Long-term intro: Omar’s 2013 BMW M135i in Qatar
The BMW 1-Series has always been an acquired taste ever since it launched in 2004. Even if the looks don’t bother you, there is still the price, as it costs more than a Golf without necessarily offering that much more (at least in the basic models). That said, if you look past the basic models, the top-of-the-range 1-Series have always been interesting cars, combining arguably BMW’s best straight-6 engines with an entertaining chassis, and probably more closely evoking the spirit of BMWs from decades ago than their larger brethren in the current model lineup.
I owned a 2007 130i M Sport in London just before I came out to Qatar and I loved that car. It was good looking (in my opinion), fast, sounded fantastic with that creamy straight six, and despite its dynamic flaws it was always interesting to drive. Unfortunately I had to sell the car after just 18 months because of my move to Qatar so the first thing I did when I landed in 2010 was head over to the BMW dealer to buy a 130i, only to be told they didn’t import it to Qatar — forcing me to reluctantly “settle” for a VW Scirocco instead.
In 2012, BMW released the M135i. I knew that this was going to be an even more impressive car than its predecessor so I rushed over to the BMW dealer and asked when I could order this car. The salesman gave me a blank look and said he didn’t think it would be available in Qatar. At this point I was ready to face reality and give up but a friend suggested I try getting in touch with the lady at the Al-Fardaan dealership who sells Minis. Even though she works on the Mini side, she could also order BMWs, and more to the point, she was extremely enthusiastic and competent in comparison to her lacklustre colleagues on the BMW side of the showroom. At this point I was pretty sceptical so I took my time calling her. When I did eventually speak to her, she was also unsure about availability in Qatar, but said she would look into it and get back to me. To my surprise, I got a call from her a few weeks later asking if I could come in to spec up a car so that they could place an order for me. Grabbing my cheque book and a print-out from the BMW UK online car-configurator, I ran to the dealer as quickly as possible. We quickly agreed a spec that I was happy with, but something you might not know is that when you order a car in the Middle East, you don’t know the final price until the car actually arrives in country, since it depends on exchange rates at the time. Disturbing, to say the least. They did give me a possible price range, the low end of which was reasonable but the high end of which was a little alarming. Having never ordered a car without knowing the price, I couldn’t help but stress a little but despite all this, I was firmly in the grip of “new car fever” so, of course, I signed on the dotted line.
The spec I went for in the end was 8 Speed Automatic, Estoril Blue Metallic Paint, Coral Red Leather, Adaptive Suspension, Harmon Kardon Stereo, Comfort Access, Light Pack (Xenons, Auto headlights and wipers, Turning headlights, Dimming mirror), Cruise Control, PDC Front & Rear and Enhanced Bluetooth connectivity, as written on the sheet.
Nothing too extravagant. Key omissions from the spec list were electric seats, sat nav and bigger wheels. As much as I would have loved 20-inch wheels, I figured they would compromise the ride too much. In addition, I didn’t opt for run flats and went instead for the amazing Michelin Pilot SuperSports that come as standard because, from the reviews, they form a key part of the car’s character. One minor mistake with the spec is that I wasn’t told that automatic climate control isn’t standard in the GCC so I ended up with the “basic” a/c system. It doesn’t bother me from a functionality point of view (I think climate control is pointless here since 80% of the time you want as much cold air as possible) but does concern me a little bit from a resale point of view.
The price for all this Bavarian magnificence? A “mere” QAR 210,000. Gulp. Incidently, this price was at the low end of the range I was quoted when ordering. On the plus side, this does include a 5-year warranty and service pack, but it is pretty hard to argue it represents good value for money. I’ll come back to this point in a later report.
I ordered the car at the end of February and was initially told delivery would be in August — 6 months. In the end however, the car was manufactured in May and delivered in June so the wait turned out to be just 4 months, which is pretty reasonably considering how popular this model is, at least in Europe.
Costs so far have been QAR 260 for dealer-programming to disable the Stop-Start system by default, and QAR 715 for an optional oil & filter change, since I don’t believe in the recommended 15000km/18-month oil changes.
Next time I’ll discuss the controversial topic of the looks (as well as the less contentious topic of the interior).
Original Mileage When Bought: 70 km
Latest Mileage To Date: 5,100 km
Latest Average Fuel Economy: 14.6 litres/100 km
Cost of Latest Problems: QAR 0
Cost of Latest Maintenance: QAR 975
Total Non-Fuel Running Cost Since Bought: QAR 975