One of the most highly anticipated cars of the past few years is almost upon us. The BMW 1 Series Coupe (the supposed successor to the BMW 2002) had its first official press launch last week and first reviews have started to trickle in. While we hope to have our own review next spring, we thought these first thoughts on the car by the automotive press at large were clearly of interest to some MINI owners. So lets take a quick look at the three best out there so far and how they change (or don’t) our perceptions of the car. First up, (an Australian publication):

>What the 135i brings to BMW’s rich table that’s uniquely its own; is handling that befits a compact performance coupe, a species of which this is the only extant example.

>Electric power steering provides feel to complement the trademark combo of rear-wheel drive and almost 50/50 weight distribution.This coupe is decidedly more at home on a winding B-road than the track, where its still-hefty weight and tall gearing can hinder progress.

>That said, where the 135i succeeds brilliantly is in its performance and handling capabilities being so readily accessible while its demeanour remains extraordinarily forgiving.

>If the dynamic envelope is rigidly defined, there’s acres of room in which to roam before tearing point. Purists may sniff that the 135i isn’t all it could be: not as lithe, nor quite so focused. That misses the point, which is that it’s absolutely what BMW customers want.

[ BMW 135i: a winner on all fronts ]

One quick look at the 135i specs an you see author’s point. At around 3300lbs, the 135i seems a little… how should we say… flabby around the mid-section. And after passing plenty of 3400lbs M3s at my recent track-day, I can’t help but feel weight is enemy number one when it comes to track-day performance. Actually performance of any kind really.

Has all this dissuaded me from an unnatural desire to own one? That remains to be seen. Let’s take a look at what Car Magazine said about it in their recent preview review.

>Out on the road, the combination of that incredibly refined direct-injection powertrain, firm and well damped ride (a bit of a surprise given how stiff and unforgiving the ride is on most M Sport cars), hushed cabin and the 135’s overall air of sophistication makes it feel more like a mini grand tourer than a junior M3.

>But then unleash it on a track and it really bares its sharp teeth with brilliant front-end bite, a disciplined tail and a chassis that thrives on fast changes in direction. The surprisingly heavy steering looses its heft, allowing you to scythe the 135i through corners and that mighty engine seems to have an endless supply of neck-straining torque. So almost two cars for the price of one ugly one.

[ BMW 135i Coupe ] Car Magazine

So it would seem Car didn’t care for the looks but found it quite at home on the track. While the looks part is subjective (I actually like the design for what it’s worth), the mention of the track performance is interesting. It would seem Car didn’t seem to notice or care about the extra heft of the 135i. Or perhaps it was the twin-turbo that made them forget it?

Nevertheless let’s take a look at one more review, this time from MSN Cars (UK):

> The bite to small steering inputs, and the immediacy, is very impressive. This is particularly apparent on that circuit BMW laid on for us. DSC off, I had the confidence to get the tail dramatically out under power within two laps; it’s a playful but friendly machine, as precise as you wish, feeling every inch the oversteering ’70s saloon car but with all the sophistication you expect 30 extra years to bring. Fear not the ride, either, despite 18-inch runflats. It’s fittingly firm, given the M Sport sill kickplates, but the latest-generation Bridgestone runflats remove the harshness that afflicted past M Sport models. And, if it’s all goes awry, brakes? Specific to 135i, 6-pot anchors (with embossed grey callipers) are sharp but imposing.

>We went from being cool on the 1-Series Coupé, to seeing it transformed before our eyes on the road, to discovering it lives up to this promise from behind the wheel. Below £30k for the super-fast 135i – and £21k for the volume 120d (N/A in all markets)? Really, BMW admits it’s without direct rival. Even so, queues have got to be forming…

[ BMW 1-Series Coupé ] MSN Cars (UK)

It all starts to sound pretty convincing if it wasn’t for two things; it’s at least 500lbs heavier than an MCS and the base price will likely be at least $13k more.

But let’s hear your thoughts since we know the 135i has the interest of quite a few MF readers. Would you sell your MINI to get one? Would you leave MINI products and that famous MINI culture behind for a pair of turbos under a blue and white propeller?