust as you continue on your charge.
Washing off your speed for the next corner is undramatic as, time after time, the M Sport braking setup with its bigger discs and four-pot front callipers knocks big numbers from the speedo ready to tackle the next bend. The M140i’s chassis proves up to the task, too. It’s not up to M2-levels of connectivity and communication but, all the same, you still have a good idea of what it’s doing underneath you and it never gives you an unexpected response. Some more feedback through the steering wheel wouldn’t go amiss but for an electric setup it’s not bad at all and it’s only when the going gets really tough that you ever have any cause for concern.
Unexpected mid-corner undulations or broken road surfaces can upset the car a little and with the (optional) adaptive dampers in their Sport setting you do occasionally feel as if there’s a little bit too much patter from the wheels as they hop from bump to bump, not quite settling properly in between them. After I’ve made hay for the first part of the journey the roads do seem to deteriorate somewhat and a quick fiddle with the #iDrive leaves the engine in Sport mode but backs the dampers off to their more Comfortorientated setting which I personally often prefer as I like the additional compliance it gives you. Yes, you do experience a little more body roll at times but I’m happy with that as the level of lean helps to give you an idea as to how hard you’re pressing.
We’re onto more open roads now with less tight corners and the M140i makes short work of the straights, blatting past the occasional slower moving car with ease. As I become more familiar with the car the speed that long sweepers can be taken at is deeply impressive. Just a gentle dab of the brakes is required to settle the car into the corner before getting gently back on the throttle to balance the car through the bend.
The original plan was to head for the A3 to come into London but as I’m having so much fun I decide to run a bit further east on the back roads and head into London on the M23. As the magical mystery tour continues it then dawns on me that one of the reasons I’ve been able to maintain such a good pace and not have any of those clenched buttock moments you can sometimes get at night on unfamiliar roads when the Tarmac suddenly goes in a direction you weren’t anticipating is because the headlights on this car are phenomenal. All higher-end 1 Series models come with full LEDs as standard but on this machine BMW has upgraded these (to the tune of £490) to Adaptive LEDs, which also includes high-beam assist.
They make a huge difference illuminating the road so effectively and creating little light tunnels as you approach other cars so as not to blind them but still offering excellent coverage. If you reckon you’re likely to spend much of your time driving at night these really are a must-have option.
All good things come to an end, though, and in what seems like no time I’m approaching the base of the M23 and I slot everything back into Comfort, set the cruise to a smidgen over the speed limit and relax a little. Economy for my back road blast hasn’t been stellar – I’m into the low 20s – but resetting the readout and rechecking as I approach London shows that a sedate cruise will nigh-on double that figure. With everything set to Comfort the M140i is exactly that with the eight-speed auto slurring between ratios imperceptibly and the engine quiet and subdued.
Even the last few miles of London traffic are kind to me. I cast a glance over my shoulder once I’m parkedup in south east London as the M140i’s exhaust ticks quietly to itself as it starts to cool down and I can’t help but think that this machine is a real gem and enough of a step up over the old M135i to be worthy of the new badge.
At the heart of the M140i is the new B58 straight-six which offers 340hp and 369lb ft of torque – gains of 14hp and 37lb ft – enough to knock 0.3 seconds from the 0-62mph time in both manual and auto guises. Economy’s improved, too, now up to 36.2mpg for the manual and 39.8mpg for the auto we have here, while emissions are reduced by 9g/km and 12g/km respectively. It’s not just the vital stats that are impressive, though, as on the road you really do feel the extra urge, particularly lower down the rev range, and the engine’s keenness to rev is a welcome improvement, too. That’s not to say the old M135i was desperately lacking in these areas, simply that the M140i offers a significant advancement.
While the majority of the car is the same as the post-face-lift #LCI-1-Series , BMW has altered its suspension settings so that it’s more like the M240i and you do notice this on the road. It’s ever so slightly keener to turn-in, resisting understeer a little better, while it also seemed that the rear end was less inclined to breakaway unless the roads were particularly damp. And this is perhaps the only area where the M140i suffers, namely in low-friction traction where injudicious applications of throttle will see the traction control tell-tale flashing demonically.
