Yes, the BMW M135i shown at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show was but a concept, but as we reported at the time, it closely foreshadowed a forthcoming production vehicle. Now that BMW’s unwrapped the finalized, production-ready version, we can see that’s true – though sadly, neither the standard 1 Series hatch nor the M135i will be making it across the pond any time soon.
Powering the range-topping M135i is BMW’s sweet 3.0-liter inline-six, with 320 hp being sent to the rear wheels through either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic. Differentiating the M-tuned model from lesser 1ers are M-specific suspension, aerodynamic body kit, unique interior trim, and, of course, the six-cylinder engine.
The M135i is the first car from BMW’s new M Performance Automobile line to use a gas engine as well; the others – notably the M550d, X5 M50d, and X6 M50d — all use turbocharged diesel engines. Similar to the three larger M-tuned cars, the M135i will also be available with xDrive all-wheel drive. For buyers who want more flexibility from their hot hatch, BMW will also offer the smallest M Performance car in both three- and five-door variants.
While we may not be seeing the hatchback M135i stateside any time soon, take a good hard look at the three-door model – it gives us a fairly solid look at what the next-generation of 1 Series coupe and convertible will look like. Both of those models will most definitely be ported to North American markets come 2014.
Officials are saying very little about those models, but we wouldn’t be surprised if the next 1 Series range is punctuated by with the 170-hp, turbocharged 1.6-liter I-4 used in the new 118i, and the 320-hp engine found in the M135i. There’s also a chance the turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4, used in the new 328i, 528i, and X3 xDrive28i models, could be added as a bridge between those two extremes.
We’ve heard no indication of such, but if BMW were interested in gunning down the next Audi A3 – which has found success here in the U.S. with its TDI diesel engine range – the European 120d’s 2.0-liter turbo-diesel I-4 could also potentially be added to the lineup as well.
Until those plans become concrete, you’ll have to simply pine over the M135i from abroad. In the meantime, BMW also released a video of two M135i three-doors playing a game of tag in a rain-soaked cargo dock, complete with plenty of the straight-six’s sweet exhaust note. Check it out below.