• Torque
    • Manual
    • Handling
    • Interior tech
    • perceived unreliability
    • actual unreliability

    About the BMW 135i

    P G purchased this BMW 135i used for $30,000 (including all on-road costs) in 2015. P G would buy this car again because: “I bought this car as a celebration after passing some exams. I wanted a different sports car experience after 5 years of modifying and daily driving a 2005 Integra Type S. I wanted a RWD, turbo, manual coupe that was less than 10 years old.

    “This was realistically the only car that fit my criteria within the budget. It came essentially stock, but that didn’t last long. The car (and mainly its n54 engine) has a huge following on the internet/Facebook groups with lots of support. I have made many new friends and enjoyed quite a few track days with the car in that time.”

    How reliable has your car been? Tell us about any issues.

    If you read the web, you would have cause to believe that the N54 engine and BMWs of this era are very unreliable. Some of this is partially true, however if you can wrench it isn’t so bad (also provides something to do).

    In my six years of ownership (albeit modified to around 280 rear wheel kW) the entire time, it has never left me stranded. The two times I had to take it into a specialist to repair was a broken window regulator and an air-conditioning compressor (a Toyota Denso part funnily enough).

    Keeping up the usual maintenance (including seals, coil plugs, spark plugs, vacuum lines etc) is vital. But all this is well documented on the web.

    What do you think of the ownership experience with your car?

    I’ve had a fantastic experience. There is no other car, bar a Tesla, that I have personally driven that delivers the low-down punch of a modified N54 engine.

    The only things I would change would be a proper LSD and new turbos (mine have the infamous wastegate rattle, but happily make 19psi all day long). The car turns on a dime, has great on-road composure (thanks to the ST-XTA/KW coilovers) and the short-shift BMW-performance manual gearbox is quite fun.

    Are you happy with the price and features of your car?

    The amount of performance that is available in a comfortable German car is hard to compare to anything else on the market (in a manual anyway). The Japanese cars always feel a bit more tinny (I own an ND Mx-5 as a daily also).

    Features on this are now getting old, but it does have xenons, GPS (very old iDrive which I turn off), electric seats, sunroof, and good air-con.

    What do you think of the performance and economy of your car?

    I have an on-board 0-100 device, the best I’ve got is 4.2s to 100 on RE003 tyres on normal road. I think faster is possible, but traction limited due to the e-LSD and tyres.

    Economy is also decent, with lifetime average of 10L/100km mainly in urban driving. I would easily get 7L/100km on highway stints.

    What do you think of the technology in your car?

    It’s 2007 iDrive. The best part is that the screen flips down, which is the first button I press after I start the car. Everything else I control from Bluetooth on my phone (which pairs faster than any other car I have been in, including the much new ND MX-5)

    What do you think of the ride comfort and handling of your car?

    Much improved over stock after the coil overs, M3 control arms and rear subframe bushings. The original stuff gets old now being a 13 year-old car and it was designed for firm run-flat tyres.

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    Overall Rating

    Ride & Handling7
    Price & Features8.4
    Performance & Economy8.6
    Ownership Experience8.6