By on April 21, 2008


After testing BMW 135i and 335i coupes back-to-back, I can reveal that there are only two good reasons to purchase the smaller, cheaper car. Either you need a track day machine or you're an idiot. Otherwise, spend the extra bucks and buy the 335i coupe. The 335i coupe is more attractive, more enjoyable to drive, holds its value better and offers far more real road usability than the 135i. If BMW had made the 135i as a lightweight, no-frills, Bahn-burning turbo rocket ship, they would have created a truly unique, desirable automobile. But they didn't.

Walking up to my 135i tester, it greeted me with the usual Bimmer face that I love. Staring straight into its double-kidney shaped aggression, I thought that maybe the photos really didn't do the car justice. Reaching the side of the vehicle, I nearly dropped my Starbucks latte in disgust.

p0037579.JPGJust three days prior, I was in Germany on an Air Force operation. I saw all manner of 1-Series hatches on the autobahn, in their natural element, looking graceful at over 240km/h. What I saw upon my return was a transmogrified beast. Not quite a coupe, not quite a hatch; a car that took all the worst styling cues from both. I hated it. The baristas hated it. TSgt Gasaway hated it. Ashleigh and Shannon at my apartment tower hated it. It really is an ugly car.

While sharing the same face, the 335i looks like Catharine Zeta Jones by comparison. I'm no fan of Bangle designs, but the 335i coupe is Bimmer's best melding of power and grace to date.

The 135i's dash harkened back to the driver-focused BMW's of yore. Nestling into the exquisite brown leather sports seats, contemplating the simple, elegant design, I nearly forgot about the 135i's hideous outside. Nearly. My only [Jay Shoemaker-esque] gripe: cheap sun visors that would make Hyundai blush. Oh, and the nominal rear seats.

p0024423.JPGThe 335i's cabin can't match the 135i for clarity of purpose. To wit: iDrive. The huge hump protruding from the 335i's dash not only ruins the lines, but it provides bombardiers and other gadget freaks with an irresistible distraction– to the point where I nearly tested my insurance agent's religious tolerance (i.e. "accident forgiveness"). Of course, the 335i also gets props for adult-compatible rear accommodations.

Munich's twin-turbo, 3.0-liter straight six powers both vehicles. This powerplant should be revered as temples of VANOS. Both 300hp engines scream, Siren-like, beckoning pistonheads to pilot them on a wild journey of legendary proportions. The 135i outruns the 335i, but only just. Side-by-side, the 135i pulled away initially, to about a car length, but lost a bit of ground when both cars shifted into second gear (5.2secs v 5.6secs 0 – 60).

p0037611.JPGBoth testers were auto-box equipped. Quick, smooth, and always at the perfect ratio, the cog-swappers nearly made me surrender my manual mantra. As previously reported, the 135i's auto feels cheaper and slower-witted than the sublime ZF-equipped 335i.

Step on the powerful, easily modulated brakes, toss the cars into a turn and you soon realize only one makes the driver look like they know what they're doing. The 335i never loses its composure. Even broken pavement fails to upset the chassis; the harder you push it, the more it rewards. At the limit, the 335i begs for you to push harder. When you do lose it, just dial in some opposite lock and steer with the throttle. The 335i does everything with poise and grace.

p0024448.JPGThe 135i tells a very different story. On the track, the 135i has no rival. The 135i laughs at the STI and Evo's AWD systems, hangs out its rear end around the corners, and then snaps back in line. The fun ends there. On the real road, the 135i continually fights the driver with heavy steering and an extremely twitchy nature. Where the 335i has suspension control over all surfaces, the 135i bucks and snaps like a cheap Kia. The 135i never flatters the driver; it darts around like a fat, over-caffeinated cheerleader. Alternatively, I felt like a hormone-crazed 16-year-old with a freshly-minted license who'd just "borrowed" someone else's 70's car.

At $43k ($36k base), the 135i is not your average enthusiast's idea of "entry level." For about $4k more (options on both the 1 and 3-series are the same price), or 10 percent of the 135i's purchase price, well-heeled coupe buyers can acquire the more spacious and better-styled 335i. They'd give up a bit of speed for a car that makes you look (and feel) like Sabine Schmitt cruising the Nurburgring.

p0037586.JPGThe poorly-packaged BMW 135i proved too difficult (read: unrewarding) to drive in daily situations. If the 335i didn't exist, you could make a pretty good case for the magnificently-engined 135i. But it does so you can't.

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68 Comments on “2008 BMW 135i vs. 335i Review...”

  • avatar

    Excellent comparison. Makes me wish I’d driven the 135i back-to-back with the 335i–and with less on my mind. (My primary computer had refused to boot that morning.)

    This comparison reminds me just how excellent the 335i is. When I first drove the E90, I was amazed by how intuitive it was to drive, and how well it covered for sloppiness at the wheel. There are perhaps no better cars for driving quickly on an unfamiliar road.

