Despite not being the fastest car on the block, the BMW 1 Series M coupe (or 1M) is still an M car through and through. In today’s performance world the debate centers around overall horsepower and the amount of gadgets a car possesses far too often. Here, the tale of the tape is less about numbers and more about substance. The focus is simplicity in order to deliver the utmost driving pleasure for the purist automotive enthusiast. In an interview Dr. Kay Segler of BMW’s M Division described the 1 Series M in the follow way. “This model will be based on the BMW 1 Series Coupé and also be focused on the essentials – the fascination of driving. And it will reflect a love of detail, too.”
With that said, it’s very fitting that leading up to its release BMW has drawn direct comparisons to the E30 M3. The iconic car that started it all for the M division. For better or worse, since that time the M3 has ballooned in weight and size. Thus, there is a place for another M, being that the 1 Series M Coupe is aimed at recapturing the same spirit of the E30 M3. It’s designed to be small, nimble, and lightweight making it unique from the other high performance cars in its family. It’s also priced to provide an entry level option into the prestigious M club.
Powering the 1 Series M Coupe is a modified N55 engine. The goal of BMW’s new engine program is to produce greener cars that reduce emissions, deliver better gas mileage, while also optimizing performance. As such, the 1M is equipped with a relatively small (but still powerful) 3.0 liter inline six cylinder engine with twin turbochargers. This all aluminum, direct injection power-plant produces 335 horsepower at 5,900 rpm. The torque curve also produces a nice graph, reaching 332lb-ft from 1,500-4,500 rpm (with +37lb-ft overboost).
We know, any time the word “green” is mentioned performance aficionados typically lose interest and I can’t blame you for doing so. But, as technology progresses manufactures are beginning to prove that you can have your cake and eat it too. After all, a car that’s capable of completing the 0-60mph sprint in just 4.7 seconds is far from what we would normally associate with a “green” car. In addition, the quarter mile is expected to go by in just 13.2 seconds. It’s not blisteringly fast, but enough to show that BMW’s move for efficiency, should not be confused for them making performance a lower priority.
However, if you’re interested in the BMW 1 Series M Coupe, it’s probably not the stat-line that peaked your interest to begin with. Instead, the 1M will lure in fans who crave a proper chassis. We’re talking about the type of gearheads who must be one with the car, as if it’s simply an extension of their body. The type of guys who will take handling, over a giant brick with gobs of power, without hesitation. The 1M was designed particularly with this segment in mind. BMW has stated that one of their goals was to “engineer a chassis that is faster than its engine”. If that line gives you goose bumps, then you’ve found the right page and you’re researching the right car.
The chassis is what makes the 1M special. It’s lightweight at only 3,296 pounds and has an almost perfect weight distribution of 51.7% front and 48.3% rear. If you’re a track addict, then those are the numbers that make you fall in love. Further, the unibody is made from high strength steel with a metal roof panel, a recipe for a lightweight and rigid chassis.
It sports the same aluminum suspension from the M3 and communicates to the driver via rack-and-pinion steering with hydraulic power steering (servotronic).
The 1M is also the first production BMW to feature air curtains. The air curtains are designed to improve airflow around the wheel arches to significantly reduce turbulence. Openings in the lower front fascia directs high-pressured air through ducts at each front corner. The ducts then channel air to openings at the front of each wheel arch, where it is discharged through very narrow openings at high speed. This system effectively reduces aerodynamically unfavorable turbulence around the rotating wheels.
When Edmunds had the opportunity to drive a prototype version, their review complimented the 1 Series M Coupe’s ample power at low rev’s. Other key points include:
More recently, Auto Express elaborated on their thoughts towards a production BMW 1 Series M Coupe.
Auto 123 offers their 1 Series M impressions, all of which you should find very positive.
Car and driver pits the BMW 1 Series M Coupe against the Infiniti IPL G Coupe and Audi TT RS.
Chris Harris of Evo Magazine gives us his take on one of the preproduction version.
BMW invites ordinary customers to test drive a prototype version of the 1 Series M
Axis of Oversteer goes for a little drifting