BimmerFile Review: The BMW 135is

2013 bmw 135i specs

More than five years ago, we reviewed the 2008 BMW 135i on our site, and it was a significant moment for BMW enthusiasts. The 135i represented a return to the simple formula that made BMW famous with the 2002, and it quickly became a favorite among car enthusiasts. In fact, we loved it so much that one of our writers ended up owning a 1M, which was inspired by the 135i. With the production of the 135i ending, we wanted to take one last look at this beloved car and see how it fares as a second or third-hand enthusiast’s car.

First Impressions

Let’s go back to the beginning and revisit our first impressions of the 135i. It was a watershed moment for BMW enthusiasts who were seeking a basic, high-power, rear-wheel-drive formula. The 135i received a lot of love from both the comments section and the internet at large. However, it wasn’t without its flaws. Body control and understeer were persistent problems, but despite that, the 135i held a special place in the hearts of many, including our writer who owned a 1M.

Introducing the BMW 135is

Now, let’s dive into the main event: the BMW 135is. This variant of the 135i is equipped with several enhancements that make it even more enticing. With an increase in peak horsepower to 320 hp and an increase in torque to 317 lb-ft, thanks to the BMW Performance engine kit, the 135is packs a punch. It also features the BMW Performance Exhaust, exclusive and attractive wheels, unique interior seat stitching, floor mats, and a distinctive badge. These upgrades come at an additional cost of $3,950, bringing the base price of the 135is to $44,175.

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A Worthy Contender

Some may find the price tag of the 135is a bit steep compared to the 1M, but when you consider the rarity and the skyrocketing values of the 1M, the 135is starts to make more sense. Furthermore, the 135is offers the option of a fantastic 7-speed DCT, which the 1M did not have. For those who prefer an automatic transmission, the 135is represents the pinnacle of the E82 range.

Our test car was a perfectly specced enthusiast’s dream, featuring a manual transmission, no navigation, and only a few extras like the luxury pack, heated seats, and LeMans blue paint. Walking around and getting inside the 135is brought back a flood of memories from the first drive in northern California. The compact and distinctive design of the E82, combined with its two doors, four seats, and rear-wheel drive, captured the essence of what makes a BMW truly special.

Performance and Handling

While the 135is has its strengths, it’s important to address its limitations compared to the 1M. Stepping out of the 1M and into the 135is, our writer immediately noticed slightly heavier steering at low speeds, different interior touchpoints, and a slower rev-building process in the 135is. The power delivery in the 135is is more linear and relaxed, designed to cater to a broader range of drivers. In terms of handling, the 135is performs admirably in corners until you reach the limit. At that point, understeer becomes a significant issue. Despite its slightly higher weight, the 135is lacks the precision and control of the 1M. Getting the tail out and experiencing that exhilarating drift requires more effort in the 135is.

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The 135is on Its Own Merits

Comparing the 135is to the 1M can be frustrating and unfair. The 1M is a special car with a legendary status, while the 135is offers a more attainable, customizable, and daily-drivable experience. In terms of sound, the 135is comes out on top, thanks to its fantastic M Performance exhaust. The 135is also boasts a refined and restrained look, offering a compelling alternative to the aggressive styling of the 1M. Inside, there are more options available, such as a sunroof and a variety of colors. The 135is strikes a balance between power and comfort, making it a pleasant driving experience for daily commutes.

The Verdict

The BMW 135is may not match the legendary status of the 1M, but that doesn’t diminish its appeal. With its robust performance, attractive options, and enjoyable driving dynamics, the 135is aims to be the perfect all-around car for BMW enthusiasts. While it may not achieve perfection, it comes remarkably close. The 135is is a car that can be cherished by everyday drivers and BMW enthusiasts alike.


Q: How much does the BMW 135is cost?
A: The base price of the BMW 135is is $44,175, with an additional $3,950 for the BMW Performance enhancements.

Q: Is the BMW 135is available with an automatic transmission?
A: Yes, the BMW 135is can be ordered with an automatic transmission, offering a more relaxed driving experience for those who prefer it.

Q: How does the BMW 135is compare to the BMW 1M?
A: While the BMW 135is shares some similarities with the 1M, it is not a direct comparison. The 1M is a rare and highly sought-after car, known for its exceptional performance and limited production. The 135is offers a more attainable and customizable driving experience, making it a compelling alternative for BMW enthusiasts.

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The BMW 135is may not reach the same heights as the revered 1M, but it shines in its own right. With its refined design, improved performance, and daily drivability, the 135is caters to the BMW enthusiast who craves a more accessible and versatile driving experience. While it may not be perfect, it excels at being a well-rounded and enjoyable car for both daily commutes and spirited drives. Experience the thrill of the BMW 135is, and discover why it has earned a special place among enthusiasts.