    I must say, though, that the 135i’s heavy steering is somewhat nice to see after sampling so many cars–including some older BMWs–with overly light steering. An overcorrection?

    TrueDelta’s been providing reliability information on the 3 for some time now. Hoping to do the same for the 1. Though reviews like this one aren’t going to help the owner pool available for participation.

  • avatar

    The 135i never flatters the driver; it darts around like a fat, over-caffeinated cheerleader. Alternatively, I felt like a hormone-crazed 16-year-old with a freshly-minted license who’d just “borrowed” someone else’s 70’s car.

    That actually sounds possibly fun (if the car cost under $35K.)

    Is that just in comparison to the 335i and other German cars? Or, is it comparable to Mustang GT500 in levels of dartiness?

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz


    I can’t speak for Mike, but I’ll tell you that my experience is just that they’re different. The Evo and STI are incomparable to the 135i in the way they drive. So I think the 135i laughs because it provides loads of grip but would be willing to power slide – especially on a track – in comparison to the Evo and STI control freaks.

  • avatar

    Stuttgart’s twin-turbo

    Isn’t BMW based in Munich? I thought Stuttgart’s auto manufacturer was the one with the star logo.

  • avatar

    I’ve never been a fan of the 3-Series coupe’s styling. Although it’s been spared from the worst parts of Bangelization, I’ve always found it boring-looking at best, and “this could be a Tiburon” at worst. This might be nitpicking, but the way the cutline at the lower-rear edge of the door doesn’t line up with the rocker-panel cutline from the door to the front of the rear weel arch has always really bothered me

    But seeing the 335i next to the disgustingly-proportioned 135i makes the 335i look like a Ferrari in comparison

  • avatar

    “The 135i laughs at the STI and Evo’s AWD systems.”

    I found this comment surprising as well. I have a buddy with a 335i and I have an older STi (05, vs his 07 335i) and while I respect his car it’s so much less practical. He couldn’t find winter tires for it at tire rack while I had multiple choices. 0-60’s are roughly the same (the article had low to mid 5’s where I’ve read both high 4’s for 335 & STi). The quarter the 335i finished up a bit in speed (maybe 3-5mph faster than the STi) and IMHO it comes down to the awd/price vs torquey fun/elegance of the 335i.

    I went for price, he went for torque. We both enjoy our wheels.

  • avatar
    Justin Berkowitz


    Yep, you caught a typo. It’s corrected now.

  • avatar

    Great review. This was pretty much the conclusion I came to when these cars came about. The 135i isn’t as practical, isn’t that much cheaper and as you stated, probably won’t hold its value as well as the 3 series (which should prove to be a bonus for buyers looking for 2nd hand 1 series coupes as dedicated track machines). I’d rather fork over the extra cash for the 335i than have eternal regret for buying the 135i.

    Matter of fact, now that I think about it, I could get a 335i now and wait a few years for a bargain-priced used 135i to use on the track.

  • avatar

    I felt much the same about the i series after seeing them in europe. the hatch is a respectable machine, and decontented, its a great sort of reasonable runabout. i supose we will never see that one here, they imported the ugly one.

  • avatar

    I guess I should hope for more reviews like this so it will be easier to get a 135 below MSRP. So the 135i will depreciate more than the 335i in the United States? Based on what empirical information?

    Historically the cheaper (non hatch) luxury cars are a brand’s best seller, 3 series, A4, C-class, etc. give it a couple of years and we’ll see if the 1 series takes over that place or if it is relegated to a niche vehicle. The 128 will be a volume seller, poser will need apply and the 135 will be for enthusiast.

  • avatar

    I guess BMW got so burned by the cheap ($20k then) but fun 318ti hatch from 10 years ago that they’re not going there again. Instead, we get the 135i.

  • avatar

    This might be nitpicking, but the way the cutline at the lower-rear edge of the door doesn’t line up with the rocker-panel cutline from the door to the front of the rear weel arch has always really bothered me

    Thanks for explaining to me exactly why I always thought “there was something strange” about the 3 coupe styling from a side view.

    Still, I’m starting to like the design of the E92 more and more, especially in some of the lighter colors. As for the 1-series coupe, not so much…at least in the convertible that roofline is gone making it a little better looking but I still prefer the hatch.

    The darty handling and weighty steering don’t seem like too bad things though. They are just consequences of what BMW wanted this car to be (a fun, fast, nimble car, even moreso than the 3 series already is).

    Unfortunately they also made it much to heavy, which meant they had to put this engine in it, which makes it too expensive, while it is still ugly and impractical.

    All this makes it tough to see who is going to buy this in great numbers, especially with the aforementioned convertible also on offer, which in turn seems to have better chances against the overly heavy and metal folding roof 3 series convertible.

  • avatar
  • avatar
    Joe O

    Ok, I’m going to come across as a 1-defender here.

