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      07-31-2009, 04:39 AM   #1
rcracer_tx
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After owning the car for over a year: A look at the 135i review

OK guys, I have not been too active on the boards for the last two months, but would like to chime in on my impressions of my 135i after deciding to keep it for awhile...

The build quality: My main concern with going from Lexus and Porsche. I must say that I am actually disappointed with the overall feeling of "solidness" of the car. Lexus is definitely a much better built car, and Porsche is still much better as well. The car seems to lack the feeling of confidence in reliability and driving feel of quality.

The Engine: This is the best part of the car by far, and is very fun. I currently stock ( I am going to buy another JB3 or CP-E Standback), but the engine is very exciting, and the tone is great. This does not come without flaws, as the car does sound bad at idle when cold, and I have low RPM misfires that I am going to take it to the dealer for at 13k miles. With boltons, the car is an animal ( I was making 384 RWTQ on a mustang dyno with just RR intake, JB3, and Remus quad axle-back exhaust on a mix of 91 and 93). I am sure I was making over 400 with the RR downpipes, CP-BOV/hardpipe, and 93 on map 5.

The transmission: I had very mixed emotions from the beginning. It is pretty notchy and sloppy, and definitely not the best for a car of this caliber. I added the BMW SSK and CDV mod, and while it is better, it still leaves a lot to be desired for the reputation BMW has for silky smooth drivelines. It couldn't hold a candle to the 550 edition Boxster S I had before this car.

The suspension: I can sum this up pretty quickly: It Blows. It is very nervous at high speeds, and leans like a 1970's muscle car. This will soon be taken care of with KW coilovers, and with my front sway bar I already have. I would recommend this to anyone buying this car as the sport suspension labeled as an ///M suspension is a joke.

Wheels/Tires: the wheels are fine for stock, but the run flats suck as it rides poorly, and is overall way too stiff. Replace them with something else when you get new tires.

Logic 7 Stereo: It is definitely a great stereo, and much better than any Bose system than I've ever listed to. It is not near as good as a Mark Levinson or Nakamichi, but I am happy with it.

I-Drive: The least user-friendly Nav system/ Car control system I have ever used. Stop cheaping out BMW and get a dash integrated touch-screen system like Lexus.

Comfort Access: I would pass on this option if I built the car again as it is overpriced, and can sometimes not allow you to unlock the doors without removing the key from your pocket.

Overall: The car is very nice, but BMW needs to spend more time on suspension, and options development. They also need to put in place a maintenance program that that will keep your car in good shape if you follow, instead of pushing a crappy one and advertising free maintenance. It's disingenuous, and I hope nobody actually waits 15k miles to change oil as it will damage your engine in the long run.

Thanks for reading, I know it was a long post. I am trying to be as realistic as possible, and not hype up a car simply because I own it... That does no good for the community/ prospective buyers
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      07-31-2009, 09:21 AM   #2
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Geeez...you must place a high premium on a car's engine when every other category is a fail vs a Lexus or Porsche. After reading your review I half expected you to give an overall rating of NOT a very nice car especially if you need to modify a lot of things to make it comparable to a Lexus or Porsche. Seems like you would be much happier returning to a Porsche. To me a great car is the sum of its parts, not any one individual item.

I came from a Lexus IS350 to a 128i. A drop in horsepower from 306 to 230. However, I increased my smile factor. Why? On a stock vs stock comparison the steering feel of the Lexus was soft and vague, good for parking but nothing else. The 128i stock suspension was choppy with thumping sounds over rough pavement. The IS350 stock suspension was even choppier with loud banging over rough pavement. Taking fast sweeping corners felt much more assured in the 128 vs the IS350. My daughter felt the 128's base stereo sounded a bit better than the IS350's Mark Levinson. I think they both equally suck. My 128 and the IS350 are both auto transmissions. The 128 shifts more quickly with barely any slippage giving consistent acceleration. The IS350...well...it shifts.

