The BMW M140i, the hyper-hatch king or a runner-up prince?
The first time I ever drove an M140i it was wet and cold, for the majority of the drive it was in 'Eco-Pro' because I was so concerned I'd bin it. Worried by the negative reviews I'd read, I refused to actually try and have fun. Fast forward a year and I drive a remapped M135i which was putting out 400bhp+, suddenly I didn't know why I was so initially afraid. Fun, controllable, savage at times and a sound on full-throttle which was incomparable to the competition.
So what is the M140i? Effectively it's a smaller sized hatch which packs a gigantic punch, rear wheel drive fun powered by a turbo 3.0 straight six - 335bhp and 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds.. nippy.
Estoril Blue is a lovely and bright colour, yet it doesn't make you want to rip your eyes out either..
The outside design is one of the beautiful bits of the M140i, understated and for the most part a total 'blending in' kind of car. The 1-series has sold significant numbers in the UK in a variety of engine types, whilst the best sellers are realistically the 120d/120i etc, considering the nature of the car you might be surprised to know the M140i is also sold in high numbers too.
Sweeping lines, alloys with a strong design but plenty of rubber, a snouty front end which is aerodynamic and.. that's it. The M140i realistically looks just like a 120d unless you know what to look out for. While there's bundles of modifications you can do aesthetically and performance wise after purchase, if you like to be understated you can be. Want to stand out? Motech Performance have got you covered - they can turn your M140i into a rocket ship and make it look even better too.
Performance wise is where the M140i starts to show what it's made of. 335bhp, 500Nm torque, 0-62 in 4.6 seconds and a limited top speed of 155mph. The steering is comfortable and feels great but doesn't offer as much feedback as a Type R, however for every day driving it's just what you want. The pedal feel is really lovely, soft but controllable the brakes stop wherever you want them to. The suspension is also extremely comfortable, especially if you go for the adaptive setup (£515 option). Whilst not as spongy as a standard 120d, considering the performance aspect of the M140i it's definitely more than acceptable.
Food for thought - the 335bhp can easily soar above 400bhp with modifications, however in standard form the M140i can beat an M2. Modify the M140i and you've got a proper rocket.
The M140i standard wheels are strong and offer you plenty of protective rubber, great for pothole filled roads..
Inside the M140i is a typical BMW, that's a good thing. Designed well with great materials, quiet and comfortable whilst being hard wearing at the same time. In 5-door form the M140i makes a great family car, however I found the best driving feel was in the 3-door. The only downside on both 3 and 5 door variants is the blindspot when reversing thanks to the thick rear pillar. Rear legroom is more than decent considering the boot isn't small either - 360 litres with the seats up and around 1200 litres with the seats down. Whilst not class leading, it's more than big enough to fit a weekly shop in - do a tip run - do a road trip.. almost anything. I couldn't fit a bass in, however I also couldn't in an A45 or an RS3.. so I can live with that outcome.
The Harman / Kardon sound system is actually at its best in a smaller car. The frequency bands are clear and precise, the sub is punchy without being overwhelming, however I would've liked more frequency control.
Taking the dog for a walk? Plenty of clearance and comfortable suspension means that gravel path is accessible..
iDrive really is one of my favourite infotainment systems and that opinion hasn't changed in the M140i, easy to navigate and offering bundles of functional uses (including wireless Apple CarPlay), go for Professional Navigation too, it's easy to use and has great traffic mapping.
Frugality is my final point, not something I expected to cover on a 3 litre straight six. BMW claim around 38/39mpg is achievable, which on a long run is totally true. I experienced the M140i turn around 44mpg at best on a run, however in the city expect from 18-25mpg. This is primarily due to the fact that the M140i is heavier thanks to the 3.0 six cylinder block.
So, is the M140i the hyper-hatch king or a runner up? A difficult thing to summarise as what makes it the winner or loser is personal to each person. Bundles of performance? Check. Comfortable interior? Check. Ability to fit in when needed? Check. Fun factor whilst remaining daily functionality? Check. But that's just for me..
Simply put, the M140i is a superb all rounder and does everything extremely well. With bargain PCP details available and affordable second hand values it's not out of reach to anyone within reason. The M135i is only slightly slower and lacks little updated technology - so if you don't mind an older plate, that's an affordable way to go.
Test vehicle cost inc. options : £42,045 (£8,360 of options).