    You lost some credit when you said the 1 didn’t hold it’s value as well. It just launched; how would we know? So far, BMW finance which decides the residuals on the leases is saying the 1-series will hold it’s value slightly better over time than the 3-series.


    135 w/ sport package and destination: $36,675 MSRP
    335 coupe w/ sport package and destionation: $43,150 MSRP

    That’s ~18% difference in price. That’s huge.

    I definitely agree that the 335i coupe is stunning compared to the 135i. It just flows.

    But I don’t understand the steering and suspension complaints. Maybe because it’s a different chassis? I can’t remember if BMW used the same steering system, but I know they used the same suspension. Both ride on the same brand run-flat performance tires (did one car have the sport package and the other didn’t? That would increase the possibility of different sized wheels and different brand tires)

    From what I understand, BMW actually softened the dampening in the 135i compared to the 335i….so why is this car harsher?

    I don’t know, I guess I have to drive them. But there have been two reviews now commenting on the price of the vehicle and both times have been off; see my above comments about the 18% price difference.

    At least you can say “Hey, the 135 twitches like a heroine addict after 3 days in rehab, steers like a novocaine’d bicuspid, and is about as well put together as Piccaso, but you saved $6k to make yourself feel better.”


  • avatar

    If the 3 series did not exist, reviews of the 1 would be more positive.

    The 1’s ride does seem busies than the 3’s. The shorter wheelbase is the most likely reason. It’s not that much shorter, but a few inches can make a difference in this area.

    Personally, I want:
    –five-door hatch or wagon
    –2800-pound curb weight

    Can anyone deliver this?

  • avatar

    Nice video?

    Just showing off how Rich Middle Eastern can afford the EVO and BMW 3 series and race them on the street without giving a damn about their cars (hitting people).

    Do we really need to buy a BMW because it is a BMW?

    The writer made me think.

    I can a buy a Timberland shoes with better quality and cheaper than a Pierre Cardin shoes.

    Why settle for anything else?

  • avatar

    Very interesting read…

    I’m currently selling my E36 M3 track car and already I’m wondering what I would replace it with when I have time again to instruct at driving schools and attend events.

    My first choice is probably a ’93-94 Porsche RS America.

    But a very close second (without having driven the car yet) could be the 135i – especially if the rumoured tii version appears.

    I attended a press evening at the NYIAS last month and the BMW stand had the new M3 and the 135i; surprisingly, I found the 1-series drawing my attention more than the M3. But neither drew my attention as much as the upcoming M3 race car or the Merdedes McLaren SLR 722 at the MB stand!

  • avatar

    # Michael Karesh :
    April 21st, 2008 at 10:39 am

    “Personally, I want:
    –five-door hatch or wagon
    –2800-pound curb weight

    Can anyone deliver this?”

    WRX–remove the front half shafts tokyo drift style

  • avatar

    Was the 135i designed by the same fella who was fired from Toyota for designing the hideous Echo?

  • avatar

    Yep probably your best bet. You won’t find sub 3,000lb cars much anymore unless it’s a two-seater. Its the trade-off we pay for being able to wrap a car around a pole and having a reasonable chance of being alive.

  • avatar
    Jonny Lieberman

    You drink lattes?

  • avatar

    @ Michael Karesh,

    As for the review, I appreciate the comparison as I’m considering both of these vehicles for future purchase. I haven’t had a chance to drive the 135i yet, but I do think it is getting rough reviews due to BMW’s unfulfilled promise of delivering the next 2002 rather than because the 135i isn’t a great car. Well and also due to the ugliness.

  • avatar

    My gut feeling is the 1 will make more sense vs the 3 in convertible form, both price and handling vise. It’s remarkable how much heavier and more fragile the 3vert feels vs the coupe.

  • avatar

    I’m sure Katharine Zeta-Jones spells her name Catherine Zeta-Jones.

    Good article though. The 1 does seem a bit off.

  • avatar

    If I have the money I will Buy the “135i”
    The 335i is very common out there.

    They are so common like the Honda Civic, Mazda 3 and Toyota Camry.

    I feel much better if I don’t see alot of look a like.

    I just saw 4 of them this morning on Route 9 and 95 North. probably another 3 more when I get back home this afternoon after the Boston Marathon.

  • avatar

    90% of the automotive world reviews so far are in love with the 1-series so far. Nice to see a negative review that can predict the future.

    The 135i is 37k nicely equipped. That’s comparable to a 45k 335?

  • avatar

    1-series could have been a great A3/GTI fighter, if only BMW wanted it to be one…

  • avatar


    I’m sure Katharine Zeta-Jones spells her name Catherine Zeta-Jones.

    My bad. Text amended.

  • avatar
    Turbo G

    Thanks for the great comparison! I expected these results as well.

  • avatar

    Why would anybody by a BMW with an automatic? Am I missing something? Isn’t it supposed to be a driver’s car not a rider’s car?

