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Journeys : Dec10 Jan11
December 2010 / January 2011 45 Best Sports Car under $80k BMW 1 Series 135i Coupe $72,800 Drivetrain 3.0L, 6cyl, 6spd man Fuel economy 9.2L/100km, PULP Safety Features: DFSA, HAB, ABS, TCS, ESC ANCAP N/A GVG ★★★★ It was all happening in the Spor ts Under $80,000 categor y in 2010. For a start, Volkswagen released a hot hatch trilogy – its much-anticipated replacement for the R 32 (Golf R), a turbo diesel (GTD) and a Generation VI of the highly-acclaimed GTI. Audi chimed in with a 2.0 TDi Quattro TT, and Subaru revamped its legendary Impreza WRX and STi offerings. French car makers all came to the performance party, too, with Renault stumping up the latest iterations of the Megane Sport and Clio Sport 200, and Peugeot rolling out arguably the best-looking example to car ry the rampant lion badge in many a year, the RCZ. But, as if to script, the BMW 1 Series 135i Coupe resisted all challenges to take the category title for the third consecutive year. It might not look like a sports car in the traditional sense of being a low-slung, strictly two-seater with soft top but, make no mistake, the 135i Coupe fits the bill in every other way. In fact, so complete is the 135i in the areas of Design and Function and On the Road (class leader in both), that it manages to overcome a considerable deficit in vital Value for Money stakes, normally the kiss of death for any vehicle that scores poorly in this critical objective area. Providing the ‘motorvation’ is a 225kW twin-turbo, direct- injection, 3.0 -litre straight-six, a dynamic power plant that has won its share of international design awards. Little wonder – this is an engine for any occasion, eager to send the tachometer needle racing to red line, or (thanks to a broad spread of torque between 1300 and 5000rpm), impress with its mid-range muscle. The six- speed manual gearshift is rifle-bolt precise, although the optional six-speed sequential (paddle) shift auto is even quicker. On the high altitude serpentine roads of the Snowy Mountains, the 135i won plenty of friends with its ability to dispatch all challenges. We all agreed that its big brother, the awesome M3 (twice the pr ice), could not have proved any more competent at this place and time. Triple Australia’s Best Cars awards later, the 135i remains just as convincing. Best Sports Car over $80k BMW, M3, $158,300 Driveline: 4.0 litre; V8 cyl; 6 speed; manual transmission Fuel economy: 12.4 L/100km; PULP Safety Features: DFSA, HAB, ABS, TCS, ESC ANCAP: ★★★★★ GVG: ★★★ BMW’s iconic M3 sports coupe has once again muscled its way to the top of a tightly-packed field representing the very best of the prestige sports car market. German manufacturers continue to dominate this category with the likes of Porsche, Audi, Mercedes and BMW seemingly more skilled at building high perfor mance machines that are equally comfortable for an elegant night out or unfazed by a quiet run to the shops. When it comes to performance, the advantage of the M3 is the spread of flexibility that can be dialled into the car via the M-Drive, so that steering forces, damper settings and traction or stability control can be adjusted. There are three different settings allowing a sports or track-day set up, a highly-controlled but more forgiving r ide for tar mac style rallies and a normal setting for the daily drive. Power in the M3 comes from an award-w inning, over-square, and high-revving 4.0 litre V8 engine, machined from the ver y best materials. It bristles with advanced technologies including variable valve timing on both inlet and exhaust along with individual electronically controlled throttle butterf lies. The result is an engine that gives its best across a wide rev range and delivers it w ith the glor ious backing of a Grand Pr ix sound track. A peak of 309kW is released at 8300 rpm while 400Nm of torque comes in at 3900 rpm and when fed through the six-speed manual transmission the performance delivery is not only breathtaking, but is as easy to achieve as driving your average Japanese sedan. Just don’t expect comparable fuel economy. The M3 cabin possesses all the elegance and style of other prestige BMW offerings, w ith durable leather trim, fine instr umentation and switches but with just the slightest edge in seat bolstering for additional lateral support and a little more tactile feel on the controls. In addition to all the primary safety features under the sun, the M3 also spor ts a full complement of occupant protection devices and scores a full five star ANCAP rating.
Oct Nov 2010
Feb March 2011