BMW M140i

An endangered six-pot rear-driver to savour

RYAN LEWIS

FIRST AUSSIE DRIVE HIGH five to you, BMW, for sticking with the M140i and giving us a little longer to enjoy the only turbocharged six-cylinder and rear-wheel drive hot hatch in a segment dominated by front- and all-wheel drive fivedoors with boosted four-pots.

For 2018, the second-gen 1 Series has copped a minor update that will likely be its last hurrah.

Scuttlebutt suggests the nextgen (arriving 2019) will fall into line with its contemporaries by sharing transverse UKL underpinnings with the BMW X1 and 2 Series Active Tourer.

What does that mean? Reardrive is on its way out. So now is the time to relish this petite performerís platform purity.

To make it easier BMW has clipped the M140iís price point by almost $5000 to scrape in under $60K for the first time. Munich hopes to lure buyers up out of mainstream hot hatches like the VW Golf R and Renault Megane RS, and away from the Audi S3 Sportback.

Recent revisions introduce BMWís slicker iDrive6 appstyle infotainment interface and a reworked styling package for all 1 and 2 Series variants.

Mechanically, the M140i is unchanged, but thatís not cause for concern.

Up front the staggeringly good B58 3.0-litre inline six remains, generating 250kW and 500Nm Ė more torque than the pedigree BMW M2. It pairs seamlessly with an eight-speed torque converter auto (or six-speed manual) and itís this purring powertrain that takes centre stage in the M140i.

Burly acceleration and a vast power band launch it to 100km/h in 4.6sec, crooning a velvety note right up to redline.

Itís a competent handler, too.

The surefooted M140iís slightly artificial steering is more immediate than lower 1 series models, with less off-centre sneeze factor. Progressive turn-in gives good front-end bite, but the long-nosed hatch does succumb to understeer with sharp mid-corner adjustments.

Standard adaptive dampers cope well in most conditions, though the suspension would benefit from a greater range of travel. As it is, with limited amplitude, the back-end gets skittish over rising and falling road imperfections as the rear wheels struggle for grip under heavy throttle.

That rear-driven characteristic means thereís more to manage at the limit in the M140i. Itís an extra degree of difficulty for fans of point-and-click hot hatches like the VW Golf R, but the ultimate thrills offered by the M140i are unique to it. Itís an entertaining performer that retains a liveable, docile side. Enjoy its point of difference while you still can. entre Kitted up BMW iDrive6 infotainment appears in the 1 Series having quickly trickled down from the seventhgen 5 Series. It brings live content, improved voice control and a customisable look and feel now accessible via touchscreen in 125i and M140i models. Stepping up to the M140i from the volume-selling 125i is a $10K proposition that nets black 18-inch alloys, dynamic dampers, adaptive LED headlights, keyless entry and start (dubbed BMW Comfort Access), leather upholstery, electric seats and a Harman Kardon stereo. All that and a six-cylinder centrepiece.

PLUS & MINUS

Silken six-pot grunt, rear-drive character, practicality, gearboxes Awkward long-nose proportions; t e tyre roar; ageing interior