Audi S3 Sportback 2014 review
Peter Anderson road tests and reviews the Audi S3 Sportback, with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.
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There are BMW M cars and now, there are other M cars from BMW, not quite as hard-edge but still with the characteristics to qualify as a seriously sporty drive, oh, and much more affordable.
The new M135i is a case in point. It's pitched about half way between a garden variety BMW and a fully blown M car such as the M3 but for the six-speed manual it costs a much more accessible $68,400....half what you'll pay for the M3. Eight-speed auto is an extra $4,000.
But it isn't half the car - by any stretch of the imagination, more like 80 per cent in outright performance and handling terms. BMW leverages the M brand in M135i with a smattering of go fast bits and the rest from the regular parts inventory.
Inside gets a good amount of luxury kit like premium audio, voice control, multi media connectivity, Bluetooth audio and phone, leather sports seats while the exterior has a body aero pack, LED daytime running lights, bi-xenon headlights with auto high beam and blacked out body hardware.
When you take parts from there, you have a really high baseline and that's why the M135i is such a crackin' good thing to drive. The engine for example sees duty in a range of other models including the 335i, the 535i, the X5, the Z4 and others.
It's a single twin-scroll turbo six cylinder petrol unit with fully variable valve adjustment in Valvetronic and double Vanos as well as direct injection. BMW calls it Twin Power in reference to the dual boost effect of the twin scroll turbo. They used to have two individual turbos. The 3.0-litre engine is good for 235kW/450Nm output from just 1250rpm _ in a car the size of a Toyota Corolla.
It's a bit of a sleeper in the looks department but presents a more appealing face than the regular 1-Series.
Needless to say, it pays attention to the right foot like few other small cars. Lucky drive goes to the rear wheels because that much grunt through the front would be a challenge. The eight-speed automatic we drove is a conventional torque converter unit but changes like a dual-clutch system.
The powertrain can propel this compact five door hatch from 0-100kmh in better than 5.0 seconds while sipping fuel at an average of 7.5-litres/100km. It is truly amazing engine performance on a number of fronts and sounds unreal, then you point it at a series of corners and it moves up a notch.
The M Sport-specific suspension rides 10mm lower than a standard model and features adjustable sports dampers. The steering is likewise upgraded with variable gearing with different response at low, intermediate and high speeds. You can see and feel the effect even at parking speeds or turning around. Even the brakes are upgraded with large rotors and multi piston callipers from the M-Sport division. Wheels are 18-inch with Michelin Pilot low profile tyres.
We were treated to a good long drive in the M135i in a number of driving environments, in all of which the car excelled. It's particularly handy on a winding mountain road but is also comfy and safe on the freeway. Around town, the eight speed auto comes into its own but when you're in sports mode, it flicks through the gears rapidly with small increments between each cog. There's even auto stop start and EcoPro drive mode to maximise fuel efficiency in the city.
We are not fans of the look but the car itself is fabulous to drive. It's engaging, forgiving and satisfying to drive, even down to the shops. Just needs to be less of a Q-ship _ a tad more overt would be good so people know what you are driving and how discerning you are.
Price: from $68,400
Warranty: 3 years
Safety rating: 5-star ANCAP
Engine: 3.0-litre 6-cylinder, 235kW/450Nm
Transmission: 6-speed manual; RWD
Body: 4340mm (L); 1765mm (w); 1411mm (h)
Thirst: 8.0L/100km 188g/km CO2
|135i||3.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$26,800 – 35,530||2012 BMW 1 Series 2012 135i Pricing and Specs|
|1M||3.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$32,300 – 42,350||2012 BMW 1 Series 2012 1M Pricing and Specs|
|135i Sport||3.0L, PULP, 7 SP AUTO||$19,700 – 27,390||2012 BMW 1 Series 2012 135i Sport Pricing and Specs|
|M135i||3.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$14,700 – 20,680||2012 BMW 1 Series 2012 M135i Pricing and Specs|