Name: Carl Green
Car: BMW M135i
Owned since: April 2016
Previously owned: Classic Mini (which I still own, although I’ve never driven it as it’s been a long-term project). Peugeot 106, that was simply stunning to drive and so rewarding. Peugeot 406 Coupe, which I still refer to as the ‘yacht’ as it felt like such a boat in the corners. A highly modified Toyota Sera (which got mixed reactions when previously featured on PH Carpool a few years ago), plus two Mazda MX-5s (Mk1 California and a Mk3 Sport).
Why I bought it:
Needing something more practical than the Mk3 MX5, I decided it was time to grow up and think about the future as I had two nieces and a nephew to ferry about. My wish list went something like this: five-door, RWD, auto (because I’m lazy when cruising) fun, powerful, good on fuel, classy and, ideally, something a bit rare and unusual – I had missed having that since selling the Sera. It seemed the final decision was between M135i, Audi RS3, Mercedes A45 AMG, Focus RS and a Golf GTD (because I was never going to fulfill all my criteria!).
Basically all hot hatches, however I really fell for the M135i after I drove the others: the Audi was pretty average (powerful, yes, but not fun enough), obviously the Focus didn’t come as an auto (which was quite a priority for me), and I just couldn’t find an A45 at the time, although it looked a bit too boy racer for me anyway. The BMW was the only one of shortlist that was six-cylinder and that really helped convince me. Having driven the M135i at three different dealers I then set my heart on one: I knew I wanted Estoril Blue or Valencia Orange, but then the latter was eliminated when my fiancée bought an orange 116d! Anything else in terms of extras was a bonus for me.
The raw power really sold it to me, and it was practical enough to make something this fast seem a good idea. The ZF auto ‘box is stunning and so easy to live with. It does what I want when I want it, the engine makes a lovely noise even for a turbo, and the fact it’s a five-door hatchback really catches people out – they just don’t expect it to be fast! All these things come together to make it a really impressive car, so I knew I would end up with one. I just had to find it!
What I wish I’d known:
The fact an M140i would be announced not long after buying mine, but in reality there wasn’t much I didn’t know. My fiancée had just bought the 116d so I knew everything would be good when it came to practicality like the size of the boot or rear leg room – I’m not the tallest person in the world! I did plenty of research looking for M135i-specific problems but none that worried me as such. I even watched Joe Achilles YouTube videos… I think it was Joe that sold it to me as an all-round good car for a daily driver.
Things I love:
The fact it is such a wolf in sheep’s clothing; so many people do not expect the car to be like it is, and I love it when I have new passengers and they’re as impressed as I was when I first drove it. I love the fact I can drive this car hard, really work the auto ‘box with the paddles and enjoy myself as much as the MX-5s and the car never fails to raise a smile. It just wants to rev and when the systems are in Sport+ and the manual mode is selected it really makes the drive feel worthwhile.
I love the fact I can take our mates out and it’s not uncomfortable or noisy or even remotely sporty when you don’t want it to be; it sounds predictable, but it honestly feels like two different cars in one. I know the noise is manipulated inside, but I love the sound outside so much that I’ll let my mates have a go so I can hear it!
Things I hate:
Hate really is a strong word. There are things that I would prefer the car to have, but I bought the car knowing it didn’t have every available option from the factory (or any really, in my car’s case, but poverty spec is fine). I do like the heated steering wheel in the 116d, however this was something I soon got over and am not too worried about now. Heated seats and nav might have been nice options but really the car is about the performance. I’m in the process of arranging for cruise control to be coded in and having the buttons put on the steering wheel. I also dislike the fact it gets called an M1 everywhere by anyone who doesn’t know, and I’m bored of correcting them on that or their assumption that’s it’s a 3.5-litre – but the M1 thing gets me more!
I drive this car daily and the fuel consumption is better than I’ve ever achieved in my Sera or either MX-5 – in reality my Mk3 MX-5 only managed 28mpg on my commute. It did have a few minor mods but the BMW can get to over 32mpg and on a motorway cruise I can see 38mpg. I know this isn’t the right forum for fuel comparisons, however running it as a daily I needed to know it wasn’t going to bankrupt me, and it hasn’t, which is nice.
The major service was due at the end of last year and this cost me £475, supplying my own oil as BMW charge roughly £20 a litre. When you consider the 116d also had its service not long after and was £300 or so (again supplying our own oil), relatively speaking that’s not bad I think. Tyres can be expensive compared to what I would have paid on the MX-5, of course, but I’ve been impressed with the Kumhos that I now have on the car, which are cheaper than the standard Michelin Pilot Super Sports. I’ll keep an eye on the wear over the next few months then decide if the Super Sports are worth the extra money. Tax is £230 a year so not too expensive. Insurance for my partner and I (aged 23 and 28 respectively) is £500 for a fully comp policy with 18,000 miles a year – I think that’s a bit of a bargain given our ages!
Where I’ve been:
I use it all the time, going out a weekends as well as for commuting – why wouldn’t I? It needed to be good enough for everything, which I think it is. Now that the summer is coming around it would be good to get to some car meets and events, and a nice drive out to Goodwood Festival of Speed is on the list this year.
I haven’t really thought about it yet! To be honest this car should keep me going for a few more years, but it would be nice to think if I could afford something like an Alfa Giulia Quadrifoglio or a C63 in the not too distant future. I’d also like to consider some upgrades in future such as an M Performance exhaust or a remap, but they are not priorities at present.