2008 BMW 135i Coupe Review

Gobs of power with almost no turbo lag

2008 BMW 135i Coupe Review

I’ve driven so many nice sports cars this year that it’s difficult to remember them all. One of the undeniable highlights is still the 2008 BMW 135i. Available in rear-wheel drive coupe or convertible form, the new 1 Series comes with a powerful and efficient 3.0-liter, inline six-cylinder engine, great suspension tuning, a sporty upscale design and lots of standard goodies.


The biggest highlight for many is that the 1-series even comes with the same 300-hp twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline-six that’s in the 335i. Imagine that powerplant in a car is that is shorter, lighter and only available with two doors and you have my attention.

A fully-loaded 1 Series, like the black sapphire metallic 135i coupe I tested, goes for about the same money as its larger 335i coupe counterpart. My tester tops out at almost $50-grand including the destination and handling once the premium package and options are tallied up.

Compared to the naturally-aspirated 3.0-liter engine in the 128i model, the turbocharged version boasts a smaller bore, longer stroke and more aggressive engine programming. It has an extra 70 hp that’s available earlier in the powerband, as well as an extra 100 ft-lbs of torque that peaks at 1400 rpm putting out 300 hp and 300 ft-lbs respectively.

Power delivery is strong with little if any trace of turbo lag. BMW claims the coupe will do zero-to-60 mph in 5.5-seconds with either the six-speed manual transmission or optional six-speed automatic which boasts the Steptronic shift mode with paddles. Top speed is electronically-limited to 150 mph.


The 135i models get an uprated sport suspension, which, when combined with massive (and optional) 18-inch M-style double spoke wheels, ensures this car stays glued to the road. With a 53/47 (front/rear) weight distribution, the 3,384 lb car behaves exactly how you’d expect it to with oversteer rearing its head only when pushed hard. And, I mean hard.

Engine-speed sensitive power steering comes standard on the 1 Series, but the optional active steering system is well worth the extra money it commands. It’s more precise and decreases the turning radius remarkably, which is especially useful at slow speeds where small steering wheel inputs return large outputs at the front wheels – great for tight parking lots, etc. At faster speeds, the system automatically reprograms itself to track straighter and turn-in smoother. With a great on-centre feel and an alpine skiing-like edge feel to it, the 135i can be driven confidently on your favorite twisty roads.



he 1 Series is powered by the same 300hp twin-turbo six found in the 335i.


It doesn’t exactly have an entry-level price and fully option-out can come close to $50,000.


Vented performance brakes also come standard on these models. The rotors are larger than 128i models, with six-piston front and two-piston rear calipers clamping down on them. There’s more than enough stopping power for everyday driving. All 1 Series models get a bunch of active safety features, including ABS, dynamic stability control with extended functionality, including automatic stability with traction control, dynamic brake control and distribution. An electronic limited slip differential also helps put power down.


All traction and stability systems can be turned off and the performance of this car is not in question. During my week with it, I still managed a respectable combined fuel economy of about 21 mpg. Not bad considering the U.S. EPA estimates are 18/26 mpg (city/highway). Of course, the fact that all Bimmers sip high octane fuel is a bit of a downer.


Inside, the interior boasts coral red Boston leather throughout with real carbon fiber dash trim to match the outside mirrors. The six-way adjustable sport seats offer a thigh extender for the driver and all controls are well laid out and within reach. The right side of the steering wheel even has four buttons that can be programmed to operate any number of convenience features. For instance, you can open and close the optional display, which is used for navigation, audio controls and the like. BMW also has great iPod integration that allows full control over the device from the vehicle itself.

Some noteworthy interior standards include 60/40 split-folding rear seats with a pass-through, filtered dual-zone automatic climate control and an advanced head protection system for the front and rear to go along with a host of front and side airbags. That’s all just for starters.


Some of the limitations include very little legroom in the rear and pricey optional upgrade packages that many buyers don’t need or wouldn’t want. Most could do without the active cruise control or iDrive (part of the navigation option), for instance.

BMW’s active steering is amazing and, the more time I spend with the so-called “unintuitive” iDrive control system, the easier to use and more familiar it becomes. Like any portable electronic device – a mobile phone or MP3 player for example – you just need to invest some time to learn how to use it before it really becomes useful.


The 135i Coupe gets high marks for its fun factor and superb performance. It’s a normal everyday car with plenty of bells and whistles included. It has excellent road manners, but on a whim can turn mischievous. Despite the absence of an M package, this car is seriously fun. Whether you are whipping around town or stretching its legs out in the countryside, the 135i conjures up emotions that will not soon be forgotten.


300hp in such a small package Six speed auto and manual offered Incredibly well-equipped interior


Almost as expensive as a 335i Quite heavy for such a small car Some options only available in pricey packages

« Back

AutoGuide.com’s Monthly Overlay Newsletter Signup – By subscribing to our email newsletter, Entrants are eligible to win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (value of $100.00 USD). One (1) winner will be chosen every month at random and contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. *Amazon.com is not a sponsor of this promotion. Except as required by law, Amazon.com Gift Cards ("GCs") cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods at Amazon.com or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see www.amazon.com/gc-legal. GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. No expiration date or service fees.


