The BMW M140i is the baby M3 hot hatch for the masses.

I was sceptical at first when my friend said he was going to spend £30,000 on a hot hatch, never-mind a rear wheel driven one with a massive engine. However 3 years on the 140 has really grown on me. The 3 litre twin scroll turbocharged straight 6 delivers around 335bhp although many dyno at closer to 350bhp, this is good for a 0-60 sprint of 4.5 seconds. My friend has specced the M-performance exhaust and alcan wheel which really finish the car nicely, satisfying burbles and crackles from the exhaust on the overrun and a deep rumble as you hit boost will leave you grinning like an idiot. For a short car the M140 feels incredibly planted when compared to the likes of the M3 of the same era, there is literally no suggestion of oversteer from the chassis despite fairly heavy provocation in the dry, even in the wet the car feels immensely stable. Billy’s car has Bridgestone rubber all round and even though tread is down to around 4mm I’m really impressed at how well it grips in greasy and wet conditions.

The automatic gearbox is fantastic it’s so smooth yet quick when you ask it to be, it’s not as fast as a dual clutch system but the ZF8 performs admirably. I also love that you can use both the paddles and the gear selector itself to change gear manually, as variety is the spice of the life. The BMW has a lot of character compared to its rivals such as the golf R, it’s a powerful car yet refined and smooth with plenty of rear leg room, actually more than my GT-R which I admit isn’t hard. But for a medium sized hatchback it’s incredibly practical with a well sized boot for your shopping or the dog.

You’d think a 3litre 6 cylinder would be fairly expensive to run but in reality it’s somewhat frugal in its consumption of fuel. I’ve seen the 140i routinely passing 30mpg which with many short runs for shopping and the odd takeaway you have to admire. Would I pay £30,000 for one? Quite obviously not I bought a GT-R, but the second hand prices of a lightly used 140i nestling around the £15,000 mark mean even I’m seriously thinking of choosing one over the E92 M3 which says a lot. Now for the “enthusiasts” amongst us yes you can substantially up power with a Litchfield tune, offering around 435bhp from their stage 1 package. You can gain slightly more if you choose one of the exhaust offerings, but at £600 for 100bhp on paper has got to be a bargain right? I’ve absolutely no doubt a stock 140 chassis is more than capable of handling 450+bhp with relative ease however I would consider some drilled and grooved brake discs twinned with some meatier pads to dissipate heat more effectively and improve pedal feel.

The 140i wasn’t the best received BMW model however I feel it’s really grown into its role and bought some credible market share to the masses. Not everyone has £55,000 to indulge their “driving pleasure” with an M3 so the 140i especially remapped offers a massively competent alternative. I personally would opt for the manual gearbox just to bring a little more involvement to the experience. I’d also opt for a stage 1 remap and most likely a Remus exhaust as I feel these would offer me the best bang for my buck. I’m pleased the say I like 140i overall and I think they’re going to represent good value in the second hand market.

Published by Sam Busby

a big nosed bearded idiot who likes to write about cars. Lucky enough to have owned a few quick ones too.

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