Having picked up our new daily runner, the BMW M140i, which features a 340PS straight six turbocharged engine and rear wheel drive. I wanted to talk about how my partner and I ended up with this car.
Firstly I would like to preface this by saying the car was bought to be used a ‘daily driver’ and not for its dynamism and skill as a ‘sports car’.
When we were considering swapping cars we looked at two distinct types of cars the 4wd 4pot cars, like the VW Golf R, Mercedes A45 AMG etc. and the sports cars, like the Porsche Boxster, Boxster S, Cayman and Cayman S. We also test-drove the new Audi TTS which felt a more dynamic that the other 4wd 4 pots, so lets put this as an in-between car.
The reason I have split the cars into two groups is because all of the 4wd 4pots felt very similar to drive – they were all dynamically numb as each other. Ok that’s not entirely fair on the Mercedes A45 AMG as that was actually relatively involving to drive, the noises it makes aren’t comparable to any other car on our list, but this comes at a cost. A cost so high, that it meant we had to remove it as a contender.
Dynamically the ‘sports cars’ drove very well indeed, the new 718 chassis is a step forward from the 981, the steering was very well weighted and direct whilst supplying ample feedback, this meant we were both confident behind the wheel. The balance, as with previous Boxster’s and Caymans, was brilliant, as a mid-engine car, it handles like no other. Being honest as a package it is more evolutionary than revolutionary- my opinion but then, I’m no professional.
However, price aside, there was one large sticking point for the 718. In fact there was one large sticking point for all of these cars, their engines.
Part of the appeal of the old Boxster’s and Caymans, was their characterful flat 6 engine that was situated right behind your back. For the 718, Porsche decided they would remove any kind of character from the engine and replace it with a… in fact before I go on about the engine, all I will say to anyone in this position is drive the 718 and 981 and make a decision for yourself. But for me if I’m spending over £50k it needed to at least form some emotional connection, but the new flat 4 turbo left me feeling, well, nothing.
Similarly the 4pot 4wd cars, were amazingly fast and great all weather point-to-point cars, but again left me feeling nothing.
So, that left me still searching and after reading online around the release of the new BMW M140i with its new B58 power plant and having owned a N54 powered 335i and driven the N55 powered M135i. I knew I had to test drive it.
On the surface the car looks identical to the facelift 135i, but underneath is what matters. The first thing I noticed was the increase in torque in the mid-range compared to the N55 and the different tone to the exhaust note. Both give you the indication that there are more changes than meets the eye. I also felt the rear end of the car felt more stable than the pre-facelift 135i I had driven, which got very light at reasonable speeds.
What sealed the deal for me was the engine and rear wheel drive, these two combined with the fact that I’d read online the next 1 series will share the Mini platform so that means front wheel drive, meant this car was looking like a very good proposition.
I just want to take a second to discuss the engine. So every other ‘hot hatch’ available uses a 4-cylinder engine, but BMW stuck to their guns (at least for now anyway) and kept a 6 cylinder engine in the new Mx40i. There wasn’t another car we drove that sounded anywhere near the B58. There is something special about the short wheelbase, rear wheel drive, 6-cylinder car that is the M140i.
So, after a relatively short test drive we knew that was our next car.
We searched out the best deal possible (anyone looking check TRL on http://www.babybmw.net) and placed the order. The 3 month wait then began…[to be continued]