The 2018 BMW M140i is a handsome hot hatch for those looking for something just a bit different.
It is pricey, but with that outstanding price comes outstanding performance, especially from the manual-transmission version.
The M upgrades are not to be confused with M models such as the urgent M3, and fiery M5.
The black-on-black exterior exudes power and presence. The front end is dominated by the kidney grille which sits between quad angel-eye headlights.
The pert rump continues the strong belt-line which starts just behind the front wheel arch.
Massive LED tail-lights take up much of the real estate from behind.
18” wheels, also in black, finish off a slightly menacing look. It makes the stance even more impressive especially for such a diminutive five-door hatch.
There is a muscular look that is subtle at the same time.
The cabin feels premium without a doubt. However it is not in the same league as the posher siblings.
At first glance, the controls appear deceptively simple because much of the function is subsumed by a combination of a high-resolution LCD tablet, and the I-Drive controller between the front seats.
The Harmon/Kardon sound system is almost perfect were it not for the absence of Apple CarPlay. Even on the M140i it is a $623 option.
The centre stack features simple to use climate controls, and nifty one-touch programmable buttons. These buttons can be used to store functions including radio stations and sat-nav input. It is genius.
The I-drive controller rounds out a deliciously effective layout.
The centre air vents continue BMW’s centre temperature control scroll. I’ve never been able to understand why.
Power seats and mirrors have a handy memory mode with 2 positions. Like most memory seat models, it also has auto dipping mirrors for reversing. This feature is largely obsolete in models with 360° cameras.
The Dakota leather and M steering wheel are set off with touches of Aluminium hexagon trim dotted about the cabin.
I like the interior for its Teutonic simplicity which marries form and function without sacrifice either.
- Park distance control
- Adaptive M suspension
- Harmon/Kardon audio
- Manual transmission (NCO)
- Adaptive LED headlights with auto high-beam
- Variable sport steering (electric)
- Aluminium Hexagon trim
- 18″ M black allow wheels
- M adaptive drive mode
- M Aerodynamics package
There is no lane control and blind spot monitoring are missing. None the less the driver is not left wanting.
Voice control is available but can be patchy.
You can still use Siri to make phone calls and handle texts handsfree even without CarPlay/Android Auto.
Drive and Engine
A lusty straight six is mated to a rev-matching six-speed manual. With 250kW and a huge 500Nm, the M140i still manages a thrifty 7.1L/100km.
This, of course, heads rapidly north if you try the 4.6 0-100 dash too often.
Steering at city speeds is light making parking easy. Things get more interesting as the corners come faster.
The tyres have a road hum, but most of the time it is comforting rather than annoying.
Twin scrolls turbos make lag a thing of the past and the BMW always feels ready to sprint. It is the sort of car that rewards brisk bends with a willing thrust out the other side.
Handling has always been a BMW strength, and the M140i is a peach.
It gets boring saying that a car drives like it is on rails, but it is 100% true here. Each turn is better than the last. The only thing better than a frolic in a mountain pass is a sprint to 110 on the highway.
The compact interior means some of the switches are just out of reach. Window switches are at wrist level when your arm is resting comfortably on the armrest.
The gear lever is similar. I found myself reaching back slightly to change gears. It wasn’t unpleasant, merely slightly annoying at first.
The 2018 BMW 1 series range scores a maximum five-star ANCAP rating.
- Superb handling
- Spritely performance
- Rev matched manual
Not So Good Bits
- Some controls not easily reached
- Apple CarPlay not standard
- Tight rear seats and cargo hold
With brilliant handling, and a 0-100 of 4.6 seconds, the 2018 BMW M140i is a posh hot hatch anyone can enjoy. It has a manual option at no cost, with a satisfying growl to the engine.
It is just the sort of car for someone who doesn’t want to be flashy, but still wants some pep in their step.
Of course, there are cheaper, faster hot hatches, and some will even be better equipped, but sometimes it is about the prestige of the badge.
There is no point pretending a BMW driver would ever be happy in something else.
Facts and Figures: 2018 BMW M140i
- Engine: 3.0 litre straight six-cylinder producing 250kW/500Nm
- Transmission: Eight-speed auto or six-speed manual (NCO)
- Safety: Five stars
- Origin: Germany
- Warranty: Three years
- Price: from $59,990