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Geneva show: BMW’s three-door M135i hot-hatch

Not quite an M1: Concept M135i previews next instalment of BMW’s new 1 Series range.

Three-door BMW 1 Series and first M Performance Automobiles petrol model emerges

24 Feb 2012

BMW has revealed a three-door derivative of its new 1 Series hatchback – as well as the first petrol-powered model to appear in the Bavarian marque’s new M Performance Automobiles sub-brand – in the shape of the Concept M135i.

Seen here for the first time ahead of its world debut at the Geneva motor show on March 6, the M135i concept effectively confirms BMW’s second-generation 1 Series five-door hatch range, released here last October, will again be joined by a three-door body style (the original 1 Series three-door was not sold in Australia).

The seemingly production-ready Concept M135i also represents the first petrol-engined member of the new BMW M Performance Automobiles range, which will also debut at Geneva in the form of the triple-turbo diesel X5 and (facelifted) X6 M550d super-SUVs.

Also premiering at Geneva from BMW will be the new-generation M6 Coupe and Convertible and the all-new 6 Series Gran Coupe sedan, all of which will go on sale in Australia this year – along with the ActiveHybrid 5, upgraded X1 and 7 Series models, the new 3 Series Touring and, possibly, the all-new 3 Series hybrid.

14 center imageThe M Performance Automobiles stable conveniently allows BMW to apply its hallowed M badge to the 1 Series without calling it an M1 – a nameplate deemed too sacred to be revived for anything less than a no-compromise super-sportscar, such as the type BMW’s M skunkworks is believed to be developing.

With the ballistic 1 Series M Coupe now out of production following its sellout success, the M135i production model would be a spiritual successor to the previous-generation 135i Sport hatch – with the added cachet value of an M badge.

The same M135i moniker could also be applied to the 1 Series hatch range, which currently opens at $36,900 for the 116i and extends to the 118i and 118d.

BMW’s rear-wheel drive Concept M135i press release is short on longer on spin than detail, but confirms the white-painted show car – adorned with red and blue M racing decals – is powered by an inline six-cylinder petrol engine that employs ‘M Performance Twin Power Turbo technology’ to produce more than 300hp (224kW).

Exactly what kind of forced induction configuration BMW means by ‘Twin Power’ these days is anyone’s guess, be we suspect the M135i concept shares the same 225kW/400Nm twin-scroll single-turbo 3.0-litre petrol six that was previously a twin-turbo six in a range of other 3, 5 and 7 Series models, as well as the Z4, X5 and X6.

M-specific kit fitted to the sleek new three-door 1 Series bodyshell includes a high-performance braking system, 18-inch double-spoke M light alloy wheels and an aggressive M sports bodykit with large front air intakes and twin rear dark-chromed exhaust outlets emerging from a Dark Shadow metallic coloured lower diffuser.

Adding a touch of class are the same Ferris Grey wing mirror caps and BMW Individual High Gloss Shadow Line side window surrounds as seen on other BMW Performance Automobiles models.

Appearing lower and longer than the 1 Series five-door, the M135’s two doors are longer and feature frameless windows, ahead of a fresh C-pillar design and more heavily flared rear quarter panels.

“The BMW Concept M135i offers attractive prospects for the further development of the BMW 1 Series model range,” said the Munich maker. “At the same time, a clear signal has been given for the expansion of the new product category of BMW M Performance automobiles.”

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