By on February 12, 2016

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From reader-but-not-commenter Paul Stanley (save the comments, B&B) comes a review of what he feels to be the last enthusiast-focused Bimmer — JB

BMW’s neue klasse marked the beginning of an era of driver-focused cars in the 1960s by introducing a lightweight, moderately powered car that sought balance and usability above all else. Perhaps more importantly, it was affordable and not overly complex. The 2002 was a driver’s car, and so was the 3 Series that followed.

Then, in 2008, BMW introduced the 1 Series to the US market.

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Touted as part 2002, part shrunken 3 Series, the lowly 1er came to us in coupe and convertible forms, and in 128i and 135i flavors. The 2008 135i was the show stealer with its excellent N54 twin turbo, 3-liter inline-six engine underhood. Producing 300 horsepower and 300 lbs-ft of torque, it blasted through the quarter mile in 13.3 seconds. The limited-run “1M,” not to be confused with the M1, became an instant collectible, commanding crazy prices on the used market.

The lesser 128i, with 230 horsepower and 200 lbs-ft of torque from a normally aspirated 3-liter inline six, was easy for the statistics-oriented driver to overlook. Indeed, it seemed destined to become the new “secretary car” of the BMW lineup. Though it offered a low base price just under $30,000, the 128i was frequently ordered with an automatic transmission and loaded up with convenience options. The sunroof was also a mandatory option on early builds, ballooning the weight and price while decreasing driving pleasure and reliability.

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Yet many reviewers knew the 128i was the smart buy of the lineup, even as they lamented the loaded-up state of their test cars. The 128i undercut the 135i by $8,000 while avoiding weight and complexity, singing a sweeter song, and upholding tradition. But unless you ordered one new, what are the odds today of finding one with only the enthusiast boxes checked? Do the used market players have any chance of finding this sweet spot, this 21st century 2002?

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Sometimes we enthusiasts get lucky during our idle car browsing, and I got so lucky.

Two days before Christmas 2015, I picked up a 2013 128i. It was painted Alpine White and equipped with only two options, the Coral Red Boston leather interior and the M Sport package. I have finally found my own neue klasse. Yet this one’s at the end of an era, rather than beginning, and I’ve found myself thinking of it as the alte klasse — BMW’s swan song to the purist, if you will.

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Eschewing fanciness such as navigation, a sunroof, or flappy paddle gearboxes, this is a car ordered by a driver. The original owner traded it in with just 8,300 miles, apparently succumbing to new-Miata mania. The 1er’s stubby exterior styling enables a cockpit which comfortably accommodates four average-sized adults for short jaunts. My leggy, six-foot-tall wife sits in relative comfort with our six year old on a booster behind her, neither complaining once on a 90-minute drive. Even more impressively, a rear-facing child seat fits perfectly on the deck between the two back seats, meaning this car is just as usable for a small family as the 2002 was for a generation that didn’t need crossovers.

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Outward visibility is excellent in all directions, and the lack of Xenons on my car is fine by me, since that would’ve required ordering the premium package as well. The car is a delight to drive, quick enough to be fun but slow enough to let me wind out the gears and hear the straight-six yawp through the BMW Performance intake. A run from 0-60 clocks in just under 6 seconds. The optional BMW Performance brakes were fade free during a seven-tenths mountain drive to Lick Observatory outside of San Jose. And the six-speed manual is crisp and precise, complementing the engine’s smooth, linear nature.

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Since the introduction of the 3 Series in 1977, we’ve seen various performance evolutions from the simple E30 M3 up to the current high-tech F80/F82 M monsters. Certainly BMW has moved away from mechanical simplicity and towards electronic wizardry. In 2014, my car’s replacement, the 228i moved BMW even further in that direction, swapping the inline six for a turbocharged four.

BMW can keep their turbocharged fours and their enhanced electronics. I’ll keep this car for myself. The 2013 128i marks the end of an era, and I’m celebrating it on every on-ramp, every mountain road, and every trip down the California coast.

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168 Comments on “Reader Review: 2013 BMW 128i M-Sport...”


  • avatar
    Driver8

    I WILL NOT SPARE YOU MY OBLIGATORY K.I.S.S. COMMENT.

    Nice ride. Pics of that red leather interior would be appreciated.
    Are you keeping it stock?

  • avatar
    threeer

    Yeah, a manual-tranny 128i is just about the only BMW I saw as being anything close to related to my much-loved 2002. Most are sadly purchased/optioned as mentioned above with the requisite A/T and such, and are driven by fewer and fewer enthusiast-drivers of the brand, and more brand-drivers of the brand. Kinda like being the “914” of the BMW family these days!

  • avatar
    spreadsheet monkey

    Nice photos. Great choice of options – glad you’re enjoying the car.

  • avatar
    DeadWeight

    Great car, great mindset by the owner:

    ” 128i undercut the 135i by $8,000 while avoiding weight and complexity, singing a sweeter song, and upholding tradition.”

    “BMW can keep their turbocharged fours and their enhanced electronics. I’ll keep this car for myself. The 2013 128i marks the end of an era…”

    Aside from two, purely subjective niggles, being not fond of really white paint and being a
    lover of xenon (good quality) headlamps, this vehicle is fantastic, and a better choice with the I6 all around than ANY 4 banger (BMW, like so many other manufacturers, have lost their souls/minds/plots in replacing amazing V6s and I6s with lesser 4 banger).

    No useless sunroof!

    A manual gearbox!

    BMWs legendary inline 6 cylinder!

    A proper, right-sized, stout structure, GT Cruiser type Euro Sports Sedan!

    What’s not to love?

    I’d buy this car over so many much more expensive, new-direction (more expensive, 4 cylinder, paddle-shifted nonsense) alternatives even if it WERE more expensive, because it’s fundamentally better.

    We reached peak glorious sub-genre vehicle somewhere between 1998 and 2008, depending on make & model of vehicle, with exceedingly few exceptions, and it’s been an all melting-into-a-sea-of-homogenous-4-cylinders-spooled-covered-by-a-lumpen-jellybean-shapen-overstuffed-with-electronic-gadgets since then.

    • 0 avatar
      Driver8

      Agree on all points, but a modernized version of the e30 M3 I-4 would be an interesting experiment in a car this size: normally aspirated, IRTB, DI, VVT.

      It’s a shame that cars equipped and optioned like these are hens teeth.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        The FR-S/BRZ tick off most of your criteria (no IRTB).

