While some think a front-wheel-drive car isn't worthy of the BMW badge, the folks from Munich see things differently. There's a new 1 Series with transversally mounted engines, one of which has only three cylinders. At the top of the food chain sits the M135, now without the "i" at the end of its name. However, something different caught our attention about the rear logo.

Notice how the badge is different than what the old M135i had? We're not just talking about the last letter being dropped. The "M" and "1" continue to have the same size as before but the "3" and "5" are now smaller. To the untrained eye, it gives the impression they're looking at the rear of an M1, which is hardly the case. The mid-engine supercar is a distant memory that BMW never replicated beyond a handful of concept cars like the 2008 M1 Hommage and the 2019 Vision M Next.

<p>New BMW M135</p>

New BMW M135

<p>Old BMW M135i</p>

Old BMW M135i

And don't get us started about the "3" and "5" since the new hot hatch from Bavaria doesn't have a 3.5-liter engine. The M madness continues with the letter now adorning the front grille, which wasn't there on its predecessor. BMW is also giving the M135 quad exhausts and the M signature mirror design–both design traits previously reserved only for actual M cars.

It's worth noting the M135 is not the first BMW to use the revised rear badging that might trick some people into believing it’s a more exciting car. We first noticed this back in 2022 when the M760e debuted with the "M" and "7" having the same size while the rest of the characters were notably smaller. That isn't an M7 either, even though it kind of looks that way.

The German luxury brand doesn't have a cohesive approach when it comes to the design of its rear badges. As evidenced in the image below, the 2025 M440i continues to use the old format. Electric models such as the i5 M60 and iX M60 emphasize the M. In BMW's defense, it’s tricky to come up with a universal formula given the sheer amount of M Performance and M models the company offers.

What is clear is that BMW wants to narrow the gap between M Lite and real M cars. Visually, at least. When the M division reports sales, it includes those of the not-quite-M vehicles. The i4 M50 was actually the best-selling car from BMW M in 2022 and 2023. The M3 Sedan was the most popular full-fat M last year.

<p>BMW iX M60</p>

BMW M440i

BMW i5 M60 xDrive Touring (2024)

BMW i5 M60 Touring

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Gallery: 2025 BMW 1 Series

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