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2008 BMW 128i/135i: First Photos of BMW’s Baby Coupe

In Europe, BMW dealers have offered a 1-Series variant since fall 2004. But BMW of North America took a pass on the hatchback, which first also offered only four-cylinder power. BMW of North America was wise to wait for the four-seat coupe given American tastes.


The wait is almost over. The new coupe is due for a formal reveal at the 2007 Frankfurt auto show, but photos of the 135i and initial details have been released. U.S. sales are set for spring 2008.

Well Powered and Well Equipped
The 1-Series looks to be a formidable competitor. Initial information says the car will offer lengthy standard and optional equipment lists, giving one the option of a small, stylish, sporting coupe with many of the luxury features available on larger and more expensive entries. Neither pricing nor a full complement of equipment and packages has been announced, but BMW has certainly given enough to whet the appetite.


A high price point could dampen enthusiasm, but BMW looks to have room to work. Their 325i coupe starts at about $36,000 and both the 335i coupe and 3.0si Z4 coupe start just below $42,000. Other premium small cars include Audi’s award-winning A3 and the Volvo C30, competition despite their hatchback shapes. The Audi’s base price range goes from nearly $27,000 to $36,000. Volvo’s top spec C30 carries an MSRP around $26,500, but Volvo doesn’t carry the premium of Audi or BMW. (Audi and Volvo pricing is 2008MY and BMW’s 2007MY, according to Kelley Blue Book.)
Moral of the story: The BMW 128i and 135i need a pricing ladder similar to that of the A3 to ensure they stay clear of the 3-Series coupe, which is available with the same engines.

Instead of metallic brushed-aluminum or chrome look for interior accents, the 1-Series offers galvanized pearl gloss elements throughout. The optional Sport seats, with higher bolsters, can be ordered with either the standard leatherette interior or optional Boston leather. Comfort and convenience options include iDrive (with six programmable memory keys) and navigation, Sirius satellite radio, HD radio, a standard auxiliary jack for MP3 players or optional USB port for iPods or iPhones. Among the missing items may be BMW’s keyless start/go system.
In terms of safety, there will be six standard airbags, Dynamic Stability Control and Dynamic Traction Control (tuned more aggressively on the 135i than the 128i), adaptive brake lights (LEDs with two stages of illumination based on how forcefully the driver applies the brakes), and Xenon cornering headlights optional for 128i and standard for 135i. BMW’s Active Steering will also be available.

The 1-Series gets gets short overhangs, a relatively long wheelbase, and a long hood. The decklid gets an integrated spoiler (though the 135i’s is not the same as the 128i’s) and there are horizontal brake lights. The 135i’s standard M Aerodynamic kit gives it a more aggressive look, with functional elements providing extra downforce, better brake cooling, and a cool look. The 135i gets a Sports Suspension with high-performance brakes, higher traction, and reduced body roll. Eighteens are standard for the 135i.
The package looks great on paper and the initial photos show an aggressive and sporty 135i. We’re looking forward to our first taste of these vehicles.

BMW Brings Significant Image to Small Cars
Long gone are the days of small car buyers being restricted to only weakly powered econoboxes. Standard econoboxes are continually being offered with more features and substance, but entries like Chrysler PT Cruiser, Volkswagen New Beetle, the new-century MINI Cooper, Scion xB, and Toyota Prius taught manufacturers that if there is something special about a small car, buyers will spend the extra dough to get it. Exactly what catches buyer’s imaginations is different for each of these examples, but all have proven worthy. These are more than a go-fast or accessorized halo trim level, like a Honda Civic Type S or Chevrolet Cobalt Supercharged SS, and bring something unique to a historically boring corner of the market.
At the same time, luxury makes are looking to make inroads in segments other than luxury sedans to continue to grow sales and remain contemporary. After expanding into SUVs, luxury makes began eyeing the lower end of the market and the results are arriving. Audi’s A3 (image here) arrived for 2006MY, this summer Volvo C30 (image here) reaches dealers, and next spring BMW gets in the game. These are stylish, fun, and premium products priced below their entry-level sedans. They incorporate the personalities that made the marques aspirational in the first place. BMW joins in with an edge, with its rear-wheel drive configuration, and with its coupe silhouette. Rear drive is a core element of any BMW; an entry BMW without it could hurt their image and an entry car with it is unique in this group.


  • justin| October 17, 2007 at 4:00 pm

    Whats the price of the 135i….. loaded…..?

  • James Zelenka| September 14, 2007 at 5:11 pm

    Very slick! I’ve been waiting for a small compact upscale car like this. It will be interesting to see how much of a premium they’ll try to squeeze out of these cars when they hit dealer lots! IF they can keep curb weight under 3,000 lbs. and base price under $26K they’ll surely have a winner and I may even have to trade in my beloved Infiniti G35.

  • Eric| August 1, 2007 at 8:40 pm

    One thing I can’t get a picture of is the size of this car. In the pictures it really doesn’t look any different from the 3 series coupe. What current model of car can we compare it to to get an idea of just how small it is?

  • Ray Iannuzzelli| July 16, 2007 at 3:09 pm

    The latest photos of the 135i look much better than the earlier spy-photos, although I have yet to see a 128i photo.

  • Brian Pasch| July 13, 2007 at 4:24 pm

    From what I read from the 128i and 135i should be in the market in Spring of 2008. I think the
    2008 BMW 128i
    will be a big hit since it will make an affordable entry point to own a BMW, under the 3 series. Also, with gas prices as high as they are, the timing is right for a more economical BMW.

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