The first shipment of BMW’s hottest ever hatchback, the M135i, is all but a sell-out before it even arrives in Australia in October – and before BMW Australia announced a starting price of $68,400 today.
Demand for BMW's hardcore hatch has been strong, but BMW Australia's Head of Public Relations and Corporate Communications, Piers Scott, said there won't be the kind of supply issues that have plagued several new BMW performance models in recent times.
While the first batch of M135i vehicles is almost completely accounted for, Mr Scott said any increase in demand will be satisfied by ample supply because the M135i is not a limited-edition model like the 1 Series M coupe.
“The first allocation of cars 80 cars is almost entirely spoken for, but the [vehicle supply] tap is fully on. We can meet demand for years because we have a monthly allocation coming from Germany,” he said.
The third model – and first petrol-powered vehicle – to arrive in Australia under BMW's new M Performance Automobiles sub-brand (after the tri-turbo diesel X5 M50d and X6 M50d SUV twins) features upgrades to the engine, brakes, suspension and interior.
The Bavarian hyper-hatch is powered by a punchy 235kW/450Nm version of BMW's turbocharged 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder engine, enabling the five-door 1 Series to sprint to 100km/h in 5.1 seconds with a standard six-speed manual transmission.
However, the rear-wheel drive hatch can also be optioned with an eight-speed automatic transmission, which adds $4000 to the price but reduces its 0-100km/h acceleration time by two-tenths, to just 4.9 seconds. This is on par with the sold-out 1 Series M coupe and only two-tenths off the V8-powered M3 coupe’s pace. The M135i tops out at 250km/h due to an electronic speed-limiter.
Several performance upgrades have been made on the five-door German hatch, including a special cooling system and dry sump lubrication for the six-speed manual transmission.
Chassis modifications are numerous. A Variable Sport Steering system is unique in the 1 Series hatch range and adjusts the steering input needed to suit prevailing driving styles, while the BMW M135i gets uprated suspension too - lower and stiffer.
The brakes have also been upgraded to match the car's rapid acceleration, with an M Sport Brake System fitted as standard, while 18-inch alloy wheels are shod with staggered-size tyres - 225/40 R18 up front and wider 245/35 R18 at the rear.
BMW has tweaked the design of the vehicle to communicate the M135i's performance potential, fitting an M Sport package that includes a more aerodynamic bodykit and also sprucing up the interior with Dakota leather-trimmed sports seats, Anthracite roof lining, an M leather-clad steering wheel and door scuff plates emblazoned with the famous 'M'.
Standard features include Bluetooth streaming for phone and audio devices, Xenon headlights, voice control and an upgraded HiFi sound system.
BMW's hard-charging hatch is not an 'M' car like the M3 and M5, but part of the company's new ‘M-lite’ performance brand designed to take on Audi's 'S' models and to fill the price gap between full-house M models and the mainstream vehicle upon which they’re based.
BMW Group Australia Managing Director, Phil Horton, reckons the new M135i will turn the hot-hatch segment “on its head” after drawing “huge interest both here and overseas”.
“Combining M character and performance with everyday useability gives our BMW M Performance vehicles their own unique place in the market,” he said.
Read the latest news and reviews on your mobile, iPhone or PDA at carsales' mobile site.