It’s hard to ignore a car, about Corolla size, with a bonnet crammed full of a beautiful six-cylinder turbocharged engine driving the rear wheels.
That is the BMW M140i and there’s nothing else like it.
The BMW M140i is a more relaxed version of the racetrack ready M2, but still a huge amount of fun.
It’s also about $25k cheaper, offers a bit more luxury, and while there’s not quite as much poke as there is in the M2, 250kW is nothing to be sneezed at – and the M140i actually offers more torque than the M2.
The test car came with a 6-Speed manual, available as a special order and I box I would definitely be checking. Yes, the brilliant 8 speed auto is faster and uses less fuel, but for my money the manual is a lot more fun.
The engine/transmission combination is an absolute cracker.
It fast, really fast. 0-100km/h is dispatched in a mere 4.8 seconds – the auto version is 0.2 seconds quicker again.
The engine loves to rev, it sounds great, and the gear changes are a delight.
The great thing about the M140i is it’s also rather docile, only revealing it’s mean streak when prodded.
It’s unlike most of the other hot hatches it competes with that all seem a bit manic in comparison.
The rear-wheel drive means no trick electronic drift modes are required.
It handles beautifully hunkering down into corners and changing direction with little evidence of body roll.
Sport mode makes the M140i really sharp while in Comfort mode around town it’s pliant and relaxed.
The 1 Series BMW has had some interesting looks over the years (remember the almost cross eyed one from a few years ago?), the current car though is the best looking yet, in fact it was a Sydney boy, Calvin Luk responsible for the design.
Inside the M140i it’s all BMW.
The driving position is excellent, you’ll find the familiar dash architecture, chunky steering wheel and premium finish you’d expect.
Icons replace lists of texts so it looks better, it’s really intuitive and easy to use, and it’s lightning fast.
There’s lots of standard kit in the range topping M140i. Harmon Kardon audio with digital radio, heated seats and keyless entry are all included.
Of course you can go nuts ticking boxes in the options list but you don’t really need to, everything required is already there, including the BMW Concierge Service that can help you find the nearest dumpling restaurant when you’re peckish.
The M140i’s headline act though is performance, and as the name suggests, the guys in BMW’s M division have had plenty of input.
Don’t confuse it with a proper M car like the M2 and M3 – vehicles that are fully ready for a racetrack.
Instead, think of it as an upgraded standard car.
The M Performance pack adds 18 inch wheels, adaptive M suspension and M Sport brakes, making it really quick and great fun to drive fast, but also really enjoyable to live with in town.
The aero pack and black chrome tailpipes give it a bit of meaner look than a standard 1 Series.
A beautiful 3.0 litre turbo charged inline 6-cylinder engine crammed into a 1450 kg hatchback makes it proper fun.
It’s a car that pampers you in a way a luxury car should while rewarding you with addictive performance. It’s an intoxicating recipe.
NUTS and BOLTS – 2016 BMW M140i
Engine: 3.0 litre turbocharged 6-Cylinder developing 250kW and 500Nm
Transmission: Six-speed manual
Safety: Five stars
Warranty: Three years
Price: from $64,900