Several mods have since been added to my 128 which has increased my smile factor even more. I can't attest to the 1 series reliability; it's too new but after over 1 year there are no leaks, rattles or squeaks and still feels solid as the day I bought it. Like I said, to me a great car is the sum of its parts.
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      07-31-2009, 09:44 AM   #3
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I have three issues with your review. 1. Porsche has never been and still is not know for anywhere near BMW build quality. Lexus is another matter but there's no way the 1er is much less, if any, less solid than a Porsche. 2. Unless you're comparing the 1 to a Porsche the transmission is absolutely NOT sloppy. Notchy-sometimes, but it is tighter than (insert vagina reference) and definitely tighter than most cars. and 3. Suspension-the car has one of the better stock suspensions I've ridden on. Again it's not fair to compare it to a Porsche, but it is stiff and very controlled-way more so than most cars in its class (at least with the sport package).
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      07-31-2009, 10:56 AM   #4
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ding ding ding round 3 (: all good points.. but I love it just the way she is.. tight or not so tight. . . just as long as I can feel good in the process...
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      07-31-2009, 11:45 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rcracer_tx View Post

The transmission: I had very mixed emotions from the beginning. It is pretty notchy and sloppy, and definitely not the best for a car of this caliber. I added the BMW SSK and CDV mod, and while it is better, it still leaves a lot to be desired for the reputation BMW has for silky smooth drivelines. It couldn't hold a candle to the 550 edition Boxster S I had before this car.
personally I hope they never fix this, while it could be a shorter throw with tighter bushings, the notchy feeling better stick around, it's notchy because there's no cables and crap to buffer the feeling of clicking into gear, bmw shifters use a very direct path into the transmission the smoothness of a honda transmission is not something I want


Coming from an m3 I disagree with you on your suspension complaints, if you dont like the sway get swaybars, there's no way I want a rougher ride than it already is
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      07-31-2009, 11:50 AM   #6
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I couldn't disagree with you more on the suspension. It is one of the better all-around sports suspensions I've even driven. You aren't going to find brutal coilover stiffness on any non-exotic.
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      07-31-2009, 12:07 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wa128 View Post
Geeez...you must place a high premium on a car's engine when every other category is a fail vs a Lexus or Porsche. After reading your review I half expected you to give an overall rating of NOT a very nice car especially if you need to modify a lot of things to make it comparable to a Lexus or Porsche. Seems like you would be much happier returning to a Porsche. To me a great car is the sum of its parts, not any one individual item.
Yep, I have a bit of turbo fever, and nothing else has this type of low end grunt, turbos, and is available with a manual... I had a connection to get a Toyota Aristo, but that fell through (2nd gen gs300 with a 2jzgte from the factory), but it fell through so I decided to keep this car. I nlook for a great platform when I look at a car, and this car definitely has potential to be a monster.

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Originally Posted by wa128 View Post
I came from a Lexus IS350 to a 128i. A drop in horsepower from 306 to 230. However, I increased my smile factor. Why? On a stock vs stock comparison the steering feel of the Lexus was soft and vague, good for parking but nothing else. The 128i stock suspension was choppy with thumping sounds over rough pavement. The IS350 stock suspension was even choppier with loud banging over rough pavement. Taking fast sweeping corners felt much more assured in the 128 vs the IS350. My daughter felt the 128's base stereo sounded a bit better than the IS350's Mark Levinson. I think they both equally suck. My 128 and the IS350 are both auto transmissions. The 128 shifts more quickly with barely any slippage giving consistent acceleration. The IS350...well...it shifts.
Its interesting you bring up that comparison, I have had the chance several times to drive my mothers IS350, and absolutely love the car. With the car set on ETC power, and the foot down I felt it was very quick. Pushing that car around the corner inspired more confidence than the bimmer IMHO. It had a lot less lean, and just seemed more composed. If I had to buy a car again today, I would have bought the IS, but the no manual option is a killer.

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Several mods have since been added to my 128 which has increased my smile factor even more. I can't attest to the 1 series reliability; it's too new but after over 1 year there are no leaks, rattles or squeaks and still feels solid as the day I bought it. Like I said, to me a great car is the sum of its parts.
Yep, my philosophy on cars is definitely that a car needs to be nice from the factory, and have the potential to be much better, which this car has.
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      07-31-2009, 12:17 PM   #8
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Good review. I like it when people are honest about their opinions and the shortcomings of a car they happened to purchase.

I have had my 135 for about 16 months now....and I can honestly say I am getting bored with it. I have been looking at the Cayman S far too much for someone not quite halfway into my lease.