        • 0 avatar
          epsilonkore

          +1 I cross shopped the 128 and my FR-S, and while the idea of the smoother 6, “premium name plate” and superior luxury (even in base “drivers car” form) is there… I just couldnt justify the extra $$$ for virtually no performance difference at legal speeds and higher cost of ownership after the warranty. In hind sight, a fully loaded BRZ would have been the best choice for me, but that would have tipped the cash arguement closer to BMW’s favor. All good cars, but the simple, normally asperated DI VVTLi with dual stage injectors rwd sports coupe still exists at Subaru.

          • 0 avatar
            Str8 6

            I eagerly anticipated the release of the BRZ/FR-S’s, but ended up finding a 22k mile CPO low spec 6MT Sport package 2011 128i for the same price as a new Toyobaru. The 128i has been fabulous with the addition of a Quaife LSD, M3 front control arms, and “square tire/wheel” package. So I spent around $29k all-in to get the 128i where it is now. The Toyobaru, bought during the first year of its release, would have been similarly priced.

            The issue, for me, with the BRZ/FR-S is that the engine lacks low end torque, doesn’t sound good at all, and is too loud. The 128i has much more low end torque, sounds beautiful, and isn’t too loud. As Road and Track noted, they liked the fact that the Toyobaru exists, but every time they finished driving it, even for short stints, they didn’t want to get back in it. That’s a simple sign that the vehicle is too fatiguing. I wish the Toyobaru had a better engine – not necessarily more powerful, just better sounding and quieter. The 128i’s engine is one of its best features – super smooth, abundant low-end torque, and great sound – you never want to stop hearing the motor. It’s also functionally much quicker off the line because you don’t have to rev-out just to get going.

            I constantly see Toyobaru’s having to use what seems like half revs just to get off the line and keep up with traffic. The 128i can be brought off the line at 1k rpms and then throttled up from there. The N52 also sounds great all over the rev range. If the Toyobaru sounded like an RX-8 with its Renesis, there wouldn’t be an issue, but the gravelly grating sound of the boxer four is too fatiguing for me. My last sports car was an RX-8 and it was a blast to drive – the lack of low end torque wasn’t an issue because the car was so enjoyable to rev – neat sound, ultra smooth, and not too loud.

            I really do like the Toyobarus – fantastic front end, cozy but sporty cockpit, and a beautiful shape – but I can’t be inside of one. I really wanted to get a BRZ before I drove one. If I was deaf, I might still have bought one. Though I’ve owned all of the German marques and appreciate their history and (sadly disappearing) Teutonic design approach, I’m not looking for status due to what I drive – and the thought of owning a Subaru was also appealing for this reason. (I daily/work out of an ’08 Odyssey minivan – and love it). My 128i is only driven for fun – certainly not owned for status.

            Another thing to consider is in 10, 20, or 30 years, the 128i will be a collector car and an icon in being the “last real BMW”. . The BRZ will be like a lower volume Miata. (Note, I really like Miatas). If I wanted a track car, I think I’d take a BRZ for its low cost, superb handling (lower CG, for sure). I’d be wearing earplugs on the track so noise wouldn’t be an issue.

      • 0 avatar
        Carzzi

        “Agree on all points, but a modernized version of the e30 M3 I-4 would be an interesting experiment…”
        On the previous (E90) generation, BMW had a Euro-version WTCC homologation special, the 320si (not ‘is’), with a quick-revving 173hp @7000rpm NA 11:1 compression I-4. Wasn’t quite S14-level, no indiv throttle bodies…

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      HiD lamps are so good, it’s hard to go back to something halogen. I feel like I can’t see -anything- at night with them.

      My other issue with the 1 was the saggy look of the lower trim and door line. It looks like it needs a bit of plastic surgery to tighten it back up.

      • 0 avatar
        kvndoom

        I can’t see -anything- when an oncoming car has them. :(

        Of course those are usually illegal aftermarket HID’s, and I can’t understand for the life of me how they can even be sold.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Lots of states don’t have inspections for that sort of thing. I don’t think the OEM ones are too bad. They’ve got auto levelers so they don’t point up too high at other drivers..

          • 0 avatar
            415s30

            Uh whatever those huge Audi SUVs are sporting pretty much blind me, I am all for making that crap illegal. The lead up to the Golden Gate Bridge in the morning can be pretty bad. Yeah we can flip our mirrors, but then it’s harder to see properly in the city.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          That’s definitely the retrofits into reflector housings (which should be impounded IMO). OEM HIDs won’t blind you unless they’re on a car with 5 dead bodies in the trunk or a lifted truck. Most retrofits into projector housings end up working OK, although not always.

          • 0 avatar
            415s30

            Well the German SUVs are pretty bad and definitely stock. The damn tail lights are bright too, on a foggy SF morning heading into the city the massive lights just wash out everything at eye level or below, pretty dangerous.

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            This might depend on what you are driving, but I definitely find OEM HIDs blinding from the viewpoint of my lowish sedan. I think the height difference makes it unavoidable; the SUV’s lights would have to be aimed uselessly low to avoid causing problems for smaller vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        I drove a Fusion last night with the new LED headlamps, they’re just about as good as HIDs. *Proper* HIDs in the *correct* housing are phenomenal. These stupid kids who put “LOL 10000K BLUE” HID capsules in their halogen reflector housings should be beaten with reeds.

        “BUT I CAN LIKE TOTALLY SEE LIKE A LOT BETTER!” No you can’t. You just think you can because the road signs are dazzling. Meanwhile I fantasize about taking a hammer to your headlamps.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        I’ve had great halogen reflectors and junk factory HIDs.

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          Agreed very much. I think much of the alleged advantage of HID is simply that since they are the “premium”, and usually very expensive option, the makers actually spent decent money on the optics. Ultimately, either is just a source of light. What you DO with that light is what matters. It’s all in the lenses and reflectors. I do think that the whiter light of HIDs increases contrast in the near field, which makes people think they can see farther than they really can. But I find some HIDs to be worse in precipitation, especially snow.

          I don’t find the HIDs on my M235i to be amazingly better than the halogens on my 328i, and neither are as good as the ecode halogens on my Range Rover, or the factory ecode halogens I had on my Peugeot 505s (which are the best headlights I have ever driven behind).

          • 0 avatar
            JimZ

            projector optics are a lot easier to get “right.” I’ve seen some absolutely terrible reflector headlamp housings which threw the most ragged, uneven beams possible. plus, if you’re using a single dual-filament halogen bulb, you have two light sources to design for. the “Centered” (high beam) one, and the “offset” (low/dipped beam) one. With HIDs in a projector setup, you have one light source (the arc) and low beams are just a shutter moved into place to block part of the beam.

