Life in the Fast Lane
2010 BMW 135i

BMW's entry level sports coupe.

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2010 BMW 135i; Great as is, amazing potential

  • Feb 26, 2010
If you are shopping for a new car, and want something fast, comfortable, well-equipped, handles well and is priced around $40,000, go test-drive a BMW 135i.

Starting at $36,000, the 135i comes with BMW's new and amazing 3.0 liter, twin-turbo inline 6 cylinder. It produces 300hp, and 300ft lbs of tq at an incredibly low 1,450 RPMS. That means the powerband is wide and smooth, making it feel like any powerful naturally aspirated engine, and thus very easy to drive. It has the same DNA as BMW's 3 series, which has been on the Car and Driver Top 10 list for 10 years straight. Better yet, you get that DNA is a package that's much lighter than a 3 series, 3250 lbs to be exact. All of this adds up to a small coupe that costs almost 10 grand less than a base 335i, is almost as fast a $60,000 M3, and has room for 4 inside. Not too shabby.

But what makes this car good, so good it landed at #3 on sub5zero's Top 10 Sports Cars of 2010 Under $50,000 is it's potential. In stock form it's a very fast car, keeping up with BMW's flag-ship sports car (the M3) is a very big deal. But that turboocharged engine comes from the factory with a very conservative tune. It doesn't take much to take this car from sports car to supercar. And that is not an exaggeration. For a few thousand dollars, with simple bolt-ons and engine mapping, 500hp is easily achieved. M3s are merely a warm-up to battling 997 Turbos and Ferrari F430s. And you can do it with a proper trunk and still have room to scare 3 of your friends. Not everyone is open to modifying their cars, but for those that are, the potential of a car has a big influence on what you buy. People are just starting to find out what this motor is capable of. And with a curb weight of only 3,250lbs, it holds just as much promise as a track car.

I'm honestly surprised this car rolled out of the factory as good as it did. I would have thought someone at BMW would have said, "Wait! Wait! Stop that car! We made it too good!" But they didn't. The 1 series is supposed to be an entry-level car, aimed at younger buyers who can't quite afford the 3 series, but want a BMW. Like a free cigarette, it's meant to get you hooked on BMW early. Well mission accomplished. The only problem is that if you buy a 135i, you might like it so much, you never see a reason to buy a more expensive BMW down the line. Fine with me, that's just more money for mods.
2010 BMW 135i; Great as is, amazing potential 2010 BMW 135i; Great as is, amazing potential 2010 BMW 135i; Great as is, amazing potential

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March 06, 2010
I recently drove a 500hp 135i. Fit and finish were still top-notch, it was incredibly easy to drive, and the only sign of the power was how fast the speedo ran toward 120mph. It never had a hiccup, and felt extremely mild-mannered compared to other 500hp cars.
March 01, 2010
How does this car compare to the 3 series in terms of dimensions? Is the backseat even usable? I never really understood BMW's decision to release the 1 series. Who is this car competing with?
March 01, 2010
The 135i has 31.3 vs 34.6 inches in the 335i coupe. So it's 3 inches, which is damn close. And it all depends on who is sitting in the front. The backseat would be fine for short trips, taking friends, etc. But it wouldn't be all that comfortable for a road trip. The price range actually competes against the 370z and Mustang GT500 price bracket of about $45k. And there's not a ton of competition in there, so if you have that money but don't like the Z and want something a little quieter (and better overall) than the GT500 you can get a 135i. What they off is to let you get in a BMW for less than ever (practically). This establishes brand loyalty earlier on.
February 28, 2010
High end cars are really a steal in America & with so much distances to drive around in the States, it's really a bargain in terms of absolute pricing as well as utility. I don't know much about cars, but I certainly won't mind a BMW or a Lexus ;-)
March 01, 2010
Lexus makes incredibly comfortable, reliable, quiet cars. The only thing they tend to lack is excitement in design and driving. BMWs feel as good on the road as almost anything though.
March 01, 2010
Yep. My dad has had a Lexus since 1995!
March 09, 2010
It will probably run for a while longer. If you want a great car for covering distance in comfort and quiet, a Lexus is a great choice. It's like a sound-deprivation chamber, but unfortunately just as exciting. The Lexus LF-A is, of course, the exception.
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I'm an automotive journalist, actor and comedian. Currently I'm a writer for, specializing in performance cars, and, an entertaining and informative automotive … more
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About this product


Starting at $36,050 MSRP
3.0-liter, 6-cylinder engine with TwinPower Turbo technology
300 horsepower
Rear-wheel drive
25 mpg hwy
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