Rate It: The Rear-Wheel-Drive BMW Hatchback That America Never Got

For the United States, the 1 Series–replaced by the 2 Series back in 2013–may have only existed as a hardtop coupe or a convertible, but in other parts of the world, the 1 Series could be had as both a two-door and four-door hatchback, And unlike the most recent 2 Series models sold internationally, these hatchback versions featured rear-wheel drive and could even be had with a six-speed manual transmission.

A few different gasoline and diesel versions were offered over the model’s lifespan, but the hottest one would probably have to be the M140i. Power came from a B58 turbocharged inline-six engine that was good for 335 horsepower and 369 lb.-ft. of torque. That, coupled with a curb weight of roughly 3100 pounds, gave the M140i a reported zero-to-60 time of less than five seconds.

So, if the M140i was a rear-wheel-drive sporty hatchback that could be had with a real manual transmission, does that make it worthy of being called a hot hatch, or are there more worthy contenders on the market today?

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Comments
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MadScientistMatt
MadScientistMatt PowerDork
9/10/20 10:39 a.m.

It's a bit less awkward than the E36 Compact. What did the 2 door version look like?

Shaun
Shaun Dork
9/10/20 10:40 a.m.

My cup of tea.

adam525i (Forum Supporter)
adam525i (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
9/10/20 10:43 a.m.

That  hatchback has such better lines than the coupes we eventually got. They said there was no market for hatchbacks then based on 318ti sales a decade earlier but at the same time started introducing god awful 5 series GT things. 

idickers
idickers New Reader
9/10/20 11:05 a.m.

The 5-door 1 series with a manual transmission is my ideal car.  However, the dealer was not impressed or interested.

captainawesome
captainawesome HalfDork
9/10/20 11:10 a.m.

In reply to adam525i (Forum Supporter) :

Let's be honest about the TI though. It's either a love or hate category for most folks, clearly the latter. It doesn't look like a hatchback or wagon, it looks like someone cut part of the car away and glued it back.

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
9/10/20 11:31 a.m.

In reply to MadScientistMatt :

Something like this:

adam525i (Forum Supporter)
adam525i (Forum Supporter) HalfDork
9/10/20 11:35 a.m.

In reply to captainawesome :

Exactly, what does that car have to do with the 1 series hatchback (I do like the Ti though)? I think BMW was worried about the idea of having a base model hatchback again and what it would do for their image or brand. Meanwhile, Audi, Mercedes and Lexus have all brought out small hatchbacks since and they are probably a good way to get new customers into their products.

 

wspohn
wspohn Dork
9/10/20 11:48 a.m.

Not the first time BMW deprived North America of a nice hatchback touring car option. 2002 tii Touring

captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
captdownshift (Forum Supporter) UltimaDork
9/10/20 11:55 a.m.

The 5 door, while not as attractive as the 3 door, makes so much sense from a performance and utility compromise and standpoint. 

It'd make such a great rally platform. 

Jordan Rimpela (FS)
Jordan Rimpela (FS) Dork
9/10/20 1:35 p.m.
MadScientistMatt said:

It's a bit less awkward than the E36 Compact.

Or worse. The e46 we never got:

 

 

Vigo (Forum Supporter)
Vigo (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
9/10/20 1:49 p.m.

I feel like BMW just totally lost me somewhere in the mid-late 00's and i haven't been interested in owning and being personally responsible for a single thing from them since then.  Maybe a motorcycle that i just don't know about...

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
9/10/20 2:17 p.m.

In reply to Vigo (Forum Supporter) :

I get where you are coming from. I'd love to drive pretty much everything that BMW has been offering recently, but owning and maintaining a modern BMW? That's a whole different game.

fidelity101 (Forum Supporter)
fidelity101 (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
9/10/20 2:27 p.m.

In reply to Jordan Rimpela (FS) :

thank god we didn't

docwyte
docwyte UberDork
9/10/20 4:13 p.m.

After the E46 and E39 generations I'm just not interested

Vajingo
Vajingo New Reader
9/10/20 4:20 p.m.
Shaun said:

My cup of tea.

My can of red bull. 

Strike_Zero
Strike_Zero UltraDork
9/10/20 6:43 p.m.
docwyte said:

After the E46 and E39 generations I'm just not interested

I had similar thoughts until I drove a 2 aeries (F22). I bought 228i about a year ago and having a blast in it. I really reminds me of my old M3 (E36). Any problems with it in the next 40K miles it goes to the dealership.

Munchen Fan
Munchen Fan None
9/10/20 6:53 p.m.

The 2-door is not bad. But I have to say I am 100% pleased with my E88.

bluej (Forum Supporter)
bluej (Forum Supporter) UberDork
9/10/20 7:20 p.m.

4 door in the wild in NZ. I didn't know they existed until I happened upon this one, so I snapped a pic to remember to research later.

bgkast (Forum Supporter)
bgkast (Forum Supporter) PowerDork
9/10/20 8:15 p.m.

Love the 1 series hatch. I tired to rent one when we went to Germany about 10 years ago, but they gave me a Ford kuga, which was just a US Escape, instead. Disappointing

Jordan Rimpela (FS)
Jordan Rimpela (FS) Dork
9/10/20 9:01 p.m.
Colin Wood said:

In reply to Vigo (Forum Supporter) :

I get where you are coming from. I'd love to drive pretty much everything that BMW has been offering recently, but owning and maintaining a modern BMW? That's a whole different game.

I can't remember, Colin, but did you drive the X2 M35i we had while I was there? 
It was pretty well sorted for what it was, but I'd hate to be on the hook for its operating costs long term. 

cyow5
cyow5 New Reader
9/11/20 7:16 a.m.
bgkast (Forum Supporter) said:

Love the 1 series hatch. I tired to rent one when we went to Germany about 10 years ago, but they gave me a Ford kuga, which was just a US Escape, instead. Disappointing

Haha, I actually got one as a rental around that same timeframe (2012?). Closest thing in the US is the E91, so I picked one up this spring

Cedricn
Cedricn New Reader
9/11/20 7:41 a.m.

They are pretty common on tracks on this side of the pond. The 135i first gen 1 serie kind of kicked that of, ive seen diesel ones aswell :) 

shagles
shagles Reader
9/11/20 9:35 a.m.

I'd trade my 128 coupe for a hatch in a heartbeat

docwyte
docwyte UberDork
9/11/20 9:39 a.m.

In reply to Strike_Zero :

There's the problem.  I drove an M2 a few years ago and it was entertaining but I'd *never* own a modern BMW that wasn't under warranty.

MadScientistMatt
MadScientistMatt PowerDork
9/11/20 9:52 a.m.
Jordan Rimpela (FS) said:
MadScientistMatt said:

It's a bit less awkward than the E36 Compact.

Or worse. The e46 we never got:

 

 

I had to Google more pictures to make sure that was not some horrible body kit and Civic taillight swap. And the overall approach looks like it came out of the AMC playbook:

That 1-series 3 door, though, looks great. Apparently Chris Bangle was no longer channeling the spirit of Dick Teague when they got around to the 1 series.

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
9/11/20 9:56 a.m.

Our favorite orangutan opinion on the M135 wink

But back when these were new, the general consensus was BMW didn't think the US market would stomach such a small car for the price they would have to sell it for.  Plus, they had the MINI for that market.

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