          • 0 avatar
            Quentin

            Now that you mention precipitation, that was my major complaint about the GTI HIDs. I felt like I was seeing nothing but the snow or rain that was immediately in front of the windscreen.

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            Good to hear this from someone who can compare cars currently in his garage.

            I always thought the halogens in my ’02 Mazda Protege were great and the HIDs in the BMWs I’ve had overrated, but I wondered if this impression is because my eyes were younger when I had the Mazda.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            To compare apples to apples, I have always thought that the optional HID lights on the 328i are a bit better than the standard halogens. Just not $1000 up front better, and God help you if any of it breaks better. If the halogens had the projector lenses that the HIDs got the difference would be minimal. Better optics are more important than how you generate the light.

            I actually think the steer into corners aspect of the HID setup is useful, and the full all-singing all-dancing Euro option HIDs with auto highbeams and ant-dazzle that can move the headlight beams all over the place is great. But it would be just about as great with halogen bulbs, and whole lot cheaper.

            LEDs are probably the best of all. In theory they last about forever without all the high voltage madness of using arc lamps for the light. Plus the ability to change the beam pattern without actualy having to mechanically swing the lights around. With BMW’s mechanical setup, the wrong pothole and some bad luck can destroy a $1500 headlight if the wrong bit snaps off.

          • 0 avatar

            My e 46 has the HID, but they don’t swivel-just up and down. They are exactly the same in this car as the high beam. The HID car has a shutter for high/low. If you pull flash to pass, you get the center hight beams flashing. The shutters in the HID drop.

            You can easily A/B the beams. They are, at least in a 3, exactly the same. The light is different color, but at the end of the day, they illuminate the exactly same area. Now, I”m sure BMW has optimized both setups, but if my 3 had the base lights, I’d not spend the money for OE HID (and I”d never do those annoying aftermarket lights)

            Best OE headlights ever ? My Acura MDX. HID outside with halogen high beams in good reflectors. They don’t move at all.

            I like the Cadillac active lights, which follow the steering wheel. The steering beams first appear a gimmick, but after a while, you wonder why the OTHER cars don’t swivel. It is nice to have the light on the curve, not in the bushes. The HID option for Caddy is worth it….great optics too, as good as the BMW.

            I truly appreciate these lighting setups. I came of age during the sealed beam era, where we risked tickets to see…after installing illegal euro code H4 lights….and the cutoffs would attract cops. I got out of a few tickets by demoing the cutoff and reduced glare…but not always. Not a nostalgic memory. Still worth risking a ticket, though, over not seeing half the time….

            US headlight laws have always been krap. 9004 bulb anyone ? Really ? Luckily most of these are fodder only for Murilee’s great articles.

            Kudos on the car. You get a full Blau mit Weiss Fanboy Salute ! Castrol 0w-40, and follow Mike Miller’s Old School Maintenance Schedule.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Where were you that the cops cared about headlights, out of curiosity?

            I upgraded nearly every one of my cars to e-codes. Occasionally at stupid expense (full OEM setup with wash/wipe on Volvos). Also quite often a pair of Hella 500s on the bumper for moose spotting. And usually with higher than standard wattage bulbs and added relays. never a problem here in Maine, and we have a decent annual inspection regime. At most I occasionally had an inspector ask about them, but no one ever failed me because of them.

            Nice that it is no longer necessary to do this. All the OEM headlights on cars I have bought new in the past six years have been entirely adequate, and the Rover came with ecodes thanks to the PO. I did upgrade my ’02 Golf TDI to the Euro ecodes with foglights, built in remote leveling and added the washer kit. In a sloppy Maine winter, I find headlight cleaning to be a must have. After 15 minutes in the slop, you can’t see a darned thing.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          “Junk factory HIDs” describes the OEM reflector HIDs in my loaded Subaru Forester pretty well. They’re not horrible, but I’ve had better halogens in projector housings.

          On the other hand the low beam HIDs (with very large projectors) on my LS460 are the best headlights I’ve experienced and it’s not even close. A shame the halogen projector high beams are kind of weak. Oddly, the best high beams I’ve ever had in any car were the ones on my ’87 Taurus. Light for miles.

          • 0 avatar

            To Khrodes:
            New Jersey-the e codes stood out huge in the 80’s….and were a free excuse to have a chat for interested law enforcement. NJ had a state inspection system, so you had to swap out the lights every year. Whatever annoyance NY presents, is less than the state inspection station in Lodi, NJ. Anything other than DOT sealed beams was a fail. My friends and I hated that place…even more when my Firebird, which had failed 3x, magically passed when my grey haired step-dad took it through.

            I too had e codes on anything I could lash them to. I found the stock H4, with a set of H1 driving lights with 100 w bulbs switched relay on to the high beams were optimal. The super-hi were limited in use in my area, and would sometimes blind me back on reflective signs. I haven’t bothered with my current cars, but I also don’t have moose to think about…only the occasional bambi.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        I agree that this BMW would look better without the extra plastic along the bottom and with a nose & a$$ nip/tuck, but on a relative scale, where almost all other vehicles are being saddled with unnecessary creases, bumps, warts, vents, fins and other appendages of many kinds, and there’s a general trend towards angry-portly-jelly-bean shapes, it could be worse.

    • 0 avatar
      RideHeight

      “We reached peak glorious sub-genre vehicle somewhere between 1998 and 2008”

      Yep, Honda Element and I missed out.

    • 0 avatar

      100%, DW. I adore this car, but wish it was a different color.

      • 0 avatar
        squidge

        I’d have picked LeMans Blue… but I also saved 1/3 of the price of the car by not getting to pick my color. It’s clean and nice in person. And for later model 128s, xenons were only an option with the premium package, which added a bunch of other crap too.

        I can live with this. Those were in fact two of the things I said about the car when I was deciding to buy it. ;)

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          I came *this close* to going White on Coral for my M235i. But I just couldn’t get a non-color, when the road is a sea of non-colors. So Estoril Blue on Oyster it was. And since you can get Oyster Sensatec but not Coral Sensatec, I saved $1000 that way.

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            Estoril is awesome. I’ve never been a fan of the coral red interiors.

          • 0 avatar
            badreligion702

            I have an Estoril Blue 328i with Dinan Stage 1. I absolutely love the fact that I almost never see any other Estoril Blue Bimmers on the road. Makes mine stand out a bit among a sea of white, black, and silver 3 series.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        Derek!

        Long time, no hear.

        I hope the new job is going well, man. Good to see you again.