It’s something that can be driven around in the majority of situations but can be slightly frustrating when you really want to put the hammer down. For the most part leaving the car in a higher ratio does the trick, but occasionally pulling out of wet junctions is a little fraught, especially if you’re going for a small gap in traffic.
Another aspect of the M140i that appeals is its stealthy nature. Most other road users don’t give you much of a second glance, especially if you de-badge the car. Only those in the know will likely clock the lack of front foglights or the Ferric grey highlights on the mirror caps and around the front air intakes. And while we’re on the subject of those lower front air intakes, am I the only one who hates the fact that the one on the driver’s side is properly functional while the one on the passenger side is simply a piece of plastic covering the whole opening that’s just made to look like an intake? I guess I never made a fuss that only one of the E9x M3’s bonnet mounted intakes was functional so this shouldn’t really bother me… but it does! And while I’m nitpicking, I’m not really a fan of the Ferric grey paint either.
Apart from that, though, I’d say I’m a huge fan of the car and were it ever so slightly bigger I could almost see myself running one. Sadly rear legroom is an issue that brought grumpy complaints from my 17- year-old son. At £33,835 for this eight-speed auto version I also reckon it’s a bit of a bargain – and over £10k less than an M2 which also doesn’t offer the M140i’s hatchback practicality or anonymity either. Watch out for the price of options, though, as our test car came in at a tad over £40k, although bar the LED lights, Adaptive dampers and heated front seats I could live without the majority of the toys.
That late night back road blast will live with me for a long time, though. I’ve not had that much fun in a car for ages. Thank goodness our motorways don’t always behave themselves, eh?
TECHNICAL DATA #2016 #BMW-F20 / #BMW-M140i / #BMW-M140i-F20 / #BMW / #BMW-1-Series / #BMW-1-Series-F20 / 2016
ENGINE: Straight-six, 24-valve / #B58B30M0 / #BMW-B58 / #B58
MAX POWER: 340hp @ 5500rpm
MAX TORQUE: 369lb ft @ 1520-4500rpm
0-62MPH: 4.8 seconds (4.6)
TOP SPEED: 155mph (155)
ECONOMY: 36.2mpg (39.8)
EMISSIONS: 179g/km (163)
WEIGHT (EU): 1525kg (1550)
PRICE (OTR): £32,405 (£33,835)
Figures in brackets refer to eight-speed automatic tested #ZF8HP
This M140i with the eight-speed auto ’box is quicker to 62mph from a standstill than an E61 M5 Touring.
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- Three-pot praise. It was surprising but pleasurable to read a review of the lowly 118i in the November issue. I share ownership of a 118i five-door SpThree-pot praise. It was surprising but pleasurable to read a review of the lowly 118i in the November issue. I share ownership of a 118i five-door Sport auto with BMW Finance. It replaced an F30 116i, which I respected rather than loved. The F30 had all those fine BMW characteristics but was too bloated – it frequently stayed in the garage while I took my wife’s car to the shops! What I wanted was something the size of an E30 and the F20 is spot-on.
I have to disagree with your reviewer on several points however. I respect the fillings in my teeth too much to drive an M Sport model. A mere Sport also has a sensibly-sized steering wheel. Sticking below 4500rpm with that sweet-running threecylinder engine is to deny it its chance to shine though and with a redline at 7000rpm it shows that this engine loves to rev. Possibly your test car was not yet fully run-in; a process that takes a couple of thousand miles. Then you can show a surprising number of larger-engined cars the way home. I find that using Shell V-Power Nitro petrol helps too. And what a refined engine it is too – beautifully smooth, almost like a straight-six.
My F20 is simply a lot more pleasurable to drive (and park) than its F30 predecessor and I love it. More ...
- We’re glad that the 118i has put the sparkle back into your BMW motoring Peter and while the 118i might ‘only’ have three-cylinders its vital stats arWe’re glad that the 118i has put the sparkle back into your BMW motoring Peter and while the 118i might ‘only’ have three-cylinders its vital stats are actually better than the four-cylinder F30 316i that you owned previously, with the 118i being quicker to 62mph from standstill than the 3 Series.
You are right that the Sport model will ride better than the M Sport as the latter car has M Sport suspension settings as well as wheels that are an inch larger in diameter. If you prefer the M Sport looks you can always opt to delete the M Sport suspension as a no cost option. More ...
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