  • avatar

    The 1 series is meant to be the “Entry” level BMW plain and simple. It purpose was to bring down the cost of admission to the BMW brand below $30,000 in the USA. If it is BMW driving attributes that you are after than the 1 series does it job very well if you consider a 128i optioned to no more than $35,000. Once you price a 1 series beyond that amount the value propostion does begin to fall quite a bit.
    IMO the 1 series in the USA is all about the 128i, the 135i is simply a side show for those that want that bit of extra and do understand that they will be paying a premium for it. It is like the difference between a WRX and an STi. One makes a lot of sense in terms of bang for the buck the other makes almost zero sense to anyone but a serious enthusaist.

    I may be the oddball here but for the everyday really world the 135i is a bit of overkill, yeah it is super-fast but a 230hp 128i with a stick is where the real fun is at. 135i most likely feels unsettled in street driving because it was designed to be driven hard, something that can’t be done on an everyday basis for the majority of owners. On the otherhand the 128i can be flogged and beat on like a real BMWs is supposed to be. It can be revved hard and driven hard without running out of road like a 135i.

    Also, never, never forget about SIZE, while the 1 and 3 do weigh-in very close to each other the 1 series does have more favorable proportions. The 3 series coupe is rather large now and not a city friendly a 1 series (yes, a big deal to many).

  • avatar

    @Justin Berkowitz

    By that metric the v6 mustang also laughs at the STI and the EVO.

  • avatar

    whatdoiknow1, I completely agree. A 128i with sport package and nothing else is the best choice here. Just priced one at 31k. At the lower end, the price difference is much larger in terms of percentage. A comparably equipped 328i is 37.5k. That’s a very significant difference.

    But personally, I couldn’t live with the 1-series looks and impracticality. Maybe the next-gen will be good-looking. And maybe they’ll bring down the price and weight a little. But who am I kidding?

  • avatar

    The 1 series is meant to be the “Entry” level BMW plain and simple. It purpose was to bring down the cost of admission to the BMW brand below $30,000 in the USA. If it is BMW driving attributes that you are after than the 1 series does it job very well if you consider a 128i optioned to no more than $35,000. Once you price a 1 series beyond that amount the value propostion does begin to fall quite a bit.

    BMW are backed up to a cliff edge here. They have a lot of less expensive cars (1 & 3 series with smaller engines and other body styles) but once they go sub $30k in the US then the whole brand range loses it’s cachet for their core clientele of bank managers and Realtors who would rather buy Lexus than see the unwashed hordes driving in the same new car brand as them. Hence the US only gets the top end impractical 1’s with expensive options so BMW can widen their market without lowering their values.

  • avatar

    I just drove the 135i again at the BMW Ultimate Drive event on Saturday. I could see the NAV perfectly fine with my polarized Revo sunglasses. I have driven a 135i with the regular radio and it disappears with polarized lenses (although the A/C display does not do that), but it also does this in the E9x 3 series and probably other current BMWs. My E46 does not have this problem, but it’s not a complaint you can level at the 1 and then not mention the same problem in the 3.

    I’ve driven a 335i coupe/sedan in automatic form as well as the 135i twice in auto form and driven them at 8-9/10ths on the street. I found the auto to feel exactly the same and that is it is excellent. That is pretty good praise coming from somebody that has only owned 1 automatic in 5 cars and definitely didn’t want an automatic after that experience. Everything I have read indicates the 135 uses the same transmissions as the 3 series. The auto in the 128 is the same as in the 328, the auto in the 135 is the same as in the 335. This includes the manual transmissions.

    The steering is considered heavy according to the article, yet I was saying how it’s just the perfect weight and is similar to my E46 non-M. My car has the pre-2001 fubar lightened steering (somewhat fixed in ’02 and post-fixed in some ’01s at owner request). The steering is definitely lighter than in the E36 M3 (I used to own one).

    I also drove the E92 M3 in a “spirited” fashion and found myself preferring the 135i. Yes, the M3 has more ultimate grip and go, but I find the 135i more tossable and easier to place on a dime on the asphalt. The 135’s brakes also have better feel. The electronically adjustable suspension on the M3 handled very harsh/sharp pavement changes better than the 1, but it should for that much more money. BMW also stated that the EDC suspension on the M3 rides softer than the non-adjustable suspension on the 3.

    My fiance, who fell in love with the E46 M3 after driving one on an autocross course, said “I hate myself for saying this, but I think I prefer the 135i to the new M3.” She even said it’s a nice looking car. The M3 is a GREAT grand tourer, but the 135 feels like more of a sports car. I do like the E92’s looks better, but find the 1 series appealing and HATE the euro 1 hatchback’s styling. If BMW had brought the hatch over, I would only consider getting a 3.

    Having driven the 335, I can say the M3 is definitely a lot better. The 335i has the big car/soft feeling. If you prefer light steering and a cushy suspension to the 135’s, that’s fine. Just say, you are a cushy car kinda guy. For me, the stiffer suspension in the 135 is partly why I’m interested in it over the 3.

