2012 135 New Car Test Drive
The BMW 1 Series features improved aerodynamics and interior refinements for the 2012 model year, plus a high-performance 1 Series M Coupe has joined the lineup.
The 2012 BMW 128i Coupe and Convertible models get a redesigned front fascia for improved aerodynamics along with new design accents around the headlight and tail light clusters. Inside, all 2012 BMW 1 Series models have been updated with new switches and controls for a more refined look and feel.
New for 2012 is the 1 Series M Coupe, a high-performance version that can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in just 4.7 seconds on its way to a ridiculously high speed, limited electronically at 155 mph.
The BMW 1 Series is the marque's smallest car, in some ways the spiritual successor to the BMW 2002 produced 1968-76 and in other ways the 320i that followed. The BMW 128i and 135i coupes and convertibles deliver the sporty dynamics of rear-wheel drive, agile handling, powerful engines and seating for four, all those attributes we've come to expect from the Bavarian automaker, in a smaller, more affordable package.
The BMW 128i Coupe and Convertible are powered by a 3.0-liter inline-6 that generates 230 horsepower and 200 foot-pounds of torque. They're available with 6-speed manual or 6-speed Steptronic automatic. BMW says the 128i can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 7.0 seconds with the automatic, 6.4 seconds with the manual.
The BMW 135i features BMW's newest 3.0-liter inline-6, a single-turbocharged engine that generates 300 horsepower and 300 foot-pounds of torque. The BMW 135i Coupe and Convertible are available with a sporty 7-speed Dual Clutch Transmission or 6-speed manual gearbox, which we found silky smooth and a pleasure to operate. A BMW 135i can accelerate from zero to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds with the manual gearbox, 5.3 seconds with the 7-speed DCT. Fuel economy from the BMW 135i Coupe is 20/28 mpg City/Highway with the manual.
A BMW 1 Series Convertible can drop its top in just 22 seconds. Top-down motoring is one of life's great joys, so this is a great feature.
A BMW 1 Series model is nearly seven inches shorter than a 3 Series car. The 1 Series wheelbase is four inches shorter than that of the 3 Series, and it's a significant 2.7 inches narrower in width. The 1 Series brings BMW's highly developed rear-wheel-drive platform to compete with cars in the entry luxury coupe class that mostly use front-wheel drive.
In many ways, the 1 Series is nothing more or less than a scaled-down version of the 3 Series, with similar looks, similar equipment and similar performance and handling. Indeed, it uses many of the same components and systems. The 135i is a smaller, lighter package with the same engine as the 3 Series for a lot less money. The BMW 1 Series was launched in the U.S. as a 2008 model, initially only as a coupe.
We like these cars. They are comfortable; sitting in one is like sitting in a 3 Series. They only seat four, however. Underway, they are sporty and agile, driver's cars, with the feel of rear-wheel drive. We found a 128i Convertible is a delight and it has enough power. Most fun to drive is a 135i Coupe. We recommend against the M suspension due to the hard ride. The new single-turbocharged engine turns the 135i into a little hot rod, and it seems to have a bit more torque lower down, where we use most of it in everyday driving.
The new BMW 1 Series M delivers race car performance.
The 2012 BMW 128i Coupe ($30,950) comes with leatherette upholstery; dual-zone automatic climate control; interior air filter; AM/FM/CD/HD audio with auxiliary input jack; tilt/telescoping leather-wrapped, multi-function steering wheel; height-adjustable front seats; cruise control; high-gloss black interior trim; split folding rear seat; power windows, door locks, and heated mirrors; remote keyless entry; trip computer; outside-temperature display; rain-sensing variable-intermittent wipers with heated washers; rear defogger; automatic headlights; theft-deterrent system; fog lights; and P205/50R17 run-flat tires on alloy wheels. A 6-speed manual gearbox comes standard, a 6-speed Steptronic automatic is optional (no charge).
The BMW 135i Coupe ($39,050) includes a firmer sport suspension and high-performance brakes, M Sport aero body kit, adaptive xenon headlights with washers, sunroof, Gray Poplar wood interior trim, and P215/40YR18 front tires leading P245/35YR18 rears. A 6-speed manual is standard the 7-speed DCT dual clutch automated manual transmission is optional ($450).
