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      04-07-2009, 07:32 PM   #1
elciddragon
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Everyday driveability of 1 series on our wonderful Boston-area roads...

If anyone has the patience to make it through to the end of this long-post, I would very much appreciate some thoughts on your day to day driving of 128s and 135s alike! Also, please agree or disagree with some of what I have pointed out from my limited experience with both cars and being new to the BMW brand.

I finally had the ability to test drive the 128i/manual/non-sport and the 135i/step/default-sport over the past few days in two different locations. My current point of reference is the 1997 Audi A4 2.8 Quattro that I currently own. I am set on getting a manual with whatever car I take, but it has been difficult locating a 135i manual to test drive. I went in with the preconceived bias that I was going to love the power of the 135i, that I had to have it, and that it was necessary to tick the sport box on the 128i to get the better suspension...but after driving the cars I am trying to take in a few minutes of driving and extrapolate out to what it will be like to live with the car in the Boston area which is proving to be quite difficult for me.

A summary of some of my thoughts from the test drives:

1. Coming from the Audi, the BMW clutch catches way lower and much quicker which took some getting used to. As strange as it seems I can get smoother shifts the quicker I shift rather than the way it is in my Audi where more gentle inputs yield more refined motion. After I got the "trick" this constitutes a definite improvement with less time spent off the power.

2a. The 128i is already significantly quicker than my current car and more than enough power for everyday purposes. The 135i definitely gives an extra little boost in performance, but with the amount of rain that we get, quality of the roads, and the fact that I would typically drive with the traction control fully on for safety on 99% of occassions makes the 128i power more useable than the 135i.

2b. In the 135i, any attempt to exercise the engine on both test drives while turning out of a bend (and in the rain in a straight line) brought signifcant cuts in engine power and flashing symbols on the dash from the DTC. WIth the 128i, no matter how much I leaned into the pedal, it just gripped and took off. Of course I may sacrifice a few tenths, but rather than focusing on not breaking traction, I feel like it is easier to appreciate the rest of the car beyond the engine without worrying about the aids cutting power constantly.

3. Like I said, i was set on getting the sport package to get the better suspension, but I am worried about what I felt while driving the 135i's. My first test drive involved some driving on the two-lane stretch of 128 north of route 1 and any lane change brought about signifcant sensations of the car tramlining. Furthermore, the exit ramps on this stretch of road are not the greatest and the 135i seemed to be very unsettled over the bumps. I stress seemed, because I know that at the limit I can take it faster than a 128i, and numerically the car corners better, but the unsettled feeling is not the greatest. Even on a better quality road like route 9 out west, the 135i seems to want to follow every rut in the road, whereas the 128i seemed more compliant.

4. The 135i's brakes were significantly better in the wet than the 128i, with reduced difference seen in the dry test.

The reason that even though the 128i feels better right now I am not completely sold on "settling" for it is two-fold: Knowing something better exists for not that much more makes it hard to say no to that option. The second thing is that I am used to a very very compliant, soft, and body-roll filled ride with my Audi (sport suspension and all). It appears as if newer cars nowadays in general have sportier suspensions stock than what cars used to have as sport. I am thinking that maybe after getting used to the increased feedback the unsettled feeling may be replaced by simply a better recognition of what is going on in the road and I will sense important feedback and naturally tune out the tramlining, bumpyness etc.

How does this compare with what everyone else feels about their cars in this area after getting used to them?
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      04-07-2009, 07:55 PM   #2
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so that was a long write up and i got lazy... basically the 135i is a sweet car!
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      04-07-2009, 08:20 PM   #3
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I have a 128i coupe with the sport package and I find the ride to be still quite compliant. The 17" tires with the stiff run-flat sidewalls make the ride a but stiffer than my previous car on 17" wheels (Mazda3). When these tires wear out, I will definitely go non-runflat.

You were absolutely right about wet traction in the 128i. I can take off in the rain pretty aggressively and the car just goes without drama. My FWD Mazda would be wildly spinning wheels (well, one of them). I haven't driven a 135i in the wet but I am sure the 300 ft-lbs of torque at 1,400 would make this more dramatic.

Overall, I am very happy with the car. Do I wish it has more low-end torque? Absolutely but as a daily driver the 128i is still powerful enough and a lot of fun to drive.
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      04-07-2009, 08:29 PM   #4
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I've never driven the 128i or in New England, but I drive my 135i daily in NYC. The roads in Brooklyn are worse than anything i've ever experienced, but the car seems to handle bumps and uneven stretches very gracefully. I typically would not go over 60 mph on the highways here (traffic), but the car seems very planted and once again takes bumps very nicely. The suspension is somewhat stiff, but not bouncy or unsettling in my limited experience. I wouldn't say its overly stiff though, seems just right for my purposes (enthusiastic driving with few and far between track days). I don't have any problem controlling the power either. If you monitor your right foot you keep keep it fun without burning out the dsc/dtc lights. I'm still getting used to the clutch also as it catches very differently from my previous toyota.

