I've had my Mlite for just over 4 months now. Thought I'd do a little review for y'all.
I leased an Alfa Giulietta 2.0 TDI Veloce for 2 years before the Mlite. The Alfa was a really nice car, with a torque-y 170bhp engine (especially in dynamic mode...when it pulled like a train through the mid-range) it was very good on fuel, comfortable, spacious and imo looked fantastic. The handling and steering left a lot to be desired though, but it did precisely the job I acquired it for. When I took the lease, I knew there would be a transition stage coming in my life, so really didn't want to commit to something expensive to lease and run. Did 30k miles in 2 years and it didn't miss a beat.
Funnily enough, the lease on it finished close to the time I went from selling my businesses and starting a full time job as a Project Manager. So, as plans go - it worked perfectly.
The new job meant less mileage which, basically, gave me the freedom to pick anything (within reason) that I wanted.
The Golf R was at the top of the list for a while and, if the truth be told, I never even considered the M135i as a possible replacement. As also a leasing broker, I had the pick of most of the cars on the hit list. The list read: 1) Golf R (new lease) 2) BMW 335i (used) 3) MK7 GTI (new lease) 4) Audi A7 3.0 TDI (used) 5) Merc C250d (new lease)
so, as you can see: no Mlite. The biggest reason for this was the general misconception I had in my mind about it. The usual 'horrendous on fuel, expensive to insure, crap in the bad weather' etc. It wasn't until about 4 weeks before my Alfa contract was up, that I started reading up on them. The more I read, the more I started to think about the possibility of owning one. Got some insurance quotes and they weren't that much more expensive than the R and GTI. 3 weeks left and I made it my mission to test drive an Auto - as that's the one I heard get the plaudits the most. For love no money could I get a test drive at any of the main dealers in the NE.
Time was running out - so I just went with my gut instincts. I trolled through the classified and, 4 days before the Alfa was due to be collected, I found the combination I was looking for: A 5dr Graphite Grey Auto with Coral leather.
There was one slight issue, I really wanted the professional media. Did I really need sat Nav? I guess not, I though, so went ahead and placed a deposit on it.
The car was in Chester VW, so I booked a train that weekend to go and pick it up. For that full journey, I just kept thinking about all the things that could, potentially, go wrong with what I was about to do. What if i didn't like it? I've never bought a model of a car without testing it first.
I was welcomed at the dealer by the principle dealer. Nice chap. He took me to the car and told me that he had personally bought the car from a good friend of his. He seemed really proud of it; personally showed me the spotless bodywork. And it was. Spotless. 25k on the clock and really looked after. The car had just had a full service and a full set of MPSS's on as well. Result! I managed to wrangle a 3 year bodywork (dints, scratches etc) warranty worth £500 out of them for free as well.
As soon as I pulled out of that dealership - I knew I had made the right desicion. The seating position was perfect. The steering was lovely and chunky. In 'Comfort mode' the feel of the steering was positive and lite. The ride felt well judged and not as harsh as past M sport set-ups i had owned. I was pretty cuffed!
That day, the traffic was horrendous. It must have taken at least 30 miles before had a chance to open the taps up on it. And when I did, I was stunned. I was like "wtf??" Now, baring in mind, a few days before collecting the Mlite, I had an M4 for a full day (gifted to our leasing company as a thank you present for a week) I mean, you would expect an M4 to be fast - I just didn't expect this little 1 series to be so much poke. Sounds daft. I know.
Was it better than the cars from my original list. Yes. In my mind, the R was always going to be the Alfa's replacement. I was sure of it. I loved the R from the day I drove it - 18 months previously. But I'm so glad I opted for the Mlite. Don't get me wrong, the R is a weapon. I wont't doubt that for one second - but this little beemer just feels a bit more special to me. It's exciting. Keeps me on my toes. The seating position (imo) is better than the R and just feels so much more involving. The engine is epic.
People were telling me I'm mad for getting a RWD with that much power. This Mlite's capabilities compared to my past BMW E46's and E90 are on a different planet. Even in the wet, it feels far more planted, even with some reasonably spirited driving. 50% of what I can push this in the wet would have spun the old BM's. Of course, I still have to respect the fact that it does have it's limitations in the wet. So can't get too excited at such times.
If I had one criticism, it would be about how restricted the exhaust note is. I'm thinking of doing something about it now though. A sports cat downpipe is on the horizon and I've enquired about the MPE mod on the standard back box to a local exhaust specialist.
My little boy, who's now 7, loves it. "Dad, put it in sports mode and nail it" he says. Lol