    • 0 avatar
      dantes_inferno

      @Deadweight

      Yeah, that’s all well and good until the cost of maintenance comes into play (a.k.a. Break My Wallet OR Bavarian Money Wastebasket).

      To paraphrase Mike Tyson:

      In a BMW, everyone has a plan – until their wallet gets HIT!

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        If you can afford to buy one new, you can afford to fix one, many times over. Trouble is people who buy them cheaply used…

        But that said, the moneypits are the more complex and expensive ones. 1s and 3s with the N52 are pretty darned reliable cars. MUCH better over the long haul than the previous two generations. The early turbos were a total disaster, and anything with a V8 tends to be as well. And X5s, as our own Kyree recently found out.

        The F3X and F2X cars seem to be notable for a lack of common issues. Admittedly not particularly old cars yet (oldest are 5yrs), but the issues with the e9x cars were legendary when they were this age, especially the turbos. And EVERY one of the new cars is turbocharged.

        Look up the Consumer Reports rating on a 2-series. You will be amazed.

        As I like to say, the good old days are now.

    • 0 avatar
      Shawnski

      For once I agree with DW. Only I am a huge fan of the 135. I am on my third since 2008 (keep coming back). I currently have a ’12 135 convert DCT. Fast, built like a Panzerwagen, practical, and with that old school heavy BMW tiller that makes it stone stable at an indicated 130.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I can assure you that my new-fangled electric steering M235i is just as dead stable and heavy in the tiller at 155mph as your car is, probably more so (Euro Delivery is SO much fun!). But my 90lb Grandmother could maneuver it with her pinky finger at parking lot speeds in Comfort Mode. Modern technology is a beautiful thing.

    • 0 avatar

      This ! (In reply to DW’s comment)

      I’m always amazed at the 1 type. Every time I go to Europe, I see zillions of them. All are five doors, and have a four of some sort. I have NEVER seen a two door one in Germany, nor a six powered one of any body style. I wonder if any have ever been sold over there….

      What we think are common cars, the M series, etc, are exceptionally rare in the home country.

      I almost bought a manual 1 from a local dealer, used, but I was told it was “almost sold”, and, at the end of the day, I wanted a bigger car to fight NYC traffic with.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I saw two M135i’s on my month-long trip to Europe last summer – totally droolworthy. So they sold at least two 6cyl 1-series hatches over there. I am sure there were a few 135is that I just didn’t notice because they don’t stand out. I saw one 2-series convertible in Milan. Being driven top-down by a hot Italian model-looking chick. :-)

        My M235i attracted a TON of attention, embarrassingly so. Especially in Italy. Italians do LOVE their fast cars. The French seemed to like it a lot too.

    • 0 avatar
      ssaxman

      You do realize the top bmw 2002 had a turbo 4 right? I really don’t get the hate for 4 cylinders that so many people have. Or the naturally aspirated boners people get

  • avatar
    VW16v

    Cute little chick car. Perfect for that rich girl going away to college.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      there is no such thing as a “chick car.” Only “cars that insecure guys won’t drive because they’re afraid people will think they’re gay.”

      • 0 avatar
        VoGo

        for VW16v, chick car means “something I can’t afford but really want, so I pick a label to denigrate it so I don’t feel so bad about myself.”

        • 0 avatar
          JimZ

          I’m not up on all of the personalities here yet.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Usually it’s Infiniti. Today, BMW.

        • 0 avatar
          VW16v

          A 128i is a relatively inexpensive car. Less than 25k. It just looks like a little chick. If you and others were not insecure about it being a chick car you would not have responded by putting down my opinion.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            VW16V,
            We’re not all putting down your ridiculous opinion. We’re putting down you!

            The writer takes the time to write about his car, then sticks around to answer questions and all you offer is an insult that it’s a chick car. You must get invited to a lot of parties.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            I couldn’t care less about a 128i; I’ll never own one. I just think the phrase “chick car” says more about the person who applies it than the car.

          • 0 avatar
            VW16v

            Dal, next time you see a white 128. Look and see who is driving the car.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            BMW US demographics tend to skew more male than average.

            The 1-series is intended to reach a younger demographic.

            I’ve never seen any demographic data for US 1-series deliveries, but I suspect that they skew younger than the typical BMW but just about as male. Anecdotally, it appears to me that boy racers tend to favor it, i.e. what would have once been the Integra crowd.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Yes, yes. Because the person you see driving a vehicle is representative of that entire model.

            I would bet that the 1-Series has a similar male percentage buying it as the 3-Series but less than the 5-Series. About 60% of 3-Series owners are male and 42% are males between the ages of 18 and 49.

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            One of the key differences between smart people and dumb people is that the former try to find data, while the latter rely heavily on their eyeballs.

            One key reason that humans long believed that the world was flat is because it looks that way.

          • 0 avatar
            VoGo

            By his own logic, whatever VW16v drives is a “douche car.”

          • 0 avatar
            Pch101

            Well, I don’t particularly have a problem with the “chick car” label. Some cars certainly skew heavily female, and women can be a target market.

            I just doubt that the 1-series is one of those cars. It has more in common with the 2002 than something such as the New Beetle, which had the numbers to support the claim that it really was a chick car.

          • 0 avatar
            old5.0

            See, if we just quit letting women drive, we could avoid all this unpleasantness.

        • 0 avatar
          VW16v

          Vogo, their are over 95 1-series at Carmax under the price of $25k. Most are under $20k. You don’t have to be offensive because you don’t like another person’s opinion. You probably agree that every kid on the soccer team should get a trophy, even if they didn’t win a game.

      • 0 avatar
        threeer

        Guess I’m a “chick” as I really love cars like the 128i and Miata…

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Exactly, JimZ. What does it say about a man when he spends a lot of time worrying about whether he’s coming across as masculine or not? Nothing good.

        That comment also would be well taken by a certain frequent contributor and sometime editor of this site.

      • 0 avatar
        VW16v

        Jim, I never said a 128 was a pos. But, show a girl a white 128 and ask them if they think it’s a chick car. They will first hesitate then give an answer. And it does not have anything to do with ones sexuality. Who cares if a white 128 is a chick car. It is still a bad ass little car.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          Since when is random girl the arbitrator of the meaning of “chick car”?

          • 0 avatar
            VW16v

            Ball, Ask your wife. If your confused.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            She says that the Focus ST and the GTI are chick cars because she liked driving them. Both of those cars skew heavily male.

          • 0 avatar
            VW16v

            Bball, I respect her opinion. But, I think you offended many on this site. Surprisingly many are very insecure when their car is associated with being a “chick car”.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            I just asked my wife what she thought. She said (direct quote) “Nice BMW. It would look good on you.”

