spent any time in the gayborhood in the last 10 years, you
know that the BMW 3-series is the unofficial gay car.
Available as a coupe, sedan, convertible, or supercar,
the cheapest BMW satisfied a myriad of tastes among
the LGBT elite.
But just as the
decade turned us from twinks to daddies, the 3-series has
grown thicker around the middle and developed an expensive
taste (the 2008 M3 costs around $60,000). So it seems
high time for the venerable 3-series to pass the
everyman's BMW moniker to the next generation. Enter
the upstart 1-series, which shows up in six-cylinder 128i
form or as a twin turbo-six 135i; both are
available as a smart coupe or a sexed-up convertible.
With the same engines as the 3-series but housed in lighter,
nimbler bodies, the 1-series reminds us that driving a BMW
in its purest sense should be fast, fun, and free.
After a day with
both the coupe and the convertible in Monterey, Calif.,
the topless version won our hearts, minds, and pants. It
just feels right from the driver's seat up. The
1-series is the natural bodybuilder. While not exactly
pretty -- from the side it can look a little flat --
it's a little more light and direct in steering
and handling than the muscled-up 3-series. And
it's that agility that gives the 1-Series that
essential BMW feel -- kind of the brand's
Chanel No. 5, recaptured.
230-horsepower six-cylinder sounds mechanically ecstatic,
and nothing beats top-down motoring in such a well-crafted
vehicle. Opt for the 300-horse turbo six and
you're almost overdoing it -- you can price a
135i convertible over a standard 335i.
One caveat: While
both versions are billed as a four-seater, only the
coupe may be able to handle the occasional adult in the
rear. The convertible's tight quarters in the
back limits comfortable entry for anyone of average
size or larger; save the backseat for your overnight
bags. And opt for the leather seats -- vinyl heats up too
BMW snuck the
1-series in under $40,000, even with the dollar rapidly
approaching peso valuations. The 128i coupe starts at
$29,375, while the convertible starts at $33,875. At
those prices, nothing else comes close to taking the