James W bought this BMW 1 Series in 2018 for $21,750 (including all on-road costs). James W. would buy this car again because: “It’s a great entry-level performance car. It’s a balanced drive with smooth power delivery, great handling and a great daily drive or weekend fun car.” There are plenty of amenities. This is a driver’s car set up for those who love driving.”
Buying a used BMW (10 years old when I bought) comes with the expectation of high servicing costs, especially the N54 engine which most people I meet have a love-hate relationship with. Love the performance, hate the maintenance cost.
Since purchasing it in early 2018 I have replaced the water pump, brakes, head gaskets, spark plugs and coil pack, suspension, and cleaned and re-fitted the VANOS solenoids and changed some other seals and fluids. . In all of them, only one failure instance and the rest came through 10,000km services or 12 months pretty reliable if you keep maintenance on top, dangerous if you don’t.
Thankfully, many of these mistakes are common and you can almost predict when they will occur. I checked that the high pressure fuel pump was replaced under warranty before purchasing as this was the most common fault.
I think this is a decent list by most standards. I am grateful for a thorough (independent) mechanic who knows his way around European cars and a colleague who picked up on these mistakes before they got too bad. Still, it has been expensive to maintain.
It was my daily drive for the first three and a half years of owning this car, now it’s mostly a weekend car. I honestly can’t remember a time where something seriously bugged me. It’s solid with no rattles or rattles when driving (chattering compartments drive me crazy) which reflects European build quality.
I rarely have more than one passenger so the rear seats are cramped or accessible is not an issue. 135 shows its age by not having a good place to put your phone or wallet. In fact, interior storage is minimal, aside from two small coffee cup holders.
The surprise packet was fitting my XL size mountain bike with the front wheel locked in the back with the seats down! I fondly remember driving my two-door, low-slung Beamer through an MTB carpark full of Land Cruisers, Prados, utes and SUVs of all kinds.
I met people who probably thought I was out for a drive in the hills and turned into the wrong car park. These soon turned into incredible looks as I dismounted my bike with a smile on my face and set off on my ride. I enjoyed the drive and the ride.
I probably paid more when I bought but am overall satisfied with the value for money.
The only option the original buyer ticked was the heated seats (my wife loves them), otherwise it’s stock. I still get electric adjustment of the seats with two memory slots for my wife and me.
Small touches in this car are satisfying. Like when you unlock the car at night, the door handle lights come on, or when you reverse the car, the left mirror dips so you can see where your rear right wheel is to avoid scraping the curb. can be saved
So I bought the car. Performance and driving dynamics never disappoint. The height and feedback through the steering wheel makes you feel connected to the car in every way. The twin-scroll turbo on the 3.0L inline-six delivers great torque low in the rev range.
When you get to the 3500rpm point you wonder if the car will keep pulling, then you feel the big turbo kick and you keep on going towards the redline. BMW’s engineers did well to make it feel very close to the naturally aspirated engine.
Many people have tuned the N54 engine but so far I haven’t tuned it and run the JB4 plug-in due to occasional engine misfires and strange power delivery that throws the car off balance. It’s really that balanced. Perfectly set up for heel-to-braking with a crisp gearbox (yes, I got a manual and I love it) this car is a joy to drive!
I trust a few colleagues to drive my car. One has his own 135, the other a ute that I borrow to move stuff around…neither of them have ever been disappointed with being behind the wheel of their own vehicle.
Regarding fuel economy, I didn’t buy this car for economy but I think 10L/100km is fine.
A Bluetooth phone connection is a must for me and it equates to good call quality. There’s a USB port but no Android Auto or Apple CarPlay. A magnetic mount on the dash and voice commands work for phone operation, but the car’s age shows in its lack of connectivity.
While I didn’t buy the car for the tech, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the sound system is a good thing! Now the biggest disappointment is the aging audio system whose buttons get a bit stiff and the display fades after getting above 20⁰C (which happens all the time in Australia).
I bought a replacement from eBay only to discover that it didn’t have quite the same connection points so couldn’t connect the microphone chip for bluetooth calls.
Before I replaced the suspension, the car handled great, now it’s great. It’s also comfortable for a daily drive. I thought I was a good driver until I got this car.
I soon learned after some experience and guidance from a good mate that this little Beemer wants you to go faster and faster around corners. The RWD architecture lends itself to fun handling although I haven’t gone further than a few spirited drives through winding roads in the hills and I don’t dare turn off the traction control.
Suffice it to say that heel-to-brake and downshifting in a turn is one of the most satisfying and rewarding driving experiences of my life. I love it and it’s addicting. This vehicle is designed for winding roads.
I bought this car as a man. I am married now and my wife also likes to drive. I’ll keep it as long as I can but suspect once the kids come on the scene I’ll need to find something with more accessibility in the second row. I’m thinking maybe a hot hatch?
Let me know what you think and if you own a 135i your experience with it and/or any preventative maintenance I need to know!