The guys from Autocar recently bough a first-gen BMW M135i and decided to try and figure out just how much money they’d have to invest in it to make it capable of hanging with the brand new BMW M2 and other M cars. The idea is to figure out if there’s a clear answer to the question everyone has these days: should you buy a pre-owned vehicle and tune it or a brand new car altogether?

The BMW M135i was bought on the second-hand market and has been put through quite an enhancing process to maybe turn it into a proper M car. It had 30,000 miles on the clock when it was bought back in the summer of 2017 and is now a different car altogether. After replacing the suspension with Eibach springs tuned by the people over at Birds, a Quaife LSD was added to the mix, along with a shortshift kit and a modified clutch.

Last, but not least, the N55 engine under the hood received an engine tune taking the power levels up to 390 HP and 420 lb-ft of torque. The whole shebang added up to about £6,600 which add up to the £17,500 the guys spent on the car in the first place, for a total of over £24,000. By comparison, the BMW M2 they are comparing against here has a MSRP of £44,070 and comes with less power and torque.

In the end, the obvious things do make these two cars a bit different and in interesting ways. Whilst the M135i is the more powerful and faster car of the two, the M2 is still the one you want the most. It’s the real deal and it handles better, despite everything that went into the hatch. Sure, it’s more expensive and that’s going to be the most important thing in some people’s books but overall, if you can afford it, get it.