I just think that BMW could have made this car so much better....I am truly intrigued about the super-sport version, whenever it is available....but definitely bored for now....
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      07-31-2009, 12:30 PM   #9
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Interesting read, thanks for taking the time to review. I can't say that I feel the same after 6 months with mine. In the end it all comes down to expectations, and the trend I've seen is that the folks that are most dissatisfied with the 135 are the ones that early adopted. At this point I don't think anyone would say that the 135 is most at home on a track, there are cars other cars available at similar price points that are better suited to that role. Then again those cars also require you to make sacrifices in other areas. The greatness of the 135 to me is its ability to do so many things so well. It isn't the fastest, best handling, or most comfortable and luxurious car made for the money, but the fact that it's in the discussion in each of those categories is what's so impressive about it.

As for the nav, the one in the '09 cars gives up little to any competitor's system, and I think most folks that bought the '08 cars knew or should have known that an overhaul wasn't far away. Incidentally, if you want a Lexus with a touch-screen nav you better act fast, as their current systems are all controller based. My GF has a 2010 RX with their latest nav, and I can't say that I think it's appreciably better or worse than the latest Idrive.

On your CA problems, I think it's worth every dime, and if it isn't working right get the car to the dealer and have it fixed. Mine opens immediately except for the slight delay with the trunk sensor that seems to be typical, and an occasional miss when my keys are in my pocket behind my cell phone.

I completely agree about the free maintenance program that seems to be driven more by dollars and cents than anything, and I agree the build quality of the car isn't perfect. I can't say I'm disappointed though given the alternatives out there in the $35-45K range and what they bring to the table.

Thanks again for the review!
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      07-31-2009, 02:13 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m4tthew View Post
I have three issues with your review. 1. Porsche has never been and still is not know for anywhere near BMW build quality. Lexus is another matter but there's no way the 1er is much less, if any, less solid than a Porsche. 2. Unless you're comparing the 1 to a Porsche the transmission is absolutely NOT sloppy. Notchy-sometimes, but it is tighter than (insert vagina reference) and definitely tighter than most cars. and 3. Suspension-the car has one of the better stock suspensions I've ridden on. Again it's not fair to compare it to a Porsche, but it is stiff and very controlled-way more so than most cars in its class (at least with the sport package).
While Porsche is not known for excellent reliability, BMW is no angel when it comes to this either. It takes about 5 minutes of driving my last car to realize the fit and finish, and overall build quality that goes into the Porsche is much better. It feels much more refined, and more like everythhing works together and is matching. The suspension and engine work well together, whereas on the 135 the suspension sucks and it has a powerful engine.


Quote:
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personally I hope they never fix this, while it could be a shorter throw with tighter bushings, the notchy feeling better stick around, it's notchy because there's no cables and crap to buffer the feeling of clicking into gear, bmw shifters use a very direct path into the transmission the smoothness of a honda transmission is not something I want

Coming from an m3 I disagree with you on your suspension complaints, if you dont like the sway get swaybars, there's no way I want a rougher ride than it already is

the problem is that coming from a Limited ed. Boxster S that has a SSK from the factory, it felt just as tight without the notchiness. On the suspension, it is not about the stiffness, its the poor compression/rebound rates that this car has. The car acts skittish, and soesn't rides as well as the boxters cup suspension that the car had. it was stiffer, yet drove much better.

BTW: I have upgraded sway bars, and am still not happy with the suspension, so it is definitely the shock/spring combo.

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I couldn't disagree with you more on the suspension. It is one of the better all-around sports suspensions I've even driven. You aren't going to find brutal coilover stiffness on any non-exotic.
I'm not looking for a real stiff suspension, just a suspension where the rebound and compression rates match the car.

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Good review. I like it when people are honest about their opinions and the shortcomings of a car they happened to purchase.

I have had my 135 for about 16 months now....and I can honestly say I am getting bored with it. I have been looking at the Cayman S far too much for someone not quite halfway into my lease.

I just think that BMW could have made this car so much better....I am truly intrigued about the super-sport version, whenever it is available....but definitely bored for now....
Thanks, I don't see the point in praising a car on points it should not. It is not productive for people buying the car when they will not be happy with it...

Yeah, I bought the car almost fully loaded (all except PDC and active steering) and don't want to take that much loss at this point in to my purchase... The Boxster was a much better car, and is leagues above this. Never really understood the appeal of the Cayman as it is just a hardtop Boxster that cost more IMHO. Everyone wants something different in a car I guess.
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      07-31-2009, 02:45 PM   #11
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At a year and 4 month:

I agree on suspension as the rebound is softer than desired, but it's good for street use; let me rephrase it is great for street use. The logic 7 stereo is alright at best. I have heard better midrange after market speakers. Reliability is a big minus at least in my perspective from major issues like HPFP, SRS, to small problems like deforming dash at the passenger airbag, 3rd brake light cracking, and shadowline trim coming lose.