The BMW 128i Convertible ($36,600) and BMW 135i Convertible ($43,800) are equipped similarly to their coupe counterparts, except they don't have folding rear seats or a sunroof, and they ride on less radical rubber. The 128i soft top comes with P205/55HR16 run-flat rubber front and rear, while the 135i convertible gets P205/50R17 run-flat tires. Both come with a fully automatic fabric folding top. The BMW 135i Convertible does not have the Coupe's body kit. A 6-speed manual gearbox comes standard on 1 Series Convertibles; the 6-speed automatic is optional on the 128i (no charge); the 7-speed DCT is optional for 135i ($450).
The M Sport Package for the 128i Coupe ($2,450) and 128i Convertible ($2,700) comes with the increased top-speed limiter, M Sport front seats, M Sport steering wheel, aluminum interior trim, Shadowliner trim, body cladding, sport suspension, and performance tires. The coupe also gets a black headliner. The M Sport Package for the 135i Coupe ($1,300) and 135i Convertible ($1,200) includes the increased top-speed limiter, M Sport seats, M Sport steering wheel, black headliner (coupe), Shadowline trim, body cladding, and 18-inch performance tires.
A Premium Package upgrades with leather upholstery, 8-way power front seats with lumbar adjustment, memory for the driver's seat and mirrors, BMW Assist telematics service, Bluetooth wireless cell phone link, auto-dimming power-folding exterior mirrors, wood interior trim, universal garage door opener, auto-dimming rearview mirror, compass, illuminated visor mirrors, and additional interior lights. The 128i coupe version also includes a sunroof. A Convenience Package includes rear park assist, keyless access and starting, steering-linked adaptive xenon headlights, and an alarm. A Cold Weather Package ($900) adds heated front seats, a trunk pass-through with a ski sack, and headlight washers. A Sport Package ($1,300) for the 128i models includes sports suspension, sport seats, Shadowline exterior trim, an increased top-speed limiter, and P205/50R17 front and P225/45R17 rear run-flat tires. You can also add the seats, top-speed limiter, and trim to the 135i ($1,100), which also comes with P215/40R18 front and P245/35R18 rear performance tires.
Options include leather upholstery ($1,450), heated front seats ($500), heated steering wheel ($150), navigation system ($2,100), BMW Assist ($750) with Bluetooth connectivity, Sirius satellite radio ($350), iPod/USB adapter ($400), Smartphone integration ($150), steering wheel shift paddles ($120), Harman Kardon audio ($875), 8-way power front seats ($995), and adaptive xenon headlights ($900). Wood trim is available on the 128i ($500) and can be omitted from the 135i (for no charge).
The BMW 1 Series M Coupe ($46,135) uses a twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline six, a 6-speed manual transmission, M3 suspension, M3 disc-compound material, 19-inch light alloy M3 wheels, M variable differential lock, M Dynamic Mode, M Button (selectable throttle mapping), M3 steering wheel, electronic power steering, 12-way power seats, black leather interior, Alcantara trim, orange contrast stitching, Xenon adaptive headlights, and rain sensor. Options: The Convenience Package ($2,700) adds navigation, alarm system, remote access, rear only park-distance control; Premium Package ($2,400) adds auto-dimming mirrors, power front seats, lumbar support, ambiance lighting, BMW Assist automatic post-collision notification, Bluetooth, iPod and USB Adaptor; Heated Front Seats ($500); BMW Assist/Bluetooth ($750); Satellite radio ($350); Harman Kardon audio ($875); iPod/USB Adaptor ($400); BMW Apps ($250).
Safety features that come standard on the 1 Series include dual front airbags, seat-mounted front side-impact airbags, side curtain airbags (coupe only), ABS, electronic stability control, traction control, cornering brake control, and launch control for getting started on slippery surfaces. The brake lights include a panic-braking mode that lights up the entire lens extra bright whenever the brake pedal is stomped hard. The federally mandated tire-pressure monitor is standard.