With the Volkswagen Golf R and Audi S3 now out while Mercedes-AMG is putting the finishing touches on an updated A35, BMW is responding with several revisions for its own compact hot hatch. The 1 Series is sadly still not worthy of the full-fat M treatment, but the next best thing, the M135i xDrive, gets a series of mechanical tweaks after less than three years on the market.
Bear in mind this isn't a mid-cycle update, pompously called Life Cycle Impulse (LCI) in BMW's vocabulary, but rather a subtle evolution of the range-topping 1er. Recalibrated springs and dampers improve roll behaviour while the feisty hatch is being pushed hard through the corners. The engineers have also fine-tuned the mounts for the trailing and control arms at the rear axle. The front axle boasts a new hydromount used to attach the front suspension wishbones, while the camber values have been increased to better absorb later forces during cornering.
Gallery: 2022 BMW M135i xDrive
The M135i xDrive retains its mechanical limited-slip differential built into the eight-speed automatic transmission, and the same thing can be said about the turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine. The four-pot continues to deliver 302 bhp (225 kilowatts) and 450 Newton-metres (332 pound-feet) of torque sent to all four wheels. Speaking of which, BMW’s smallest performance car rides as standard on 18-inch alloys, with the option for a larger 19-inch set.
And now we get to the controversial part of the update. BMW has made changes to the artificial engine sound pumped through the speakers in the cabin. The Bavarians say the noise channelled inside has been "carefully amplified," although most enthusiasts will probably agree this "feature" needs to be removed altogether.
With BMW now offering Individual paints for the regular 1 Series, it makes sense for the M135i xDrive to also get a splash of fancy colour. Shown here is an example finished in the non-metallic Sao Paulo Yellow shade, but new shades such as Frozen Pure Grey and Frozen Orange are also available.