            I’m a 5’10” 200# male. I think that translates to “not a chick car.”

            Edit: At this point, according to my wife, the chick-iest cars out there are all small CUVs.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I agree with her CUV opinion. I’d exempt the Porsche Macan from that list. I think it counts as a compact.

          • 0 avatar
            RideHeight

            “the chick-iest cars out there are all small CUVs”

            I drive a chick car!

            And I once put the other guy in the hospital with a chipped vertebra (witnesses got me off).

            RAAAAHR!

    • 0 avatar
      DeadWeight

      VW16v would much rather have a “manly” Ford Fiesta STi.

      You come race me, brah!

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        Like my wife’s “chick” Vibe which she used to teach ME to drive stick or her dad’s 1972 Chevy pickup with “Armstrong” power steering that all 5’3″ her would drive to high school on occasion to show they boys they weren’t the only ones who could drive trucks.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Kinda like a Jetta, except not actually a cute little chick car at all.

    • 0 avatar
      squidge

      My ex had a red 2001 Cabrio. I drove it with the top down a couple times. Nothing else will ever phase me as a chick car — I peaked early.

  • avatar
    energetik9

    My wife has this car in a pretty well loaded, sport package equipped, convertible variant. It’s a blast to drive and I will tell you, it has been incredibly reliable. Other than tires and normal maintenance, we have not spent a dime on the car and we’ve owned it 5 years now. I recently had a BMW 228 loaner from an oil change and other than a little added space, I far preferred my wife’s 128. More edgy, better steering, and inline 6.

    I also was able to do some track time in the 135 version at the BMW facility some years ago. I came away pretty impressed. This car is nimble and well balanced.

    Even better, for a guy that’s 6’3″, I have zero issues with legroom or headroom in this car. Nice choice!

  • avatar
    Damski

    128 was my first choice to replace my aging E36 but couldn’t find a manual transmission within 700 miles. Went with a Cayman instead,which i am very happy with, but I still want that 128 with a manual!

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    This is indeed the swan song to the BMW we used to know. I am still a little sad the 1M didn’t have a big S38 style ~4.0L naturally aspirated I6. That would have been sick.

    Can you really fit a rear facing infant seat in the back seat? That’s pretty crazy. My wife and I are hoping to have kids soon, and while I’m happy with my Civic I do daydream about its eventual replacement. I like this but crossed it off the list because of the infant seat issue. That is good to know though.

    • 0 avatar
      squidge

      I had my doubts about it too, but it works! I went to some effort to find the most compact setup possible (Cybex Aton seat and base without load arm) but it works really well. I’m 6’1″ and didn’t have to make any compromises on my seat positioning. https://goo.gl/photos/59HPh1xmjSky9NPY7

      • 0 avatar
        30-mile fetch

        I’m duly impressed, I wouldn’t have guessed it possible to maintain a driving position for someone your height. Very cool little family car, congrats.

        • 0 avatar
          squidge

          I should note that we also have a V70 that does most of the kid-hauling. We only drive the 128 as a family when it’s more of an occasion, but it’s nice to have the option.

    • 0 avatar
      Alfisti

      Sorry youre still screwed. Before you know it you ha e two kids and you cannot fit the rear facing in the middle as the seats are too narrow.

      We have an x1 and. 9-3 wagon and we cannot make it work.

      • 0 avatar
        squidge

        My six year old fits on a backless booster next to the middle-mounted, rear-facing seat. I could even put another kid behind me. :)

        You’re right that the setup constantly evolves as they grow, though. I know there will be periods of time where it’s more and less comfortable. This’ll never be our primary family car, it’s mostly a fun car for me that I can call more practical than a BRZ or an S2000.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        if kids are something which happen “before you know it” you probably shouldn’t have slept through health class.

    • 0 avatar
      hubcap

      “I am still a little sad the 1M didn’t have a big S38 style ~4.0L naturally aspirated I6.”

      I’d like to see that in the upcoming M2!

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        I would have liked to see the M2 with about a 375hp twin turbo 2.5L version of the 4-cyl N20. Truly the e30 M3’s great, great, great grandson at that point. And the 2002 Turbos. Make it with some gnarly turbo lag for more authenticity. What a rush that would be!

  • avatar
    squidge

    I’m glad you guys are enjoying the car and write-up!

    Here’s a quick-and-dirty video so you can hear the in-car noises: https://youtu.be/NWOKnkNQJY8

    And here’s a gallery that includes interior photos: https://goo.gl/photos/yVTiyTgXkDo1sLNU9

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      Did you replace the wheels, or did it come with those? I can’t remember the wheels on the last 1-Series I saw, but I feel like they’re normally more chunky/thicker spokes.

      • 0 avatar
        squidge

        These are the optional 313 wheels, the ones that come standard on the 135is. You’re right, they’re not typically on a 128i. The car was ordered this way as far as I know, as it’s got factory Dunlop RFTs.

        I’m honestly probably swapping to a 17″ setup, as I can lose about 12 pounds per corner if I choose wisely, and save money on tires.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          Sounds like a good plan. Get some thicker spokes while you’re at it! I feel like since the sides of the car have very little curvature or ornamentation, a nice chunkier wheel plants the car visually, dragging the eyes from the expanse of plain white.

  • avatar
    iNeon

    I looked at one of these recently while shopping and just couldn’t take the plunge. Its adorable, has a nice oldschool engine and isn’t as easily-insulted as the vehicle I chose instead.

    No warranty scared me away, even though the car only had 40k miles. It was a 2011 model.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    “The sunroof was also a mandatory option on early builds, ballooning the weight and price while decreasing driving pleasure and reliability.”

    SUCH DRAMA OMGZ

    The sunroof adds maybe 5 pounds, and I guarantee you won’t be able to tell the difference between a sunroof-equipped and non-equipped model in a blind drive test (where you can’t look up) unless you are either a BMW test driver or over 6’3″.

    Other than that nitpick, nice review.

    • 0 avatar
      squidge

      Sunroofs are always a point of contention, but any weight mounted at the top of the car is bad for handling, and I want as few things that can break as possible. I’ve owned versions of the same car with and without sunroof in the past (two different Galant VR-4s) and I just like the simplicity more than the sun on my head. I’m not saying I could tell the handling difference in a blind test, but all the little things add up.

      • 0 avatar
        DeadWeight

        I never used any sunroof more than twice; it’s near-useless with the exception of adding some light to the interior during the day (but why?), and has none of the benefits of a convertible top, IMO, while diminishing headroom.