    The 135i feels lighter than my E46 3, which in reality is 200lbs lighter. That is some BMW engineering magic for you. It really feels like a slightly grippier, much faster E36 M3. It even has a better/more comfortable interior than that car and costs LESS than that car cost me 9 years ago (not even including inflation).

    I’m a person that likes to occasionally compete in events in my car (autocross). The 135 being somewhat set up for that out of the box makes that more appealing to me than the 3 series.

  • avatar

    So.. the 135 would be a great car if the 335 didn’t exist. What an odd view. Also, this is the only place I’ve seen complaints of heavy steering, dodgy handling, and challenges to being a daily driver. The other 30+ reviews out there say it’s a great touring car. My test drive left me with the impression that it tracks very well, the steering is one of the best I’ve felt, and it wasn’t ‘nervous’ at all. If you need a bigger back seat or if you prefer the styling, by all means, spend the extra $5K-$6K and get a 335. If you want slightly faster, better brakes, better handling and agility and can live with a small back seat, then you might want to check the 135. As for styling, don’t trust the pictures and don’t trust the opinions (published or otherwise) of others no matter how hard they work at foisting it upon you. People have been all over the map on this one. Go look at one. You may (or may not) agree with those of us that thing it looks aggressive, purposeful, and generally great.

  • avatar

    “it darts around like a fat, over-caffeinated cheerleader.”

    Gave me visions of the Catholic Schoolgirl skits on Saturday Night Live.

    I agree with your assessment of the two cars and appreciate the comparison. After sitting in both, my wife authorized me to add the 3 series to our shopping list and decided the 135 wasn’t what we needed.

  • avatar

    NCO’s are always right.
    I final saw a 135 in the neighbor while jogging and I must say I do not like it from any angle. It reminds me of the cheap looking 318ti.

  • avatar

    I must say I was a bit miffed when first hearing, way back when, that the upcoming 1-series would include the 3.0 Twin Turbo from the E90.

    I saw it as cannibalizing 335i Coupe sales. Then it arrived, and the price was *far* too close to 335i prices, and the weight barely any lighter, negating any advantage to getting one.

    The 1-series would have fit perfectly in the lineup with the Naturally-Aspirated 3.0 double-vanos (from the ’06 330i, currently still in the Z4, X3 and X5 “3.0si”), developping 255hp / 220 lbs-ft TQ. And a lower end model with the 200hp 2.5L (as available in the 323i here in Canada and elsewhere). Finally, bring both versions in at about 250lbs less.

    BMW would have had true driver’s cars for those who enjoy tossability and BMW’s legendary balance, control and feedback.

    255hp in a 3,100lbs vehicle would have been faster than my old 330Ci.

    And the price, concurrently, would have been about $3,000-$4,000 less (then the actual 1-series) accross the board.

    on another subject, does anyone know what the internal designation for the 1-series body is? I.e. the equivalent of E90/E92 for the 3-series sedan/coupe

  • avatar
    Claude Dickson

    This review fails to that the cheapest 335i is the sedan, not the coupe. The 4-door sedan not only offers greater utility, but is thousands of dollars cheaper than the coupe. Once you take into account the cheaper price of the 335i sedan AND the fact that discounts below MSRP are available for the sedan, choosing the 135i really makes no sense!!!

  • avatar

    To me, this car, with that motor, at that price point, is very funny. BMW (and Audi, and MB) in the US is completely different than BMW in Europe. It seems that they’re doing everything they can to hide the fact that their EU lineup is more complete on the low-end, and preserve their status as a “status” brand over on this side of the pond.

    It fascinates me to no end that if BMW sold a 4 cylinder 1 series 5 door at a base price below $25k, it would some how change the desirability of the upper models. Or, because a car is popular, no matter how good it is, it suddenly becomes less desirable. That sounds more like fashionista than pistonhead.

  • avatar

    One thing I think is interesting that people keep bringing up, is how close in weight the 135 is to the 335. It’s actually a bigger difference than the 335/535:

    135i m/t : 3373 lbs
    335i m/t: 3571 lbs
    335i sedan m/t: 3594 lbs
    535i m/t: 3660 lbs

    That’s a 200lb difference between the 135 and the 335, vs a 90lb difference between the 335 and the 535.

    I’m not saying the 135 is light, but it is light compared to other BMWs with the same engine.

    Now, when do we get a 300-ish HP turbo-four tii model weighing under 3k?

  • avatar

    The 135 has a lot of world market, but here in the big PX, the size difference is not taxed, there’s no weight or power penalties, unlike Bermuda (size), Germany (horsepower), or France (engine + trans type).

    I saw the 135 at the NY Auto Show. I drive an E46 330i sport. I came away with, if my beloved 330 was stolen or crashed, a desire (huge) for the four door M3, or the 335i (chip and cooler, here I come, toss the run flats), but the 135 struck me as something rich dads will buy for their girls.

