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PERFORMANCE | 9 out of 10
Carves through corners like the world's most involving sports cars
Steering action is direct and the handling is precise
Road & Track
BMW estimates 30 mpg on the highway
The new 2008 BMW 1-Series easily lives up to BMW's sporty performance legacy, and the car moves very quickly, especially with the more powerful twin-turbo 3.0-liter engine found in the BMW 2008 135i variant.
Motivating the new BMW 1-Series is either a naturally aspirated 230-hp engine on the 128i models or a similarly sized, but twin-turbocharged, 306-hp 3.0-liter inline-six version on the 135i. With either trim, Edmunds finds that "a six-speed manual is the standard transmission, while a six-speed automatic with manual shift control is optional." While the engine on the 128i is decently powerful, it is asked to move a car that weighs upward of 3,500 pounds. However, despite its weight, Car and Driver finds the BMW 1-Series to be "pretty quick, taking an estimated 6.4 seconds for the 0-to-60-mph run equipped with the fluid six-speed manual." Also, it is worth noting that the Car and Driver reviewers were driving the BMW 2008 128i Convertible, which is significantly heavier than the 128i Coupe. For those looking for a serious performance machine, the 135i gets a twin-turbocharged engine that, according to some reviews read by TheCarConnection.com, moves the car to 60 mph in less than 5 seconds. Road & Track writes that the 135i "has amazing pulling power" and gives "new meaning to the term 'pocket rocket.'" Popular Mechanics notes that "the flip side of all that high performance is usually poor fuel economy. Not here: BMW estimates 30 mpg on the highway." The official EPA estimates for the 2008 BMW 1-Series are 18 mpg city and 28 mpg highway for the 128i, while the 135i returns 17 mpg city and 25 mpg highway.
Aside from the impressive engine performance, the 2008 BMW 1-Series also sports impressive handling, even in the 1-Series convertible. Popular Mechanics finds that, on the track, "the steering, typical of BMW, [is] sharp and quick to react." ConsumerGuide agrees, claiming that "BMW's legendary handling capability carries over to the 1-Series. Even BMW's 2008 128i convertible with the base suspension and 16-inch tires exhibits little body lean in fast turns." Edmunds continues the praise by saying that "body roll is minimal, and overall grip on models fitted with the sport package is superb." The brakes on all trim levels of the 2008 1-Series are also exceptional, and they hold up well under extreme conditions. Kelley Blue Book raves about the "huge front brakes that not only slow the small coupe with ease but also look great" on the 135i.
Ride quality on the BMW 2008 1-Series is a function of trim level and options, but there aren't really any surprises here. Customers should expect that the 135i in full sport mode will feature a rougher ride than the 128i with more comfortable settings. ConsumerGuide finds that "the tested 128i convertible [rides] surprisingly well, easily soaking up smaller road blemishes and pavement heaves." However, opting for the 135i brings a "sport suspension and 18-inch tires, a combination that reacts much more sharply to bad pavement, yet never feels harsh."
Small, nimble, and quick has been a formula for BMW success for generations, and the 2008 BMW 1-Series is simply the latest iteration of this tried-and-true system.