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    HOT 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 transmission
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    HOT 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.

    M140i tested
    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
    CAPACITY: 2998cc
    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.
    • 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.
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    • 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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    Bob Harper
    Well that’s it then, the clocks have gone back, Halloween shenanigans are over for another year and the local youth have stopped making the local area feel like a war zone with their incessant firework combustions. Which means that any minute Christmas will be upon us. Fortunately I’ve yet to visit a shop that’s piping wobbly carols over its sound system from a tape that should have been retired in the 1990s, but I’m sure it’ll only be a matter of days before I do. My local DIY store had its array of plastic Christmas trees and other dubious outdoor Xmas decorations in store in mid-October #2016 !

    Now, I don’t want you thinking that I’m a grumpy old bah humbug Scrooge-type character – despite what some in the office might say – but I’d really like a little bit of time to enjoy the autumn. It seems as if summer has only just finished and I’d like to be able to revel in the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness before finding we’re in the middle of the bleak midwinter. And I must admit that I never knew that winter in the UK doesn’t officially start until 21 December… which is more or less the day I think shops should be allowed to get out their Christmas wares!

    The autumn does bring about driving challenges and I do enjoy getting used to lower grip levels and needing to read the road more carefully than in the summer months. The nights drawing in also give me a chance to better assess some of the gadgets and gizmos increasingly fitted to #BMW test cars and this month spending some time with the brilliant #BMW-M140i-F20 demonstrated just how effective its headlights are. This being a press car, it was kitted out with the all-singing, all-dancing Adaptive LED lights and they are simply stunning – once you’ve experienced them on a dark country road you’d really hate to go back to old fashioned halogens. The way they flick on and off, providing you with little light tunnels as they avoid dazzling oncoming traffic is mesmerising and a real step forward in road safety. When I stepped back into my company car I was briefly under the impression that both headlight bulbs must have failed simultaneously.

    On the other hand, damp and slippery roads do show up the limitations of a very powerful rearwheel drive car, and if you’re not careful the #BMW-M140i would illuminate its traction control light almost as brightly as its headlights illuminated the road. No wonder xDrive is becoming more and more prevalent as it really allows you to make use of all of the performance all of the time. Time to remember the ‘good old days’ when the only traction control device fitted was you right foot!
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    M140i and M240i introduced / #B58 / #BMW-B58 / #BMW-M140i / #BMW-M240i / #BMW / #BMW-M240i-F22 / #BMW-F22 / #BMW-M140i-F20 / #BMW-F20 / #2016 / / #B58B30M0

    As is generally the case, BMW’s model range will go through a series of changes and upgrades this summer and two of the machines set to benefit this year are the M Performance M135i and M235i which both receive the new B58 six-cylinder engine and see their names change to BMW-M140i and BMW-M240i respectively. The new engine receives a power hike of 14hp and now has a maximum torque output of 369lb ft – a gain of 37lb ft over the outgoing model. The three- and five-door M140is and the M240i Coupé all knock off the benchmark 0-62mph sprint in 4.8 seconds (4.6 if equipped with the eight-speed auto) while the M240i Convertible is a tad slower at 4.9 seconds for the manual and 4.7 seconds for the auto. Despite this improvement in performance the new M Performance models see a seven per cent improvement in fuel economy. When the M140i goes on sale it will cost from £31,875 with the M240i priced from £35,090. The M240i convertible will cost from £38,535.
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