        It also is effectively a hole cut in top of the roof, which can and is known to leak, get plugged up (drainholes), rattle (accessories to it), and is associated with other various issues.

        • 0 avatar
          dal20402

          “(but why?)”

          If you had spent 30+ winters in The Land of Dark and Drizzly, that wouldn’t be a question.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Bingo! I ordered my M235i without the sunroof because I don’t fit otherwise, but I miss the hole in the roof every time I drive the car.

          • 0 avatar
            sportyaccordy

            A fair point. Sunroofs were an absolute necessity for me in NYC, but down here in NC I keep mine closed. You just may have helped me realize why. Well that and the fact that I have a motorcycle now. I only got my current car with a sunroof because that was the only way to get disc brakes.

      • 0 avatar
        redmondjp

        Not to mention the fact that in most cases, the sunroof lowers front seat headroom by at least an inch if not more. This is an issue for 6’+ people such as myself – on my so-equipped 1996 Passat, I have to either recline the seat uncomfortably too far to the back, or lean to the left, in order to not be touching the headliner that drops down under the track.

    • 0 avatar
      Damski

      The sunroof mechanism weighs closer to 40 pounds, and mounted at the highest point in the car will contribute to body roll. Also as you mentioned, it robs over an inch of head room which often is the difference of fitting in a car with a helmet on or not. It wouldn’t stop me from buying this as a street only car but if I had any intention of tracking or auto crossing it would be a deal breaker.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Having carried a junkyard sunroof assembly I find it impossible to believe that the one in the 128i weighs 40 pounds. I was probably off with “5 pounds” but the one I was carrying was certainly no more than 15. And that’s before the missing metal from the roof.

        • 0 avatar
          burgersandbeer

          The glass is heavier than the steel it replaces.

          I agree it was needless drama though. I thought I was reading something on a forum and almost stopped at that line.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Where are you getting 5 lbs for a sunroof? These aren’t lift-out moonroofs. The mechanism for adjusting the roof panel alignment of a sunroof BMW probably weighs 5 lbs by itself. OTOH, it is needless drama. Most people seem to want sunroofs, even if they never use them.

    • 0 avatar
      Snavehtrebor

      Yeah Dal, that was my “huh?” too. I’m 6’2″ and use the sunroof in my E92 11 months out of the year. Never had one leak or fail either.

  • avatar
    tomLU86

    Lucky man! Last of the “real” BMWs…optioned perfectly. Thanks for sharing!

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    I certainly miss the I6 in my departed MY04 BMW 325i. Fast? No. But that engine… so smooth and good torque all throughout the band with the 5-speed manual. A good handler too. It was a driver’s car – connecting me to the road more than anything else I’ve owned before.

    I was eyeing a 228i for my next car but reality – fixing up a house and a teenage son who is now taller than me – took that dream away. *sigh*

  • avatar
    Brock_Landers

    Sorry but the E82 is just plain ugly. Most BMW coupes are successful designs, but this one is really badly proportioned. I personally believe the best example of “last of the NA straight 6 era” non M car is E86 Z4 3.0si coupe. It looks stunning and drives and feels like a true sportscar.

  • avatar
    mamil

    I lucked into almost exactly this car in December 2013, looking for a replacement for a Subaru. The dealer was clearing out room for the 228s, and nobody seems to have caught on to the fact that the naturally aspirated engines were going the way of the Dodo, so I paid well under invoice. Mine is likewise stripped down. I do have the sunroof, which I confess to like — even closed (but shade retracted), it adds to the feeling of openness in the cockpit. I do not have leather. I have nearly quit driving cars at all in recent years, but I love driving the 128i. Even a trip to the grocery when I do not get out of third gear is a pleasurable experience.

    • 0 avatar
      squidge

      So yours is an M-Sport as well? I love the black headliner and I’m sure it’s nice to have the option to open the sunroof. I wouldn’t have passed on buying this car if it had a sunroof, but I also appreciate the advantages of not having it.

      And nice find, btw. You know you’ve found a good car when a quick jaunt to the grocery store makes you happy.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    I really like the 1-series a lot, and that is a sweet find you have there.

    But I disagree about it being the last of the line. The 2-series is a worthy successor and then some. The N52 is a lovely engine (I own one of those too), but so is the N20. More powerful AND more economical is a very nice combination. And the four is more in keeping with the 2002 ethos, even with the hairdryer attached. The N52 makes a lovely noise when you wind it up, but the problem is you HAVE to wind it up to make rapid progress.

    I may be getting old, but I appreciate a little comfort even in my toy cars. I even sprung for the NAV system this time. The only thing that made me get an M235i over an M-sport 228i was the ability to get a reasonable equipment level without the sunroof (though the extra 90hp doesn’t suck). Which I would love to have, but don’t fit with. What got me to buy new vs. a used 1-series is European Delivery. I like the funkiness of the 1er.

    • 0 avatar
      squidge

      I’ve heard great things about the N20, and have a friend with one, but haven’t had a chance to drive a 228 yet. I cut my teeth on early ’90s Mitsubishis, so I feel like I’ve done my turbo four time and don’t see the need to revisit it. It’s really weird how that was a rare configuration 20 years ago, and it’s now becoming the norm. SUVs and large sedans with turbo fours? Bah…

      The catch is that they’re more economical in EPA MPG testing, but real world, unless you stay out of boost, which is nigh-impossible with the tiny snails they’re using to make the engines feel NA, you’re not really saving much fuel.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Just because Ford and some others can’t get turbos quite right doesn’t mean BMW (and Saab before them) can’t. I own an N52 car, and have a logged a lot of miles in the N20 cars, both 328i and 228i form. The N20 is far more economical, as well as being much faster in the real world. My last N20 328i was in suburban Atlanta, I had no trouble getting 30mpg for the week, My N52-equipped 328i only gets 25 in similar conditions.

        For that matter, my N55 (six cylinder turbo) car gets just about the same real world mileage as my N52 car. With an extra 90hp (that I have been known to use). It’s not 1990 anymore. And some of the difference between the two is probably down to the bigger stickier tires on the N55 car.

        • 0 avatar
          squidge

          You make great points.

          I’ve definitely noticed that the fuel eocnomy on this car is pretty similar to the N54 that was in my E90 335i, around town especially.

          Turbos have their advantages, but the linearity of a normally aspirated engine is a wonderful thing too. Choices are good, and I’m mostly a bit sad that it’ll be harder to make these choices ten years from now.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          The N20 is toast after 4600 RPM. If you never go up that high, then it won’t matter.

