German automakers seem to have two absolute rules: there is no such this as “too complex,” and Americans don’t buy hatchbacks. We can’t comment on the first point, but as for the second, well, that means we miss out on some of the best compact cars Germany has to offer.
Case in point? The BMW M135i, which BMW announced (for Europe only) earlier this year. The 320-horsepower hot hatch delivers an enticing blend of rear-wheel-drive performance and practicality, while looking (in our eyes, anyway) a bit less like a clown car than the oddly-proportioned 1-Series coupe.
Like it or not, the only M135i we’ll see will be in the form of the M235i, a (you guessed it) coupe variant that BMW is developing for the hatchback-hating American buyer. Until a new 1-Series M (or 2-Series M) graces our shores, the M235i will be BMW’s fastest compact coupe on this side of the Atlantic.
BMW isn’t the only German automaker to deny us hot hatchbacks. Audi’s RS3 is also forbidden fruit on these shores, though we’d warmly embrace its 335 horsepower and quattro all-wheel-drive. Instead, American buyers get only the performance-diluted A3, which loses its V-6 engine option as of 2013.
On paper, the Audi offers the benefits of AWD and an additional 15 horsepower, which should make it the better car around a track. It also gets the full Audi RS treatment, whereas the BMW only gets tuned by the M Division and even lacks a proper limited slip differential.
If we were the betting type, we’d agree with the esteemed Mr. Harris that the bench-racing nod goes to the Audi RS3; however, sometimes the whole is better than the sum of its parts. Can the Audi RS3 live up to the hype, or is the underdog BMW M135i the better choice? You’ll have to watch the video to find out.
Our own Antony Ingram recently drove the M135i, so for his take on BMW’s latest Euro-only hot hatch, check out our first drive impressions.