    Here in the big wide US of A, there is not sufficent differences, and at the same price, basically, I think BMW is set up to fail.

    Had the 135 been sent to us light, without i drive or the typical option overload of BMW (read: way to raise the price beyond the reasonable starting price), it would be a winner.

    Most of us thought “new 2002”. What we got was 5/8 335i, which was already done well by the real 335i.

    Strip this, keep the big motor, ditch the leather and the overpriced options. The guy who wants that stuff will buy a 335i…anyway

  • avatar

    Well, someone had to provide at least 1 bad review of this car compared to the other 99 great reviews! 135i is the finest car from BMW in years.

  • avatar
    Claude Dickson

    This review on touches on an issue which should receive MUCH more attention. How many reviews have we all read which evaluate a car like it would spend all its time on the track. We’ve all read too often of car criticized for its handling at 9/10ths limits, max lateral force, top speed, etc, when most of us really want to know how the car will do in our daily commute

  • avatar

    I haven’t see one in person yet, but I actually like the look of the car. It is definitely evocative of the 2002, albeit with ample Bangle-ization.

    I will echo the comments of many, though, in that it completely fails in meeting the spirit of the 2002. I think there was room between current 1er pricing and the Cooper S for a 1-series with about 200HP and a sub 3000lb curb weight.

  • avatar

    Here's what I would suggest, go to and read opinions of actual 135i owners, many of which drove any number of truly excellent BMW's and other fine vehicles prior to taking delivery of their 135's. I have yet to read someone disappointed with 'twitchy' and 'bucks and snaps like a cheap Kia'. I drove an automatic 135i as well as an automatic 335i. They're both very good. I really don't think that I could say anything other than the 1 feels more sporty, the 3 feels more elegant. No problem, but please, do us a favor and stop the abuse. It's been pointed out on this thread numerous times as well for this article and the prior one. It's hard to take your 'criticism' seriously when so many owners, testers and otherwise auto enthusiasts do not have the same points to criticize. And no, all testing is not done at the limit, or at a track. I cannot wait until you guys give this little car some time. Then we'll see if your doom and gloom scenarios came true. Go to 1addicts. Learn the truth. Down with haters. Long live the 1!!!!!

  • avatar

    It seems like everyone is just out to punk the 1, I’m glad to see something smaller and so different in styling. I for one don’t want to drive another of the 23098540923409832 3 series BMW’s on the road, why look like everyone else when you can have something a little quirky and different.

    I also find it hard to believe that something on the track could be so horrible on the road! I drove both the 128 and 135 and found it to be a stable, toss-able fun little ride. Yes it’s about 6K too much but we have some folks in the government and stupid homebuyers to thank for our tanked dollar.

  • avatar

    @ Christian

    “I also find it hard to believe that something on the track could be so horrible on the road!”

    Lotus Elise sound familiar? Perfect track car, can’t stand it for more than 15 minutes on real roads.

  • avatar

    To me, this car, with that motor, at that price point, is very funny. BMW (and Audi, and MB) in the US is completely different than BMW in Europe. It seems that they’re doing everything they can to hide the fact that their EU lineup is more complete on the low-end, and preserve their status as a “status” brand over on this side of the pond.

    It fascinates me to no end that if BMW sold a 4 cylinder 1 series 5 door at a base price below $25k, it would some how change the desirability of the upper models. Or, because a car is popular, no matter how good it is, it suddenly becomes less desirable. That sounds more like fashionista than pistonhead.

    Yes, but I’m European, and there are a view things you overlook. In Europe cars and car ownership are much more expensive than in the US because we’re all (some more than others) socialist countries, which means governments think public transportation rules. At the same time, Europeans and Americans get about the same paycheck (on average, in general)

    Anyway, this means that, even in car friendly countries like Italy and Germany, buying a car is a way bigger chunck of the (family) budget than in the US. Although BMW and Mercedes offer entry level models, those are still more expensive than other brands models, and the difference is 1) exaggerated by percentage taxes and 2) subjectively more important because the price is higher anyway (realtively speaking, in terms of income).

    For instance, in the Netherlands, where I live, the cheapest 3 series (316i, with a nice petrol 1599cc I4 122 HP engine, not sold in most other countries) is about 33k Euros. A decent model with a 2.0 diesel like a 320d with some of the obligatory options can easily go for 50k, and I’m not talking about a fully loaded car. The 335 Coupe has a base price of 58,370 EUR. This while average income BEFORE taxes is about 35k Euros.

    This means that those entry level Bimmers are still perceived by the public as premium cars. Now in the US when they would offer these models, they would be so cheap that ‘everybody’ could buy one, and since perception is maybe even more important in the US than it is over here (especially in those parts where german premium brands are sold in the first place) they can’t afford to do that, because it is the high-end models especially that yield the profits.