          The 328i Aero isn’t a bad car, but it isn’t going to satisfy people that want their engine to pull to the ceiling.

    • 0 avatar
      sportyaccordy

      Torque is good, but for a fun car like a BMW I would sacrifice some for a nicer, more engaging engine note and power band. I have had a few 3.0L Maximas…. they wouldn’t tear your face off but they got out of their own way. And with an exhaust they more than made up for the lack of speed. I am imagining the N20 to be like the EA888…. definitely gets the job done with regards to getting up to speed, but doesn’t make doing so as much fun as say, an N52 or the old VR6s. For a road trip car I think that would be ideal but for a daily driver or fun car I need something that speaks to me.

      I think my pick of this whole litter would be an E90 335i or an old G37 6MT.

      • 0 avatar
        EAF

        I don’t have much experience with BMW’s N20 but VW’s EA888 is a slow turd out of the box that also happens to be a POS just like its predecessor. I do enjoy BMW straight 6’s and have owned, worked, supercharged and turbocharged many (S52, S50, M52, M50).

        I very much like the N52; the feel, the smoothness, the power delivery. I also like that the 30 degree tilt is now gone and DI need not apply. I have had to replace a half dozen water pumps on these PITA. Also, a couple with injectors stuck closed. I have heard about some with noisy lifters but I have not come across any personally. Seems like a reliable engine.

        Squid, nothing wrong with 90’s Mitsubishi. My 4G63 is currently @ 225k miles. The trick is 93 octane plus don’t get greedy and turn the boost up sooooo damn high! Lol

        Rant over.

      • 0 avatar
        hubcap

        “I think my pick of this whole litter would be an E90 335i or an old G37 6MT.”

        I’d go for a 2013 Boss 302. A V8, naturally aspirated, high revving assault on the senses.

  • avatar
    Der_Kommissar

    I drove the 135i a few years back when my wife bought me a trip to the BMW performance driving school in SC back for my 40th BD- loved the car. I would think the 128 is a bit lower in 0-60, but not as much as the E90 328 to 335 comparison due to the differences in weight and such. Great car, and a true keeper.

    • 0 avatar
      squidge

      Yep, that’s pretty much it. A manual 128i’s 0-60 should be around 5.8 seconds, about a second behind the 135i.

      When I had an E90 335 a few years ago, the loaner 328 I got while it was in for service felt like a total slug. Granted, I was also comparing manual to auto there too.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        The auto N52 32Xi IS a slug. One of the worst pairings of engine and transmission in modern times. You have an engine that makes peak power at the 7000rpm redline, and an automatic that absolutely refuses to let it rev. And of course, any loaner is going to have the cheapest possible low octane gas in it, which exacerbates the problem.

        Which is all the more reason the much torquier N20 is the better engine for the average buyer who wants an automatic. Though I do wonder what the N52 would be like with a ZF 8spd bolted behind it.

        The N52 is glorious with a stickshift though. And like angels singing Wagner with the BMW Performance Exhaust system.

        • 0 avatar
          squidge

          I installed the performance exhaust today. :)

          https://goo.gl/photos/nQjLm6XWsAnwpqmr6

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            Ah, now I have the urge to go polish my tips! Well done!

            I did the BMW Performance Intake as well. Which is STUPID expensive for what it is, but adds that much more to the sound, and no warranty hassles. The car might not BE any faster with the intake and exhaust, but it sure sounds like it is faster.

            I don’t feel anything like the need to upgrade the exhaust on the M235i, it sounds just right out of the box, fake noises or not. The 328i was just too quiet. Just right now.

          • 0 avatar
            hubcap

            @krhodes1

            Is BMW using fake exhaust noise across the board?

            I though it was only the M cars that got that particular treatment.

        • 0 avatar
          Der_Kommissar

          I had one (i.e. the N52 in a 328i)- you really had to know how to drive it, and even then that was not always enough. It was a great commuter car, in that the combo of ride quality/handling/speed/MPG was very good for the time. BUT- if you focused on any one of those alone you would be disappointed. The transmission was the dog, as it was always wanting to find a more efficient gear. You had to hit the accelerator mid way to find the best point for torque without pushing hard enough to make it shift. In all honesty, my Mazda 3s feels about the same, it just has the ride quality of a riced out civic when commuting. But the 2.5 4 cylinder feels a lot like the N52. Still- I always figured the N52 would be a sweet engine in the lighter 128i.

  • avatar

    I knew about i128, but I missed the boat while it was still available, because I was stingy. It really was expensive when new.

  • avatar
    ajla

    Somewhere along the way BMW (and Ferrari) fans lost their love of screamers in preference for the Saab or big-block Chevelle experience.

  • avatar
    badhobz

    Great review!

    My wife has a 2008 128i and was one of the first “year of the 1” canadians to receive it. We’ve had it since 2008 and it now has only 30,000 miles or so on it.

    Other than the recall for a MAF sensor it’s been reliable. No out of warranty anything. Compared to my buddy’s e90 M3 which spends 2 months out of every year in the shops, this thing has been bullet proof. The straight six pulls hard and the steer is telepathic.

    However there are a few downsides to it.

    The stock seats are basically stone slabs. We didnt option for the sports seats and ive regretted that every single day i drive her car. The stock seats have very limited motions and are thin and rock hard. Not comfortable for long distances.

    The engine revs smoothly but still feels unrefined compared to the Lexi’s we own (es350/sc430). Something about the initial tip in of the throttle causes the engine to both sound and act very twitchy. This transmit into the cabin.

    The standard run flats we had on it were terrible. The seats are like a stone slab and add to the fact that you feel every single pebble on the road, it was the perfect setup for backpain.

    Build quality and interior materials are also quite subpar. My 2002 sc which has a lot more miles doesnt rattle about inside but the 128 with only 30,000 already has squeaky: armrest, sunvisors, dash trim, seat belts, and a myriad of other annoying noises.

  • avatar
    cognoscenti

    I really enjoyed this review, thanks! I must be the only person who is actually shopping used E82 128i, E90 328i, and E90 M3 against each other. I have twenty reasons to prefer each over the other and can’t make up my mind.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      That’s a question with no wrong answer.

      Though personally, I don’t care for M cars all that much. Too much muchness. I don’t need to go that fast.

    • 0 avatar
      Kevin Jaeger

      I appreciate the review as well and I keep telling myself this is exactly the car I should have for when I store my Miata for the winter. And yet the styling just seems a little off to me.

