The 2019 Bmw M140 continues to offer top safety scores, remarkable space inside, and all-round versatility; it’s still one of the best small SUVs, and a good value for money.
How times change. Where once an output north of 300bhp was reserved for only the most serious of performance cars, now it’s the bare minimum a hatchback needs to be considered ‘hot’. Indeed, the BMW M140i wades into battle with an eyebrow-raising 335bhp.
Unlike rivals such as the Ford Focus RS and Volkswagen Golf R, the M140i doesn’t rely on fancy-pants four-wheel drive. Instead, it channels everything its 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder engine can muster to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual or an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
Although it can’t match the Audi RS3 and Mercedes-AMG A45 for brute horsepower, the M140i has its own charm that makes it a very appealing everyday performance car. To find out what that is, stay with us over the next few pages for our detailed review.
Although the M140i’s 3.0-litre straight-six engine is turbocharged, there’s very little turbo lag, meaning accelerator response is usefully snappy. The engine pulls eagerly from around 2000rpm but really opens up in the mid-range and revs freely towards its 7000rpm redline. There’s a lovely, old-school howl from the engine that gets more intense as revs rise, as well as a seductive crackle from the exhaust when you lift off the accelerator.
Traction is good in the dry and, once rolling, the M140i will leave similarly priced rivals, including the Ford Focus RS and Honda Civic Type R, for dust. In our tests, the automatic version managed the 0-60mph sprint in just 4.5sec. However, the car does struggle to get off the line in wet weather; four-wheel-drive rivals such as the Focus RS are more composed and capable in the rain.
Opt for the standard six-speed manual gearbox and you’ll pay slightly less for your M140i, but the shift is a bit notchy so doesn’t provide the driver reward you might expect. We reckon the eight-speed auto is well worth the extra.
The steering is on the light side – even in Sport and Sport+ modes – and doesn’t provide a huge amount of feedback. The M140i can’t beat the stiffer, more hardcore Focus RS and Civic Type R through corners, either, but it’s hardly a wallowy barge. In fact, it’s thoroughly entertaining to thread along your favourite B-road.
It’s well worth stumping up the relatively small premium for adaptive dampers. Without these, the M140i doesn’t ride anywhere near as smoothly as the Civic Type R. More positively, the M140i is a far more peaceful cruising companion than most of its rivals, even if there’s a bit too much wind noise on the motorway.
The best value in 2019 Bmw M140 is a base model with manual gearbox, but it’s still decently priced after adding fancy audio, leather, and a moonroof.