There’s something about a hot hatch that undeniably brings out the boy-racer in any bloke who became a petrol-head at an early age but grew up in the city. The appeal of tearing about town at break-neck speed, cornering like Brabham in his prime and still being able to reverse-park the thing is an obvious drawcard, and something that made an overnight sensation out of cars like the Volkswagen Golf GTI, Honda Civic and Ford Focus.
This, however, is not a hot hatch. Not technically anyway. It may look like one, but when BMW designed the M140i they abandoned the logical method of tuning a four-cylinder engine to near-racing specs and sending the power to the front wheels, a tried and true formula for just about every other vehicle in its class, and decided that an inline six-cylinder engine and rear-wheel drive, while harder to engineer, would make for a much more fun time. And they were right.
The M140i has all the appointments you’d expect for a beemer that sits around the AU$65k mark, it’s luxurious and comfortable on the inside and not too flashy (though if you were after more carbon fibre and red stitching like a real boy-racer then you’re outta luck). The difference is in the drive, however – put your foot flat and the 3.0L engine takes you from 0-100 km/h in just 4.6 seconds with the automatic gearbox version. That’s really quick.
The other obvious difference is in the cornering – power to the rear wheels means more control and a lighter front-end, making it possible to really throw the thing around without that clunky feeling that goes along with a FWD vehicle.
Though the M140i might look like a well-behaved, sensible choice for the discerning gentleman-racer, it’s a miniature beast in tame clothing, and is worth the investment for a practical yet ultra-fun way to get around town in speed and style.