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BMW 135is: The fastest 1-series (pictures)

BMW gives its 1 Series the "s" treatment, raising the engine output, tightening the suspension, and giving it an excellent exhaust note.

Wayne Cunningham
Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET's Roadshow. Prior to the automotive beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine.
Wayne Cunningham
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1 of 12 Wayne Cunningham/CNET
BMW's 1 Series sits at the bottom of the model lineup, but it can be one of the best cars for the driving purist. For the new 135is model, BMW upgraded the engine software, giving it higher output, and made other performance modifications.
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The 135is is a small coupe, with only two doors but seating for four.
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The engine consistently wins awards. It is based on a 3-liter inline six-cylinder block, and uses direct injection and variable valve timing for fuel delivery. A twin-scroll turbocharger helps boost output.
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BMW made a questionable move in forgoing a limited-slip differential in favor of a rear-wheel braking program. However, the 135is handles excellently, so it does not seem there is any real loss.
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Despite the car's small size, the trunk seems big enough for a few suitcases, or a body.
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Sport seats are comfortable and well-bolstered. And, maybe against the purist sports car ethic, they are power-adjustable.
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The rear seats are not exactly spacious, but can serve for shorter trips.
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It doesn't feel like BMW tightened up the steering response for the 135is, but there is an Active Steering option available, which changes the steering ratio depending on driving conditions.
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The radio display serves to show phone and audio information on its minimal screen.
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The standard phone system integrates the contact list, showing it on the radio display.
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BMW includes a USB port standard, for plugging in thumbdrives and iOS devices.
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Underneath the current track label can be seen the various music library categories. BMW makes it possible to browse music on this small screen, but it is not an optimal solution.

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