The Garage

Auf Wiedersehen

Goodbye to what’s possibly the best driver’s hot hatch

TIME’S up for 1ID-7CK – those three months went extremely quickly.

Trouble is, even if BMW was happy for us to keep it longer we couldn’t have, as we drove it so much it was fast approaching the 10,000km at which test cars are grounded. It’s a mark of the high esteem in which we hold the M140i that it racked up kays so quickly, but before we wrap-up the good, the bad and the ugly of BMW’s uber-hatch we need to talk tyres.

The Performance Edition comes fitted with snazzy 19-inch wheels, but because all the PE gear is fitted locally, each car comes on the big boat from the Fatherland wearing its standard 18-inch rims. To save itself T from having 60 pairs of M140i rims cluttering up its warehouse, BMW Australia provides buyers with both sets of rims, so with our long-termer reaching the end of its tenure it was time to swap.

If you’re wondering why we’d bother, the answer is that the two rim sizes wear different rubber. The standard 18s use Michelin Pilot Super Sports, while the 19s are fitted with Pirelli P Zero run-flats. That said, it wasn’t long before I was wondering why I bothered. As tyre swaps go it was about as far from the two-pointsomething- second efforts of various F1 teams as you could imagine.

The first unfortunate discovery was the lack of any tyre-changing equipment in the back of the BMW.

A visiting Audi press car donated a tyre iron and a trolley jack was found, only to find the latter wouldn’t fit under the front bumper. Thankfully, it j-u-s-t squeezed under the side sills and around 30 dirty, sweaty minutes, a few skinned knuckles and many curse words later the M140i was wearing a shiny new set of boots. This is why the rattle gun was invented.

So, did the car feel any different?

Yes, a little. It certainly looked different. The 19s are a nice design (though time-consuming to clean) and fill the guards better, but I’m actually quite a fan of the standard 18s. (While we’re on the topic of looks, I can’t understand the hate for the


Michelins make it a better car


Spending an hour changing tyres

1 Series’ styling. The initial F20 design, with its squinty headlights, was a bit of an eyesore, but since the facelift it just strikes me as a fairly inoffensive five-door box.)

Differences between the two tyres’ behaviour were slight. As a more sporting tyre, the Michelins gave greater outright grip, though were also a little more abrupt when they started to slide, and the taller sidewall (40-series vs the Pirelli’s 35-series) and non-runflat construction gave the car a bit more compliance, though the margins were small. With a gun to my head I’d take the Michelins, but honestly I’d probably keep the 19s on for road use and keep the spare 18s for the track, one place we sadly didn’t get to venture during our time with the M140i PE.

Nonetheless, it’s easy to come to a conclusion about the M140i. It’s absolutely one of our favourite hot hatches, the combination of that smooth and super-grunty turbo straight-six and rear-drive handling never failing to bring out the inner hoon and enticing you to drive that little bit more enthusiastically than is really necessary. It has the roll-on pace to stick with the likes of the Audi RS3 and Mercedes-AMG A45, yet is more involving and thanks to a recent price cut to $59,990 for the base car, miles cheaper than both.

The Performance Edition is a harder sell. It’s a good value package, especially when you price up the various components individually, and the inclusion of the limited-slip diff on the 15 manual cars is an inspired choice – we stick by our assertion it should be standard fit.

The rest – M Performance exhaust, carbon and Alcantara interior bits, 19s, etc – is nice if you’re after something more exclusive, but personally I’d be very happy buying a standard M140i, ticking the heated cloth seats box and spending the money saved on that chunk of metal in the rear axle. Either way, it’s a great car, buy one while you can. – SN

End Of The Road

With its super-grunty turbo straight-six and rear-drive handling the M140i is absolutely one of our favourite hot hatches

The humble Toyota 86 knows how to satisfy someone who loves their rear-drive handling

After five months we farewell our Toyota 86

FIVE INSTALMENTS and more than 5000km across two variants of Toyota’s updatedfor- 2017 86 and we can report that it’s basically the same car as launched in 2012, but the interior tweaks, concentrated on the GTS, make it just that much nicer to live with.

And the brand new chassis electronics – ESP and traction control – are game-changing in that more people who buy the 86 are able to enjoy its wonderful handling with a safety net intact. Previously the electronics would intervene so clumsily and abruptly you had to turn them off to properly enjoy a fast drive.

Which would leave you exposed.

Fortunately, not anymore.

Aside from those two things, the updated 86 really just looks a little nicer (thanks to a new front bar, rear spoiler and 17-inch wheel design) and goes a little harder, thanks to bumped-up outputs (up 5kW and 7Nm to 152kW/212Nm) and a shorter final drive in the manual models. Prices are also up slightly ($800 for GT, now $30,790; and $500 for the manual GTS, now $36,490) for what has been a mild but effective update on the now F five-year old 86.

Would we buy one? Yes, of course – a GTS ideally. The engine is still as dull, uninspiring-sounding and limp below 6500rpm as ever (7400rpm redline) and indeed it remains a gripe of the car. While it does the job in the higher revs, making for a surprisingly quick clip, it is very difficult to feel affection for it. But it’s more than made up for by the handling. If you love driving, particularly in a reardrive setting, the 86 is still easily one the most fun and satisfying cornering devices under $100,000.

There is a slight trade-off, and another long-term gripe – this is still a bumpy-riding car. We dream of the day Toyota fits adaptive dampers to its 86 like a VW Polo GTI or Golf GTI, but we are indeed dreaming. If the 86 had a nicer ‘Comfort-mode’ ride, it would be the whole package.

Despite any complaints, one conclusion I’ve reached is that I will own an 86 one day. A used one.

Even now there are so many for sale with full service histories, less than 75,000km in mint condition and owned by people who – not to judge books by their covers – would rarely go over 5000rpm. And the market is slowly filling with used 86s, driving down prices. The cheapest used 86 I could find online was a 2013 GT for $16,500. In five years they will start dipping below $10,000.

If your idea of driving thrills doesn’t require 600 horsepower, an 86 might be all the sports car you need. I’ve had as much fun driving an 86 (or BRZ) as I have had driving a Ferrari 488 or Porsche 911 GT3. While those cars are undoubtedly much more exciting, the humble 86 knows how to please when you arrive on a twisty road.

Buy a new GTS for the daily grind and you’ll appreciate the slightly jazzed-up interior; and, when pushing the envelope a little bit, the smarter chassis electronics which you no longer have to fully deactivate like the first generation systems.

Or buy a GT, fit a half cage, upgrade the brakes and fit wheels in a size that can handle a tyre like the Michelin Pilot Sport Cup2 or Bridgestone RE-71R. Adding grip to an 86 should make it much more fun.

And if that doesn’t make sense to you, consider that a red flag that you might never be satisfied with the 86’s level of power. – DC


This is as fun as cars get. Simple


Engine impossible to fall in love with