BMW introduced the current 1 Series in May 2019, complete with an M135i sitting at the top of the range. The flagship went through some minor revisions in October 2021, but substantial changes are planned for next year. Although the pre-LCI model decked out with M Performance Parts is on display at the 2022 Essen Motor Show, the thoroughly revised hot hatch is undergoing testing around the Nürburgring.

Quad Pipes Coming

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What will the M135i LCI bring to the table? The most obvious change will be at the back where BMW plans to give its hottest 1er a quad exhaust system. Yes, like it or not, M Performance cars are getting four tips, thus mirroring the “45” models from Mercedes-AMG and the “S” cars from Audi. A closer look reveals the muffler is quite large, which perhaps is not all too surprising given the stricter emissions and noise regulations in Europe.

Beyond the more aggressive exhaust, the M135i facelift is hiding a fully redesigned front bumper. The square mesh suggests the air intakes will have a rectangular shape à la M2 G87, but we’re not entirely sure since the disguise might be there just to throw us off. Thankfully, we can already see there’s no unusually tall kidney grille and none of the split headlight shenanigans installed on the biggest BMWs.

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Riding on two-tone wheels, the prototype is likely powered by an updated B48 engine. According to a report that emerged earlier this year, BMW intends to update the 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine and extract 315 horsepower. The exact figure should be disclosed before the M135i LCI’s debut as the German luxury brand will likely introduce the X1 M35i first with the same engine.

The interior is not visible in this batch of spy shots, but we have it on good authority the M135i will transition to the Operating System 8. Logic tells us it’ll likely have the smaller displays already used for the X1 and 2 Series models where the digital instrument cluster measures 10.25 inches and the touchscreen has a 10.7-inch diagonal. The rotary knob of the iDrive along with the traditional controls for the climate settings could be eliminated.

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When the 1 Series LCI debuts in 2023, don’t expect to see the return of the M140i since the hatchback has not been engineered for six-cylinder engines. Consequently, a full-fat 1M or something to that effect is out of the question as well.

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