The new BMW 135i convertible offers the driving fun and performance of bigger
Bimmers but in a smaller, (slightly) less pricey package.
The BMW 135i convertible is a great starter model for singles and young couples eager to own a Bimmer. It’s powered by the same marvelous turbocharged engine found in the larger and more expensive BMW 335i, and it offers similar speed, agility and handling. We prefer the 135i convertible to the less expensive 128i, partly because it’s available with BMW’s fabulous seven-speed, dual-clutch automatic transmission for just $450 extra. That transmission makes the 135i dramatically quicker than the 128i, in which the automatic is an older and less efficient six-speed Steptronic. The BMW 1 Series, however, is noticeably smaller inside than the 3 Series, with less shoulder room and a very cramped rear seat.
Leatherette upholstery is standard in the 135i convertible, with Boston leather available in a $2,350 premium package. The cupholders seem jury-rigged into the small front-seat space. The cramped rear seat is mainly good for small children or cargo.
Under the hood are the same engines found in BMW’s vaunted 3 Series: a turbocharged, 3.0-liter, 300-horsepower inline six-cylinder engine in the 135i convertible, and a naturally aspired 230-hp version of that engine in the 128i.
A six-speed stick shift is standard. Optional in the 135i is a dual-clutch, seven-speed automatic ($450) with steering-wheel-mounted paddle shifters ($100). The automatic in the 128i is a six-speed Steptronic at no extra cost; paddle shifters, again, cost $100 extra.
BMW says the 135i convertible accelerates from zero to 60 in 5.4 seconds with a stick shift and 5.3 seconds with an automatic. For the 128i convertible, times are 7.0 seconds with the automatic and 6.4 seconds with the manual transmission.
The ragtop goes down or up in 22 seconds. Even with the top down, there’s 8 cu. ft. of trunk space, enough for two golf bags. A pass-through into the rear seats with a protective cargo bag is big enough to hold a third golf bag, or two snowboards.
The 135i convertible is rated to get 18 miles per gallon in the city and 28 mpg on the highway, 22 on average, with a stick shift, and 18/25/20 with an automatic. The 128i convertible is rated at 18/28/22 with a stick shift and 18/28/21 with an automatic.
The 2012 1 Series doesn’t yet have government crash-test ratings. The convertible, however, comes with pop-up rollover hoops and special head-protecting side airbags, as well as front bags and stability and traction control.
The 128i and 135i convertibles start at $37,475 and $44,675, respectively, with a stick shift. Prices are $47,325 and $53,525 for the larger 328i and 335i convertibles. The 135i convertible sells for an average of $49,066, according to the Power Information Network.