2. PRIZE: One (1) Winner will be randomly selected every month to each receive: one (1) $100.00 Amazon.com Gift Card (the “Prize Supplier”). Total approximate retail value of all prizes is approximately $100.00 USD. Prizes are not transferable and no cash or prize substitution is allowed. Prize package is awarded "as is" with no warranty or guarantee, either express or implied.

3. ELIGIBILITY: From the time of entry through the final date of prize fulfillment, each contest entrant and selected entrant must be a permanent lawful citizen and resident residing in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia or in Canada, and be twenty one (21) years of age or older. VOID IN PUERTO RICO, THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, IN ALL FOREIGN COUNTRIES OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES, AND ALL OTHER U.S. TERRITORIES OR CANADA AND POSSESSIONS AND WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. Employees, officers, directors, agents and representatives, of the Sponsor and the Prize Supplier and each of their respective parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, promotion partners and any entity involved in the development, production, implementation, administration or fulfillment of this Sweepstakes, and the immediate family members (e.g., spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, grandparent, in-law, daughter and son, regardless of where they live) and persons living in the same household (whether or not related) of such individuals are not eligible to participate or win. Only one selected entrant per household. All decisions of the Sponsor with respect to this sweepstakes are final. The Sponsor shall have the right at any time to require proof of identity and failure to provide such proof may result in disqualification from the Sweepstakes.

4. ENTER BY INTERNET: You may enter this sweepstakes via the Internet by logging onto AutoGuide.com and subscribing to our email newsletter via the pop-up overlay.

5. SELECTION OF WINNER: One (1) Entrant will be selected by random selection who have subscribed to our email newsletter. The winner may be announced publicly on AutoGuide.com and will be contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. The winner will be required to provide a mailing address (that is not a P.O. box) to receive the prize which will be shipped free of charge.

6. ODDS OF WINNING: Odds of winning a prize are determined by the total number of eligible entries received.

7. RESTRICTIONS: The prize package consists of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card with an approximate value of $100.00 USD. If prize cannot be awarded due to circumstances beyond the control of the Sponsor or Prize Supplier, no substitute prize will be awarded due to the unique nature of the prize. Sponsor and Prize Supplier shall not be liable to the winner or any person claiming through winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action(s), regulation(s), order(s) or request(s) by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action(s), regulations(s), order(s) or request(s) prove(s) to be invalid), equipment failure, utility failure, internet failure, terrorist acts, threatened terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond Sponsor's or Prize Supplier's control (collectively, "Force Majeure Event"). Sponsor shall not be responsible for any cancellations, delays, diversions or substitutions or any act or omissions whatsoever by the performers/events, other transportation companies or any other persons providing any of these services and accommodations to passengers including any results thereof such as changes in services or accommodations necessitated by same.

8. CONDITIONS: By entering the Sweepstakes, entrants agree to be bound by the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions and that Sponsor has the irrevocable right to use in perpetuity entrants' names, user names, likenesses, photographs, voices, home mailing address, biographical and prize information, and entry materials, without notice to entrants and without compensation or obligation, in any and all media now or hereafter known throughout the world, in any manner whatsoever, to advertise and promote Sponsor, its products and services, the Sweepstakes, and for any other purpose except where prohibited by law. Entrant waives the right to assert as a cost of winning a prize any and all costs of verification and redemption or travel to redeem said prize and any liability which might arise from redeeming or seeking to redeem said prize. Sponsor is not responsible for fraudulent calls or emails made to entrants not by the Sponsor. If the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned by reason of damage by computer viruses, worms or bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical limitations or failures, any Force Majeure Event or any other cause which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, could corrupt, compromise, undermine or otherwise affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, viability or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend all or any part of the Sweepstakes, and to select a winner from among all eligible entries received by Sponsor up until the time of such cancellation, termination, modification or suspension, as applicable. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual that (i) tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operations of this Sweepstakes in any manner, (ii) violates the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions or (iii) acts in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT OR ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK CIVIL AND/OR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION AND/OR DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. Any expenses and receipt and use of the prize and federal, state and local taxes and fees applicable in connection with the prize awarded are the sole responsibility of the winner. An IRS Form 1099 will be issued in the name of the winner for the actual value of the prize received. This Sweepstakes is subject to all federal, state and local laws of the United States. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Sponsor, Prize Supplier, and their respective officers, directors, parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries and advertising and promotion agencies, employees, representatives and agents are not responsible for and shall not be liable for (i) any injuries, losses or damages of any kind caused by a prize resulting from acceptance, possession or usage of the prize, or (ii) printing, distribution or production errors. Sponsor or its affiliates may rescind any promotion found to contain such errors without liability at its or their sole discretion.

9. SPONSOR: The Sponsor of this contest is VerticalScope Inc. (the owner and operator of AutoGuide.com), 111 Peter Street, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2H1.

Subscribe to our email newsletter and automatically be entered to win.
*Restrictions apply. See offer for details

Get Breaking Automotive News, Reviews and Video in your Facebook Feed!

Already Liked