In short, I think the 135i offers a very sporty feel and great handling while still being comfortable on most all roads. The power is excellent, and I wouldn't be concerned with having too much. Plus you get 6-piston brakes, tighter suspension, and some other nice features as well. Hope this helps.

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      04-07-2009, 08:30 PM   #5
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I think that if you swapped out the tires on the either of them, you would like the ride better. However, my vote goes for the 135. I love feeling in tune with the road. I drive everywhere (30k miles right now....) route 3, 495, route 2, 95. I don't tend to have problems. I did notice once I got different tires that the car does ride differently. The brakes are incredible, everyone who rode with me in auto-x was supremely impressed. Even if you're leaning to the 135 over the 128, wouldn't it be better to go with the 135, instead of the 128 and maybe regretting it later?
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      04-07-2009, 08:31 PM   #6
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The 18" wheels on the sport package + the stock runflat tires (very stiff sidewalls) = a bit of harshness in the ride. After having both runflats and non-runflats on the 135, I'm pretty certain that the difference in ride quality you experienced between the 128 and the 135 can be attributed to the tires, not the sport suspension. Go with the 135 and learn to enjoy the yellow flashing triangle on the dash.
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      04-07-2009, 08:31 PM   #7
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135i observations, as that's what I have....

I do find the car tramlining a bit. Have you test driven a car with active steering? That may counteract any tramlining you feel.

However, I find the suspension to be far more friendly to the car occupants than any aftermarket sport tuned suspension. I don't cringe when I hit the smaller pot holes, which would rattle teeth free in my other car.

The RE050A RFT tires on the 135 definitely spin easily, especially when it's cold and/or wet. You'll find them to be better in warmer weather. That said, it is easy to acclimate yourself to feeding the throttle at the right pace to hold traction.
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      04-07-2009, 08:32 PM   #8
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Im in NY and our roads are shit too. The 135i is useable...In my opinion the 135i is under tired. I actually have more traction out of my winter tires, which are slightly bigger 225 up front and 255 in the rear. My traction light has not come on for 3 months. The roads in short are crap. I hit a massive pothole today (waiting for a day to see if a bubble develops). But i have a vert I dont notice that unsettled feeling you described (maybe its the extra weight?)

But in the end Im thinking that a 128i would have been the more practical choice.

That being said, now that I have it I would not trade my 135i for a 128i ever. Opps...looks like I spoiled myself.
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      04-07-2009, 10:09 PM   #9
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I have a 128i manual with sport package and I find perfectly fine for me. More torque would be nice, but it is certainly enough for my sporty driving. I plan to do some autocrossing this year, but I suspect it will work fine for that as well (with the exception of poor tires).

I think the 17" wheels on the 128i help significantly with making the MA roads more bearable. It would probably be even better if the run flats were switched out for something with a more pliable sidewall.

If you upgraded the wheels/tires on the 128i, you would have even more traction. As is the wheels/tires are a bit of the narrow side, but fine for normal sporty driving. You just have understeer with 205 width up front. I may end up with a square 225 width setup in the future with non-runflats to even things out a bit. The stock tires on the 128i are very poorly rated on Tirerack, but are fine for normal driving. If you drive very agressively or autoX/track, you will probably want to upgrade. THe 135 will be better out of the box for tires, but still not great by any means.

Tramlining on rutted roads is a bit of an annoyance, but not overbearing. I rarely find myself fighting the car, except for short stretches on really rutted roads. I am not sure if it is more to do with the tires or the suspension... probably both.

I would say that the sport package is a must on either car for the seats alone.
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      04-07-2009, 10:38 PM   #10
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I'll say if you want to drive a fun car 128i is good, it kindda makes you work for a good drive. 135 is just brute power....it's kindda like insurance, you are paying for parts that you probably will never use... it also comes with free HPFP problem ..and you'll never stop spending money on it..JB1,2,3,4,5,6,76,74545643 so on. I like my 128i I am not going to tune it..it's enough power and i have fun with it, and the same amount of money, you can either 1. load it up with options. 2. don't get options and get after markets enough to turn the whole car around.
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      04-07-2009, 10:48 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bimmer74 View Post
I have a 128i coupe with the sport package and I find the ride to be still quite compliant. The 17" tires with the stiff run-flat sidewalls make the ride a but stiffer than my previous car on 17" wheels (Mazda3). When these tires wear out, I will definitely go non-runflat.

You were absolutely right about wet traction in the 128i. I can take off in the rain pretty aggressively and the car just goes without drama. My FWD Mazda would be wildly spinning wheels (well, one of them). I haven't driven a 135i in the wet but I am sure the 300 ft-lbs of torque at 1,400 would make this more dramatic.
Definitely one of my favorite parts was that I could focus more on exploiting the engine rather than feathering the throttle in, though I'm sure I could get used to the extra power...

Quote:
Originally Posted by timhatimay View Post
In short, I think the 135i offers a very sporty feel and great handling while still being comfortable on most all roads. The power is excellent, and I wouldn't be concerned with having too much. Plus you get 6-piston brakes, tighter suspension, and some other nice features as well. Hope this helps.

