Ride and handling
With the Comfort driving mode selected the M140i rides exceptionally well while maintaining a respectable degree of control. There is some body roll but its natural without being excessive, and the car deals with undulating roads at moderate pace without any drama at all.
Sport and Sport+ don’t change the BMWs attitude dramatically, however each input you make has a more significant effect on the car. It’s most obviously felt on the exit of a corner where an application of the throttle really stimulates the rear axle and helps force the car around a corner.
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It isn’t until you push harder that the M140i starts struggling to cope with the demanding roads and more determined inputs that its M240i coupe brother simply takes on the chin. The M140i, although never truly flustered, feels heavier over the rear axle and it takes a fraction longer to regain composure after a severe crest. There is plenty of traction, but this slight lack of poise means you don’t have the confidence in the rear axle to really attack a road.
That said, it’s not like it won’t play the hooligan, should you wish. With the traction control fully deactivated, the M140i will slide around as you would expect from a 335bhp rear-wheel drive car. Be too clumsy with the steering and you can induce some understeer; there simply isn’t enough information communicated through the steering to allow you to nudge up to the front tyres’ limit. However, once they have lost grip you’re immediately made aware and, thanks to the amount of power and torque available, any understeer can be corrected with a prod of the throttle.
The M140i is without a limited slip differential as standard, but an optional LSD is available for £2520. So, although the chassis does its best to keep any resulting slide predictable, the lack of LSD can make regaining traction a little bit frantic. On wet tarmac, traction is limited and the car will easily spin its rear wheels. As the speeds are lower though, less is asked of the chassis and the M140i feels more predictable. With traction reduced, the lack of an LSD is less of an issue too and the transition back into grip is less abrupt.
Regardless, the M140i is an ideal fit for UK roads. Its compact dimensions mean the opportunities to exploit their attributes are plentiful, and only single-track roads feel too narrow. The significant amount of power and torque the new engine puts out means that it never feels out of its depth on wide, open roads either.