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BMW M135i vs. BMW M140i: which is better?

Take a look at the best bits from two BMW hot hatchbacks and see which one ticks your boxes

A comparison of the BMW M135i and the M140i

Hot hatches appeal to a wide range of drivers because they’re incredibly practical as a family runaround, but they’re also fun to drive under the right circumstances.

BMW’s performance 1 Series models are even better than many because they have a large, powerful 3.0-litre engine and are rear-wheel-drive.

Understanding which performance model best fits your needs is easier than it may seem despite their similarities, so continue reading to find out which you should get.

Styling: BMW M135i vs. M140i

A comparison of the styling on the BMW M135i and the M140i

The BMW 1 Series is a family hatchback that stands out against many similar-sized cars thanks to its long bonnet, which gives it a sports car look.

This is even more true of the M135i and M140i models, which are the highest-performance versions you can get.

These performance models have a wider and lower stance, accentuated by their flared wheel archers, and more aggressive bumper designs.

The M140i models based on the second-generation models (called F20) arguably look more aggressive, while the M135i models belonging to the new third-generation model (known as F40) are sleeker and more elegant.

What are the BMW M140i and BMW M135i like to drive?

A comparison of driving the BMW M135i and the M140i

The M140i uses a 3.0-litre, straight-six engine, which makes it very unique in the world of hot hatches, where most others use more economical 2.0-litre engines, so it sounds great.

Prior to the M140i, BMW’s performance model was called the M135i (rather confusingly). It made 320hp up until 2015, when it was upgraded to make 326hp.

They’re such powerful engines that you’ll find exactly the same ones placed inside the much larger 6 Series coupé.

What that means for the 1 Series is that the M140i can get to 62mph in 4.6 seconds with a manual gearbox, or 4.5 seconds with the automatic.

Like other versions of this 1 Series sold between 2011 and 2019, the M140i is rear-wheel-drive, which makes it incredibly fun and engaging to drive.

The latest-generation M135i uses a more efficient 2.0-litre engine, which some enthusiasts argue takes away the charm of the outgoing model. It’s also less powerful (306hp) and slightly slower (4.8 seconds to 62mph, automatic only).

BMW also made a change from rear- to four-wheel drive, so it’s more grippy in slippery conditions.

In terms of feeling, they ride pretty firm because they have lower suspension than the regular 1 Series, but that helps them to offer a precise and responsive driving experience.

Interior and technology of the BMW M140i vs. M135i

A comparison of the interior of the BMW M135i and the M140i

Although these models come with sports seats, they’re comfortable and supportive and can be adjusted to ensure you can find the right driving position.

The dashboard in both cars is largely the same as you’d find in any other high-spec version of the 1 Series, and comprises a large infotainment display and a series of shortcut buttons beneath.

BMW updated the M140i regularly for the duration of it being on sale, but the 2017 update might be the most noteworthy, which saw the interior get a few new features such as an improved iDrive system and a revised instrument cluster.

The latest M135i is more tech-laden, with plenty of digital interfaces like Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It also gets a more customisable digital instrument cluster.

Used BMW M135i vs. used BMW M140i: which is more practical?

A comparison of the seats and cabin in the BMW M135i and the M140i

The M140i has a 360-litre boot, which is smack bang in between the smaller Mercedes-AMG A45’s boot and that of the Audi RS 3, which is larger.

Space in the rear is sufficient for children, but adults may struggle to get comfortable on longer trips because there’s a hump in the middle of the floor which houses the mechanical parts that transfer the power from the engine (at the front) to the drive wheels (at the rear).

This is the same even in regular 1 Series models, so it’s not something that should put you off getting an M140i.

The four-wheel-drive M135i also suffers from the hump in the floor, but the car’s packaged in a way that makes it a little less intrusive.

It has a larger 380-litre boot, which is about as good as it gets in this class of car, and despite being four-wheel-drive, it has the same amount of space as the regular versions of the 1 Series.

Safety and reliability of the BMW M135i vs. M140i

These premium cars are built to last, to the point that BMW still uses the same engine it used in the M140i in the brand-new 5 Series, which was introduced in 2023.

M135i and M140i drivers don’t typically experience any more problems than drivers of the regular 1 Series versions, but maintenance can be a lot more expensive. For example, they use larger tyres that are costlier to replace.

BMWs are covered by a three-year/unlimited-mileage manufacturer warranty, so it’s only the M135i models that will still be covered if you’re looking to buy used.

What are the BMW M140i and M135i dimensions?

The M140i is 4,324mm long, 1,984mm wide, and 1,411mm tall, whether you go for a three-door or a five-door version.

The newer M135i is only available as a five-door hatchback, which measures 4,319mm long, 1,799mm wide, and 1,434mm tall. On the whole, it’s a slightly smaller car than the outgoing M140i which makes it easier to park in tight spaces, but the difference is less obvious in the real world than it is on paper.

BMW M140i vs. BMW M135i: which should you buy?

The differences between the M135i and M140i models in terms of performance are minimal, because they’re both a lot faster than any regular car.

Manufacturers typically make improvements to their cars’ performance as time goes on, but with the downgrade from a 3.0-litre engine to a 2.0-litre unit, the new M135i is slower than the M140i. If you’re after speed and the sound of a straight-six, the M140i is the one to go for.

If you prefer having the latest technology, then the M135 is more than fast enough for most drivers and is more up-to-date.

It’s also worth considering the styling, because the two cars look rather different from one another.

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