24 February 2012
Rear drive and rapid: BMW M135i Concept hatch to go on show
So far BMW isn’t saying exactly which twin-turbo, straight six unit the M135i Concept will receive. It will be either the 306bhp edition from the current M135i Coupe, or the monster 340bhp unit from the 1-Series M Coupe. If you were going to bet, higher is probably the better wager.
No doubt the concept will shortly spawn a production car to top the 1-Series range, which is currently mid-way through its rejuvenation process. Five-door hatches are the only versions of the latest 1-Series currently in showrooms – three-door, coupe and convertible models all belong to the previous generation and will be pensioned off over the next 12 months.
There will be room in the line-up for a powerful new 1-Series because the current coupe and convertible models will exit the 1-Series when they are replaced. The new two-door cars will be labelled as 2-Series models when they arrive next year, to create clearer differentiation in the range (and no doubt a bigger price differential too).
In terms of performance, the yardstick will be the current M Coupe, which gallops to 60mph in 4.9 seconds. The M135i will no doubt also be saddled with similar emissions: the M Coupe can only manage 224g/km and 29.4mpg on the combined cycle test. That means £260 for your next tax disc and £580 showroom tax, both of which will feel modest next to the likely asking price. As a guide, the M Coupe retails for £40,020, although the new super-hatch is likely to sit somewhere between that price and the £31,785 of the current 135i M Sport coupe.
Whatever the price, owners will be able to distract themselves by admiring the uncorrupted steering as the scent of burned fivers pours out of the tailpipe. The 1-Series is still unique in offering a rear-wheel-drive option in the medium hatchback sector.