The F40 BMW 1 Series has officially been launched in Malaysia, but it’s available in one variant only, and that is the range-topping M135i xDrive. BMW Malaysia has no plans to introduce the 118i variant, so if you’re a fan of the F40 1 Series, then you’ll have to pony up RM355,646.25 for one. The stated price is after the SST exemption, otherwise the car retails for RM368,800.

Let’s get straight to the juicy bits. Powering this hot hatch is the company’s most powerful B48 2.0 litre four-cylinder petrol engine with a single twin-scroll turbocharger. It’s transversely mounted and produces 306 PS and 450 Nm of torque. An eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic transmission and xDrive all-wheel drive are standard, enabling a 0-100 km/h sprint of 4.8 seconds. Top speed is limited to 250 km/h.

Just as a comparison, the W177 Mercedes-AMG A 35 4Matic with 306 PS and 400 Nm takes 4.7 seconds to complete the century sprint, and it uses a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission and all-wheel drive as well. Other rivals include the Volkswagen Golf R Mk7.5 and FWD Suzuka King, the Fk8 Honda Civic Type R.

Keep in mind that there will not be a full blown M version of the F40 1 Series, because BMW M president Markus Flasch said the FAAR (Frontantriebsarchitektur) front-wheel drive platform is not suitable for high-performance M. This is as quick as it gets – the same engine is also found in the X2 M35i, MINI John Cooper Works GP, JCW Countryman and JCW Clubman.

The M135i xDrive gets conventional M Sport suspension with conventional dampers, which lowers ride height by 10 mm. The front suspension gets a single-joint spring strut axle arrangement, while the rear gets a multi-link setup. No adaptive dampers here, folks.

Also included as standard are the actuator contiguous wheel slip limitation (ARB), BMW Performance Control (a form of torque vectoring), M Sport brakes with blue calipers, a Torsen limited-slip differential that’s integrated into the gearbox, plus Active Sound Design which amplifies the engine note.

While enthusiasts are still coming to terms with the 1er being front-wheel driven, BMW says the FAAR platform does offer several benefits, chief of which is a larger, more practical cabin. The hatch is every bit bigger than its F20 predecessor, but wheelbase has shrunk by 20 mm to 2,670 mm.

The good news is, rear knee room is up by 33 mm, and there’s 19 mm more headroom as well. Boot space measures in at 380 litres (+20 litres than before; 10 litres more than the A-Class hatch), and expands up to 1,200 litres with the rear bench folded.

Design-wise, the hatch gets model-specific trims such as Cerium Grey highlights, gloss black mesh-style kidney grille with grey surrounds, 19-inch V-spoke Style 557 M light alloy wheels shod with 235/35 profile Bridgestone Potenza S005 tyres, adaptive LED headlights with LED hexagonal corona rings, full LED tail lights, M Aerodynamics package, M rear spoiler, and twin exhaust pipes finished in Cerium Grey.

Inside, customers get a choice of full black or two-tone Magma Red leather M Sport seats with grey highlights and black perforations. BMW Live Cockpit Professional and BMW Operating System 7.0 is available as standard, comprising two 10.25-inch digital displays, one being a high-resolution instrument display and the other a touchscreen head unit that can also be operated via the iDrive controller.

Also on are the 16-speaker, 464-watt Harman Kardon surround sound system BMW Digital Key, Apple CarPlay, Remote Software Upgrade, and BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant. Unique M Performance bits include anthracite headliner, M135i front sills, and M seat belts. There is no powered tailgate, though.

On the safety front, BMW Driving Assist is standard, which includes features such as cruise control with braking function, lane departure warning, lane change warning, front collision warning with brake intervention (AEB), rear cross traffic alert, rear collision prevention, auto parking, and rear-view camera.

GALLERY: 2020 F40 BMW M135i xDrive Malaysian Launch