The pluses are the engine, which is a absolute blast, and the value of the car, contributing to the bang for the buck. I know some may say the EVO and WRX are even better choices but I couldn't live with the EVO interior. I tried.

I dont think its fair to compare the boxster s to the 135i with one in range of 70s and the other 40s. Porsche should be close to 1x more car than the 135i in that view.
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      07-31-2009, 03:01 PM   #12
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I had a Boxster as well before the 1er and I miss it terribly. I like the 1er no doubt, it just doesn't have that extra "something" that you get with Porsche.
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      07-31-2009, 03:02 PM   #13
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If you are happy with the power output of the engine, but not happy with the suspension, why did you mod your car to have more power instead of upgrading the suspension?
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      07-31-2009, 05:54 PM   #14
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Interesting your take on the IS350 versus the 135. I do like the IS350 which my friend has (and my boss has an IS-F that I've driven) and I find the IS to be softer and less connected to the road than my 135 vert and so does my friend. It's especially true when you push it to the limits in my opinion.
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      07-31-2009, 06:13 PM   #15
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am i the only who hasn't found a fault with the 135?
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      07-31-2009, 07:46 PM   #16
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I'm also sort of coming from a Porsche (had an Audi also) and am in agreement with this original review. Other than the motor, my One is much more comparable to my Audi than my Porsche But for the price, etc, that's what I expected. I'd still rank my One as one of or maybe even the best daily driver ever. I did change to KW V1's and now my ride is nearly as stiff as my Porsche 968 but with more roll. It's now probably not as good of a daily driver now but I like it better. I'll probably upgrade my front sway bar soon.

I really love the N54 and it's potential. The headlights are incredible. My least favorite features are the small gas tank and fuel pump concerns.
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      07-31-2009, 07:55 PM   #17
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tiny fuel tank, god damn
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      07-31-2009, 08:35 PM   #18
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Quote:
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I had a Boxster as well before the 1er and I miss it terribly. I like the 1er no doubt, it just doesn't have that extra "something" that you get with Porsche.
Yep, I miss mine dearly Nothing beats the feel of confidence that that Porsche gave me around the twisties.

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If you are happy with the power output of the engine, but not happy with the suspension, why did you mod your car to have more power instead of upgrading the suspension?
I upgraded the Sway Bars, but planned on upgrading to coilovers soon after. I got some excellent deals on my performance parts with my discounts as well. I will be adding coilovers soon....

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Interesting your take on the IS350 versus the 135. I do like the IS350 which my friend has (and my boss has an IS-F that I've driven) and I find the IS to be softer and less connected to the road than my 135 vert and so does my friend. It's especially true when you push it to the limits in my opinion.
yeah, there is definitely more steering feedback on the Bimmer, but the suspension is much less skittish on the Lexus imho.
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      07-31-2009, 09:29 PM   #19
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Interesting review, with some very valid points in my opinion, opinion I said.

Caution: LONG post.

Of course, we all don't have too agree on everything.
It doesn't take much drive time to realize the overall suspension tuning on the 1 is not it's best feature. You did test drive the 1 before deciding, right?

Overall, it's a decent sport suspension, though not BMW's best attempt.
I feel the 3 series sport suspension is better sorted.
It's more fair to compare within the brand, for their ability to give a better suspension, or compare it to equal cost vehicles to determine what you get for the money. Should the Porsche, that costs more than the 1 series have better build and a better drive? Yeah, it should.

So the converse to your comparison is, the 1 gives you a tremendous overall performance level for the money spent.

I must completely disagree that this car leans like a 70's muscle car. C'mon!
I think you went a bit too far in that comparison. I feel my 135i corners relatively flat compared to a lot of cars out there that claim to be "sport" suspended.

Everything in my 135i feels solid and well put together, just like most BMW's I've driven. I've only owned 2 of them, an E46 325i sport, and my 135i, and 2 Audi's, a 5000S turbo, and a 2006 A4 S-line quattro, as far as German automobiles go.
Even though BMW could have upped the quality of materials and little niceties, what is there is put together quite well. Just take a look at the engine bay and how the various parts are designed and engineered. BMW knows how to build and engineer components. That, to me, IS quality.
However, ergo's need more work too.