    On top of that, private leasing (or creating some other debt structure) is not (yet) as popular for buying cars in Europe as it is in the US, and income differences (after taxing) are smaller, which all probably help to increase the effects of what I mentioned above.

  • avatar

    Hey that’s why AMERICA is still the NO.1 contributor of green house gases. China is way way behind the US and they already planning to eradicate pollution in their cities (like building the three gorgeous dam).

    I counted 25 Bimmers for the last 2 days.

    Can we buy something else?

    A Prius hot rod sounds better

    I wake up this morning saw $3.45 for a gallon on a regular next will be the prices of Food and Services going up.

    It is not even summer yet

    Ouch to America!!!

  • avatar

    Darn I wish the litre equivalent of a gallon of regular fuel would be the Euro equivalent of $3.45 over here…

  • avatar

    For the person that asked, the internal code for the 1 series coupe is E82.

  • avatar

    For what it’s worth. the 335 and the 135 use different automatic transmissions. The 335 has a ZF unit, and the 135 a GM trans.

    They are both 6 speeds, with torque convertor, but ar otherwise completely different.


  • avatar

    According to other car mag articles, and what one 1 forum person received from ZF (quoted below), it is the ZF unit, not GM.

    I emailed ZF and this was their response:

    Dear Mr.*****

    thank you very much for your Email and your interest in ZF´s advanced driveline technology. The BMW 135i E82 (Cabriolet) and E88 (Coupé) are actually equipped with ZF´s 6-Speed automatic transmission 2nd generation. For the case of any further questions please don´t hesitate to contact me.

    Mit freundlichem Gruß / Kind regards
    Holger Kirsch
    Produktkommunikation Presse Technik (VVK-KP)/
    Product Communication Trade Press
    Konzernkommunikation/Corporate Communications

  • avatar

    I am not sure one can claim that the 3-series has better resale value than the 135. The 3-series is certainly good but I wouldn’t think the 1-series will be bad, at best we can claim unknown in this category.

    I will echo a previous post about the 128. I think this model is where it is at. With sub 30k starting price, keeping the manual transmission and skiping the options, you have yourself a great drivers car. I am not sure when 300hp became the mark for a car to be fun. I’m not going to downplay the twin turbo as I have driven it and I found it to be a blast. But my 99 M coupe has “only” 240hp and I rarely drive a car that is more fun.

  • avatar

    While no one can know for certain that the 3 will hold it’s value better, I would give odds to the 3.

    The 135 may have some ability to be resold as a wild ride, but the 128 will likely go south quickly.

    BTW, BMW Finance believes the 3 will hold it’s value better. Check the lease info.

  • avatar

    I just leased a 335 coupe a couple months ago, 51k msrp. Ive also ridden in (but not driven) the 135. I think BMW’s basic problem with the 135 is simple: The 135 is simply not worth the amount they are asking in relation to the 335. There is not a snowball’s chance in hell I would trade my 335 for a 135 to save 85 dollars a month. If you are making a lease payment of 700+ per month odds are 85 bucks isnt gonna sway you. (and if it does, you cannot afford the car you are driving) The 335 turns heads for all the right reasons on the road, and I havnt found a person yet that says the same about the 1. If this was a car leasing out in the mid 500’s fully loaded, it would be a smash hit, but the comparo kills it. Niche market for a small group of enthusiasts, nothing more.

  • avatar

    Here are the facts about the 135i vs the 335i: It is faster, it is lighter.

    Beyond that, there seems to be disagreement about whether it handles better, stops any better with the 6 pot brakes, looks any better (or worse), etc.

    Still, for my money, the chance to save ~$5-10k for a faster, lighter BMW seems like a no-brainer to me.

    Ask yourself this: if BMW announced a LTW/CSL/SWB 335i for $5k less, would you buy one?

  • avatar

    Faulty conclusions… 1.) The 135i is faster then the 335i 0-60 2.) The 135i is faster through the slalom then the 335i. 3.) The 135i has better brakes and stops quicker then the 335i. 4.) The interior’s are almost identical other then the small back seat in the 1. Oh and 4k difference? What are you smoking? It’s a $5900 difference Coupe vs Coupe.  p.s. I have driven them both aggressively.

  • avatar

    Am I missing something? A 135i loses a comparison to a 335i? Well no freaking shise! It costs 5900! dollars more you morons! That’s about 1400 gallons of fuel at $4 a gallon, which equates to nearly 30,000 miles worth of driving. That’s NOT a short hop.

    As for your continued comments about the steering of the 135i being too heavy etc.. Grow a set. It’s not nearly as bad as you seem to think, and everything becomes normal after a couple weeks of driving. I found myself comfortable using one hand to steer and one to shift after only a 15 mile drive.

