Though a replacement is due in the coming year, the 2013 BMW 1 Series is still one of our favorite entry-level luxury sports cars on the market today. Even the demise of the highly-regarded 1-Series M Coupe hasn’t dampened our enthusiasm, since BMW has followed up with a sharper-edged 135is model meant to (temporarily) fill the void.
While last year’s 1-Series M came in Coupe form only, the 2013 135is can be ordered in Coupe or Convertible form, as can the other 128i and 135i models in the lineup. Under the hood of the 135is is a more potent version of BMW’s turbocharged in-line six, now rated at 320 horsepower and aided by a sport-tuned stability control system, a sport suspension and 18-inch wheels.
Other 1-Series models share similar styling, regardless of whether a 128i or 135i badge adorns their trunk lids. We like the car’s well-proportioned exterior styling, which somehow manages to be distinctive yet familiar to the rest of the BMW lineup at the same time. Inside, base models can be on the Spartan side, and there’s more black plastic than you’d expect in a car at this price point. You can easily amend that by checking boxes on the order form - for a price.
The BMW 1-Series likely isn’t the most practical car you’ll shop, either, but it does offer up advantages over more traditional sports cars. It’s a great daily driver, for one, something that can’t always be said of a two-seat, stiffly sprung sport coupe or roadster. That’s not to say the back seat of the 1-Series is comfortable for adult passengers, but we doubt children will complain about the accommodations, and it is convenient for carrying things when the quasi-generous trunk is full.
Opt for the 128i, and you’ll get a normally-aspirated in-line six good for 230 horsepower and 200 pound feet of torque, mated to the buyer’s choice of a six-speed manual or a six-speed automatic transmission. If that’s not enough, stepping up to the twin-scroll turbocharger equipped 135i gets you 300 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque, while the gearbox options are a six-speed manual or a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic.
Either option delivers impressive handling without a punishingly stiff ride, striking a near-ideal balance between fun and functionality. We’d still opt for the highest-performance 135is if we had that much in our budget, but some will find the car’s stiffer suspension to be too much of a compromise for a daily driver.
None of the 2013 BMW 1-Series models have been crash tested under the revised IIHS or NHTSA programs, but each comes with front, side and side-curtain airbags as standard equipment. Other included (and now mandated) safety features include electronic stability control, anti-lock brakes, traction control and a tire pressure monitoring system.
Standard features across the 1-Series range include Bluetooth phone connectivity, keyless entry, cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, steering wheel-mounted audio controls, power windows and power door locks. Major options include such things as BMW’s iDrive infotainment system, leather upholstery, wood trim, parking sensors and heated seats, but buyer beware: piling the options can quickly raise the price to a point where other competitors look like a more viable option.
For complete details on the 2013 BMW 1-Series models, see our comprehensive review on The Car Connection