Update: Added 14 additional spy photos in a new gallery, available below.
The current BMW M135i cranks out 302 horsepower, but could more power be hiding under the camo wrap of this prototype? Correction – could a lot more power be lurking beneath the hood? That's a curious question we have after perusing the latest spy photos of BMW's entry-level model.
Our curiosity stems from four rather shiny exhaust tips exiting at the rear, a feature we've seen in previous 1 Series sightings. Such a setup isn't offered on the current M135i, and in fact, it's typically reserved for full-fat M models. No such vehicle exists in the 1 Series, and we haven't heard anything to suggest that will change. However, that's not to say the M135i couldn't get an upgrade to become the M140. Not a full M-badged monster. But not merely a 1 Series hatch with a bit more power, either.
Gallery: BMW M135i Facelift New Spy Photos
It's an interesting conundrum, but it's one that will likely remain elusive for some time. We are still looking at an early version of the updated hot hatch, as evidenced by the plethora of panels hiding detailed changes on the front clip. A close look suggests the headlights will slim down while the grille stays more or less the same size. The lower fascia could eliminate the vertical corner vents for something more rounded. At the rear, we detect updated taillights, but the rear fascia looks unfinished. Perhaps a diffuser could appear below those tips before all is said and done.
Gallery: BMW 1 Series Facelift New Spy Photos
Here's where things get a bit confusing. Information leaked in July says the turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine used in the 1 Series will max out at 315 horsepower in top trim. That's a small bump versus the current model, which would fall in line with a mid-cycle refresh for the M135i. However, it seems odd that such a modest power increase would include quad-exhaust tips synonymous with bonkers M models. Could the leaked information be incorrect? Could BMW have plans for an actual M machine in the 1 Series family, slotting above the M135i?
One thing we do know is that definitive answers aren't coming anytime soon. The current M135 debuted in October 2021 for the 2022 model year. That means a reveal of the updated version could be at least year away, if not longer.
Check out this special Rambling About Cars podcast for more discussion on future BMWs and our take on the best cars of 2022 so far.