2009 BMW 135i Coupe Base price: $35,600 As tested: $42,42

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SCRAPPY SEDAN FLUNKS POTHOLE TEST, SOARS ON SMOOTH HIGHWAYS

The badge on the front of my otherwise stylish and fast 135i should have read “Emeril.” Why? Because—BAM!—the slightest road divot and bump wheels its way to your spine, and actual potholes—BAM!—explode into the cockpit with enough boom to infer a certain flat within—BAM!— 60 seconds.

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But to its credit, the car never let me down, absorbing every blow of New York City’s crumbling roads with corresponding bangs and booms but keeping tires intact—and Goddess bless that Tire Pressure Monitor that comes with the car.

When driven on a smooth road, the 135i shows off its looks and manners as well as Beemers costing tens of thousands more. Acceleration is fierce via a 3.0 liter, dual overhead cam, 24-valve 6 cylinder engine with a mule-kick turbocharger. The car’s “Dynamic stability control”(DSC) which includes Brake Fade Compensation, Start-off assistant, Brake Drying and Dynamic Traction control all work well, but a tight grip is necessary on the wheel to keep the car from shimming left or right as you step on it. Such is the price one pays for a “cheaper” BMW.

Outside, the car is carved, sexy yet ballsy, and is a definite looker especially when compared to Audi, Benz, Infiniti and other similar wheels in its price range. There isn’t any real need to feel you’re missing out on what you could get if you could swing a 3-series, or a Z.

My only complaint was with the car’s numb satellite radio system—it takes a second or two to find stations when scrolling—but once you settle, the sound is rich and crisp.

A convertible’s also available; AutoGigolo will check it out when the weather warms. 135i-semi

Drivetrain: Rear Wheel Drive
Curb Weight (lbs) 3252
Horsepower 230 @ 6500
Torque (lb-ft) 200 @ 2750
Wheelbase (in.) 104.7
Length (in.) 172.2
Width (in.) 68.8
Height (in.) 56.0
Mileage:  18/25