The comparison to the IS350, where the IS350 is "better" in drive and handling, makes me question your overall take on the 1's ride and handling. I've driven the IS350 auto, the IS250 auto and the IS250 manual.
The 350 HAS power. The 250, not so much. The manual in the 250 simply, SUCKS. It's nothing like the former IS300's manual.
The ride on the 350 is smooth, but very soft. Any idea of spirited "sport driving" is quickly and decidedly put to rest on the first hard right, where the car will corner as flat as a basketball. If Lexus really wanted to compete with BMW in terms of sport performance RWD cars, then they should have refined the IS300, which was much closer to how a BMW drives and handles.
Instead, they decided to put more luxury in this segment.

In the final analysis, I agree the sport suspension in the 1, needs work.
As it is right now, the 1 "sport" suspension seems too much a compromise.
If they were to have simply tuned the 1 as they do the 3's sport suspension, we would be signing it's praises.
IMO, BMW's shift to RFT's in their whole line has lessened their former "magical" suspension tuning.

As far as their "free maintenance" being disingenuous, I couldn't disagree more. It's a major PLUS that BMW still does this.
BMW has been doing this extended oil drain interval since the E46. If this were so bad, then we'd be hearing of BMW engines failing much earlier than other brands that do it sooner. However, that is NOT the case.
It's been at least a decade that BMW has done this method, and their engines are still regarded as some of the best, even in longevity.
Have you heard that BMW engines over the past decade are to be avoided due to major engine failure attributed to long oil drain intervals?
I haven't. So, why the concern? It's proven itself.

Yes, it's not constructive to give misinformation to those who may be considering purchasing one. But then, you have some "opinions" here that I feel are misleading as they really are your opinion. Of course, you're entitled to it, but so are those who don't agree with you.

Is there more confidence in Lexus reliability? Sure. The stats show this. But, I knew this well before I decided on which car to buy. I'll take the added 10% chance of something going wrong, to get a car that drives better, handles better, and gives me a greater level of driving satisfaction. For me, drive-ability trumps reliability.
Others don't agree. That's cool. Everyone has to decide what they value more.
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      07-31-2009, 09:32 PM   #20
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tiny fuel tank, god damn
For sure.

I wonder why they did this?
One positive I can see, is that it lowers the overall weight when fully loaded.
So, it does help the performance a bit.

One other thing, for me, is that I don't get "sticker shock" when I fill it up, but we do have to stop more often. For a car that doesn't get such great MPG, a small tank is annoying.
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      07-31-2009, 09:39 PM   #21
RPM90
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Drives: 335i Msport w/sport AT
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Originally Posted by Eyeman View Post
I'm also sort of coming from a Porsche (had an Audi also) and am in agreement with this original review. Other than the motor, my One is much more comparable to my Audi than my Porsche But for the price, etc, that's what I expected. I'd still rank my One as one of or maybe even the best daily driver ever. I did change to KW V1's and now my ride is nearly as stiff as my Porsche 968 but with more roll. It's now probably not as good of a daily driver now but I like it better. I'll probably upgrade my front sway bar soon.

I really love the N54 and it's potential. The headlights are incredible. My least favorite features are the small gas tank and fuel pump concerns.
Right before my 135i, I had a 2006 A4 2.0 quattro S-line (sport suspension).
My 135i is more comparable to a sport A4, I agree.
The A4, with quattro and sport suspension, and great tires is a very nice automobile.
Still, my 135i has a greater level of handling. The ride is close, but my 1 is a tad bouncier than the A4.

I actually liked the "adaptive" headlights in the A4 more than my 135i.
In the A4 the lights swiveled left to right, but also up and down.
On accel the lights would level themselves, as they did on hard decel too.
The low beam throw was better too. Maybe I need to adjust my 135i's headlights?
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      07-31-2009, 09:41 PM   #22
RPM90
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Originally Posted by rcracer_tx View Post
yeah, there is definitely more steering feedback on the Bimmer, but the suspension is much less skittish on the Lexus imho.
I remember the IS350 around mid-corner bumps. It didn't like them at all as the rear wheels would "hunt" for where to be. I don't get that in my 135i.

The IS also had a numb feel at the wheel. Nicely isolated to a fault.
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