Tim
The brakes were definitely a step up, and the standard 135i look and the extra goodies like xenon lights that I would want to add anyways almost negate the base price difference. Good feedback, and definitely another point of comparison since I have not really been in any cars with aftermarket spring/dropped heavily so knowing the 135i is somewhere in between is reasurring.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rachel View Post
I think that if you swapped out the tires on the either of them, you would like the ride better. However, my vote goes for the 135. I love feeling in tune with the road. I drive everywhere (30k miles right now....) route 3, 495, route 2, 95. I don't tend to have problems. I did notice once I got different tires that the car does ride differently. The brakes are incredible, everyone who rode with me in auto-x was supremely impressed. Even if you're leaning to the 135 over the 128, wouldn't it be better to go with the 135, instead of the 128 and maybe regretting it later?
You make a good point, I think it would be hard to regret down...but definitely would be jealous if I pulled up next to a 135! When I changed the tires in my Audi to some nice quality Michelin Pilot Sports the difference was night and day. Grip increased tremendously beyond the limits that the standard Goodyears would be squealing for grip. Sounds like I will be looking for any excuse to go through my first set of RFTs to get to some good rubber!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Artmasterx View Post
I have a 128i manual with sport package and I find perfectly fine for me. More torque would be nice, but it is certainly enough for my sporty driving. I plan to do some autocrossing this year, but I suspect it will work fine for that as well (with the exception of poor tires).

I think the 17" wheels on the 128i help significantly with making the MA roads more bearable. It would probably be even better if the run flats were switched out for something with a more pliable sidewall.

I would say that the sport package is a must on either car for the seats alone.
The CA was adamant that the 17" vs 18" on the cars made no difference and it was the suspension, but I thought it was definitely the extra width of the tires adding to tramlining and also the slightly more compliant tire helping to deaden some of the imperfections.
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      04-07-2009, 10:55 PM   #12
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Thanks for all of the input guys (and gals). I know that the topic of 128i vs. 135i has been debated endlessly in the main section but it usually ends up degenerating to more power = better so it is nice to get some honest feedback. Definitely the 135i is my emotional choice, though I already love how the 128i drives. I think I can't go wrong either way, and it sounds like some good tires could fix some of the ride-quality issues as well as giving extra grip.
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      04-08-2009, 07:51 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bimmer74 View Post
You were absolutely right about wet traction in the 128i. I can take off in the rain pretty aggressively and the car just goes without drama.
Only if you are on pavement. On wet grass, you go nowhere. *whistles innocently*

amy!
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      04-08-2009, 07:55 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by amybang View Post
Only if you are on pavement. On wet grass, you go nowhere. *whistles innocently*

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      04-08-2009, 08:54 AM   #15
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Only if you are on pavement. On wet grass, you go nowhere. *whistles innocently*

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      04-08-2009, 08:58 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by windmaker View Post
silly amy
ROFL
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      04-08-2009, 09:37 AM   #17
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Sounds like you already know the answer to your question. Get the car you want, not what everyone else thinks you should get. I have the 135i and never gave a second thought to the the 128i. I have driven both and the 135i does it for me. I drive less than 10k a year so there are times that the 135i feels like overkill for me. I rarely get a chance to exploit it during the week due to short trips but that is my situation. I don't think you can go wrong with either car.
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      04-08-2009, 10:02 AM   #18
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I drive the 128i. No regrets so far. I have yet to "hit" a situation where I don't have the power or speed to pass someone on the highway, or to get myself into and out of trouble in general.

Oh, and my yellow triangle is pretty much always flashing...
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      04-08-2009, 10:30 AM   #19
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The 135 is livable in the city, especially once you ditch the runflats -- performance aside, regular tires make the ride much much less harsh over pothole-filled roads. You are never going to approach the limits of the engine inside the city, though, obviously.

The big difference you were feeling was probably 17" vs 18" rims, is my guess - the 18s transmit so much more harshness over potholes.

I agree with xantdieselx - get the car you want - both will be great in the city and with either one (especially the 135) you won't be able to use the power driving on city streets. That said, I have the 135, don't drive it hard in the city, but the full-throttle start onto route 2 to get to work is the highlight of my morning.
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      04-08-2009, 11:05 AM   #20
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It doesnt matter to me either 128 or 135. As long as its BMW. I dont really care much. If I get the 135, I will get more trouble since you guys yelled at me I drive too fast. >.<
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      04-08-2009, 12:10 PM   #21
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I ordered a 128i with the M Sport Package. I keep telling people that I don't have enough will power and self control to own a 135i.
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      04-08-2009, 03:28 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by roldan View Post
I agree with xantdieselx - get the car you want - both will be great in the city and with either one (especially the 135) you won't be able to use the power driving on city streets. That said, I have the 135, don't drive it hard in the city, but the full-throttle start onto route 2 to get to work is the highlight of my morning.
+100

spot on, roldan, spot on
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