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09 Jan 2017 | Text by Julian Kho, Photos by Low Fai Ming
Weapon of Mass Destruction
It may not be a true blue M car, but the M140i certainly matches up to a proper one with its exceptional driving experience.
Now known as the M140i, the latest Bavarian hot hatch replaces the M135i, with significant changes found only underneath its bonnet.
Like before, the powerplant remains to be a 3.0-litre in-line six, but performance has been tweaked by a TwinPower turbo engine with variable valve and camshaft control, and high-precision direct injection that produces 15bhp and 40Nm of twisting force more than its predecessor.
Love the new number, but how does it drive?
It's a sweet dancer on the tarmac, this one. Despite having a massive 340bhp and 500Nm of torque that allow the M140i to shoot straight for the century mark with unbridled ferocity in just 4.6 seconds, it's the engine's flexibility that attracts and impresses you the most.
Unlike an Audi S3 Sportback or a Volkswagen Golf R, signs of forced induction is down to bare minimal with the Bimmer, thanks to a responsive motor that listens to your every bidding, at any revs. The very fact that an immense torque kicks in at the lower end further helps in this aspect.
On long and winding roads, the M140i holds its own extremely well, as it manages to change directions furiously and quickly without any sign of nervousness.
The taut chassis, firm suspension setup and talkative steering all do their part to make you feel like an expert driver. Drop the car into Sport mode and the car snaps corners with absolute savage, accompanied by a sweet and boisterous soundtrack that constantly eggs you to go even faster and harder.
Does that mean it's too much to handle around town?
Not one bit, actually. We abided the law around town just to see if the car feels at home and sure enough, it scored high on good behaviour. Credit goes to its forgiving ride and tofu smooth eight-speed gearbox, which make driving such a high performance car a pleasantly easy experience. Of course given its setup, there's a bit of grumble over bigger undulations on the tarmac, but it's never painful or severe.
Make me an offer I can't refuse
The car that you see here will set you back $221,800 (as of 19th January 2017). While you can have other options with this amount of money, the BMW M140i is, undoubtedly, an all-rounded and understated car that's close to perfect in terms of performance, driveability and functionality.
In that sense, it isn't just another one of those cars that comes seriously packed with performance but at the price of functionality. Like its M135i predecessor, the M140i doesn't fail in terms of space, too, thanks to a deep 360-litre boot space that will further expand to a massive 1,200 litres with rear seats folded.
But the icing on the cake? It's the sweet proposition that the M140i isn't just the top-of-the-line 1 Series in BMW's lineup but it's also the only rear-wheel drive car in its class, which makes it that much more desirable.
6-cylinder in-line 24-valve M TwinPower Turbocharged
254kW (340 bhp) / 5500 rpm
500 Nm / 4500 rpm
Acceleration (0-100 km/h)