      I’ve come close to pulling the trigger on an E92 328i, but this review makes a strong case for a 128i. I should at least take one for a test drive. I really like all the specs on paper.

      • 0 avatar
        squidge

        Agreed on the “muchness” — I like have something that won’t get me arrested for actually winding out. Glad you guys enjoyed the review!

        • 0 avatar
          outback_ute

          That point was one of the things I liked about the review, as well as the 70% comment about mountain road driving; got to allow for what might be around the corner! You make a good case for the car, too bad you didn’t get the hatch over there.

          On the looks front the 1 may be a bit polarising, but better than the new 1! Prior to the recent facelift anyway.

      • 0 avatar
        Der_Kommissar

        I’d take a 128i over a e92 328i every day of the week plus three more. Why get the e92? Its slower, and its ergonomics in the cockpit are worse. If you need the slightly better rear seat space, you need a sedan anyway.

  • avatar
    RicInRVA

    Couple months ago I snagged a 2012 128i Sport Titanium 6 speed manual with the Coral red and EVERY SINGLE option you could get, except the cold weather and the GM sourced automatic. It still has heated seats…just no silly pop up washers. New it was more than many 3 series!! Less than 40k miles and under $20k in perfect condition. Owned by a Grandma with impeccable taste.

    I come from an old brit car background up through E30s, Spec E30’s, kart racing, autocross, trackdays, Dirt Bikes, sport bikes. Daily driver was a Mini Cooper S for years. I know a good thing when I see it.

    Every day I own this car I love it more and more. I love the handling, I love the funky looks, The gorgeous paint and interior, the more than adequate but not overwhelming power, the interior, the Harmon Kardon sound, the sport seats in red. I even like the heavy headroom robbing sunroof. I love the old school steering feel, the fact it has no turbos or HPFP….just a big old straight six sucking air like you and me!!!

    One thing I hated that you must fix and is free. Get rid of the CLUTCH DELAY VALE NOW!!!!!!

    Its like you crossed a 325is E30 with a modern BMW.

    Did I tell you I freaking love this car????

    It is an instant cult classic and will remain so.

  • avatar

    The car looks like it could be fun. The lower wheelbase area still reminds me of the midsection of my neutered cat. I was hoping they’d have fixed that by now.

  • avatar
    Brock_Landers

    The whole BMW straight six natural aspiration romance doesnt really have a valid point with modern cars. When cars were lighter (and unsafer) then straight six engines from 2.5L and up were sufficent providing enough torque to move the cars adequately back then. 3.0 E60 with n52 and n53 was starting to feel already a bit hollow at wot because of the weight of the car. So the only way how to keep emissions low and acceleration sufficent with heavier bmw models was to go the turbo route.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      Unless there is some inherit limitation to the configuration I am unaware of, I find it difficult to believe that BMW could not have built an enjoyable, tractable, and economical naturally-aspirated I6 with around 325hp.

      Plus, are the Z4 and 2-series really any heavier than an E36? And I thought the F30 weighed less than the E90.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        The most powerful N/A 3.0L non-M six BMW sold in the US is the ~265hp variable intake version of the N52. In other markets they sold a direct injection version (N53, I think) that has ~275hp. In the M cars they got well over 300hp with the e46 M3, but at the cost of FAR more expensive maintenance and servicing.

        The problem is you can get a pile of hp out of an N/A 3.0L engine, but you can’t get a pile of torque out of one. Even that DI version had less than 250lb-ft. The N20 turbo 4 has an (underrated)258, at lower rpm. The turbo sixes have 300+, at even lower rpm. If you want torque, you have to go bigger, or go turbo. But then you are into the realm of V8s or larger sixes with their attendant city fuel economy penalty, regardless of how well they can do nominally on the highway.

        The F3X is about the SAME weight as the e9X, model for model. Which was an accomplishment given how much bigger it is. The official weights of my M235i and e91 328i are within a few pounds of each other (3505 for the 2, 3525 for the 3 wagon. It’s actually a noticeably bigger car, other than in length. All of them are much heavier than an e36, which were around 2900lbs (which was porkier than the e30 that preceded it). Even a base no-options 228i is 3295bs with a stickshift (roughly the same weight as a base 328i sedan).

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          I meant to write E46 (which from archived road tests look to have been 3200-3300lbs), not E36.

          And, yes they would have needed to go with a higher displacement I6 to keep its output competitive. That probably would have been fine for North American buyers, but is a bad move in many of BMW’s International markets.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            It would have been bad here too – CAFE, don’t ya know. And you still wouldn’t get the torque out of a bigger six that you get from a smaller turbo four.

            There is a reason most makers are right around .5L/cylinder – it has proven to be the most efficient size.

            I find it interesting that the city EPA rating on a 240hp 2016 328i is higher than the highway rating on a 165hp 1990 325i. A car that is about 1000lbs lighter. Ain’t modern technology great?

  • avatar
    baconator

    Yup, truly the last of a breed with the NA inline-6. Enjoy the car!

  • avatar
    kosmo

    I owned this car in the 2011 version. Two options: Sport Package and metallic paint (I chose car, wife chose color).

    I sold it after two years.

    STUPID, STUPID, STUPID!

    Enjoy yours!

  • avatar
    jdmcomp

    I found my car, a 2008 Merc C300 with AMG suspension and front, side and rear facia, 6 speed manual and beautiful condition. A real drivers car, Mars Red and black interior. No other options to mess with the experience. I could do without the sunroof but I doubt the car was ever made without one. Pleasant every day, affordable, and joyful.

    • 0 avatar
      kvndoom

      I really should take the time to find and drive a C300 6MT before I go and order an Accord this summer. That car was high on my list for a good while but I always worry about the whole German + no warranty combo.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    Great work landing a used car optioned the way you like btw. I’ve been looking around to change cars and I find it so difficult I’m entertaining automatics :-( Whenever I think I need to insist on exactly what I want, I remind myself that I could be looking for a year or so to find it (or buying unseen and paying for shipping). It doesn’t help that many sellers want ridiculous premiums for manuals. While I will pay more for one, there are limits.

    • 0 avatar
      supernova72

      I recently moved from an E46 M3 6MT car to a used M235i. What a fantastic car. It took me almost a year to find a 6MT car but I’m glad I waited.

      Live in Seattle WA and the car came from N Carolina. It is a dream to drive (N55 engine). The power is very impressive from the “twin scroll” turbine.

  • avatar
    SomeGuy

    Nice car OP. I would advise ditching the “glam” slotted / drilled brakes, for slotted only or blanks. Your pads, and rotors will thank you.


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