    It’s also nothing even remotely resembling “darty”, in fact it’s more stable than a 328i(it’s true competition) when driven back to back on the same roads, even despite the higher speeds it registers and it’s worlds ahead of it’s other competition. It tracks straight and true, even over horrible PA roads, and required almost no thought to control where the 328i was more prone to tramlining.

  • avatar

    Having had a 335i Coupe for the last year and a half, I just “downgraded” to the 135i Convertible. I love it. I find it far more responsive than the 335 was, both in power and handling.

    And the reason that I didn’t go to the 335 Convertible is that its ridiculously expensive — the differential between the 135 and 335 convertibles is almost $10K when configured with the same options. Plus the hard top weight on the 335 makes the car even more sluggish when compared to the soft top 135.

    I will agree the styling takes some getting used to — its not a smooth and sleek as the 335, but if you just look at it on its own rather than in comparison to the 3 its actually quite attractive.

    As for performance, the 135 reminds me of my old M Roadster — small, nimble, and a crazy amount of power for its size.

  • avatar

    4 Things:

    1. “After testing BMW 135i and 335i coupes back-to-back, I can reveal that there are only two good reasons to purchase the smaller, cheaper car. Either you need a track day machine or you’re an idiot.”

    How about you live in a 2 person house and use the back seat of your car maybe once a month, and the fact that it’s lighter, faster, sportier, and cheaper are only side-perks>

    2. “Step on the powerful, easily modulated brakes, toss the cars into a turn and you soon realize only one makes the driver look like they know what they’re doing.”

    Sorry, are the 1-series 13″ Brembo brakes (biggest in BMW’s lineup) too much for you to know how to handle?

    3. “The 135i outruns the 335i, but only just.”

    A .4 second difference is 2 car lengths at 60 mph..

    4. “the 135i’s auto feels cheaper and slower-witted than the sublime ZF-equipped 335i.”

    They use the same auto transmission. The 128 gets the cruddier tranny.


  • avatar

    The 135i makes a lot more sense when lightly optioned. Especially as a convertible. I was looking to purchase, not lease, a Mustang, 128i, 135i, or 328i convertible.

    The Mustang is cheap but unsophisticated. The 128i is about 38, the 135i is about 42, and the 328i is about 48. Big differences between all three price wise. As of now I’ll take the 135i with a soft top, saves a lot of trunk space and weight compared to the 328i. Additionally, the back seat in the 1 series and 3 series convertibles were not much different size wise. All the cars on the lot were loaded to the gills and quite expensive, you’ve got to order it to do it right.

    If I was not looking specifically for a convertible it might be a different story, but try to find a sporting 4 seat convertible with a manual and you’ll find your options limited and very expensive.

  • avatar

    Just “downgraded” from a M3 e46 SMGII (fourth M3 I own) to a 135i M Pack (manual, no IDrive, only xenons, Professional Radio and Black leather).

    I was extremely dissapointed by the SMG transmission: while it being very fast and effective, I found it extremely boring, driving fun wise. Was really looking forward to moving back to a manual shift again.

    Besides owning 4 BMW M3’s, I´ve had the chanve of driving many 400bhp + cars, very sporty cars (besides having racing experience)… The 135i brings the thrills, the driving experience and the enthusiasm that only cars with more than 400 bhp have brought me before. I think it’s a very balanced car, it’s a real “wolf in lamb skin”…

    I really can´t understand how you did your review and where you got your conclusions from!!!!! Bad quality journalism…


  • avatar

    OK. Over the years I have owned 2 BMW 2002s, an E46 M3, a 328, a 335 and as of this week a 135i convertible (sport package). I’ve also attended various BMW driving schools.

    Even with that history my opinions are just that, opinions.

    However, for this driver at this age (57), with my kids gone, with 2 other vehicles in the garage, the 135i is:

    A) a blast to drive
    B) not as buttoned down as the 335 (that is NOT praise for the 335)
    C) I actually like the looks (M team worked on the aero)
    D) I haven’t enjoyed a BMW this much since my 2002 days, and that INCLUDES the M
    E) I opt’d for as little as possible other than the sport package so it’s a basic driver’s car

    All that is biased, uninformed by other than my experience, and do I care what others think about its design, cost or other comparisons?




  • avatar

    i test drove the bmw 335i and the 135i. in my opinion, the 135i is funner car to drive. it is wickedly fast, and the ride is exilerating! i liked it so much and bought it over the 335i and saved 5K. really i just wanted a basic car that is light, nimble, responsive, fast and torquey. so the 135i was my answer. the 335 is fast too but feels too heavy the ride is just too supple.

    both cars are solid. i do not need a big back seat or the little more trunk space like the 335i has. coming over from the nissan 350z, it is surely a much faster car and more practical. i am not slamming the nissan 350z; it is a good car, but it is bit too heavy and enjoyed it for 6 years.

    for styling of the 135i, looks is matter of opinion and perception. i’d rather save 5K over looks.

  • avatar

    BMW 135i Sport Coupé Awarded Best Performance Car of the Year

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