Little BMW 1 series + 254kW = mayhem
The smallest BMWgets the Msurgery. Dave Moore’s impressed.
BMW’s performance arm, BMW Motorsport, first started badging its cars with the martini-striped ‘‘M’’ when its single-make racing car – the midengined M1 coupe – hit race tracks 30 years ago.
Since then, the badge has built such a name for itself, even hard-up owners of lesser BMW models often dress their boot lids with the distinctive chromed character, probably only fooling themselves.
Over the years even BMW has watered down the M-branding by allowing non-motorsport cars to use the badge as a sales attraction, despite the cars having just a set of wheels and nice trim and no work done to the engine at all.
Ever careful to avoid confusion with the iconic M1, BMW calls its new high-performance 1-series coupe, the 1Series M Coupe.
It’s an awkward moniker, and it won’t be a surprise that even the staunchest Beemerphiles are already calling the car the M1.
And well they should. It deserves such a simple label as it outpowers the original M1 by some distance and runs even the current V8-engined M3 so close for performance, you could taste it.
It’s powered by BMW twin-turbo 2979cc six engine which uses direct injection technology and the company’s double VANOS variable valve timing to develop a maximum output of 254 kilowatts.
The car takes just 4.9 seconds to accelerate from zero to 100kmh, which is very much in Porsche territory, but evidently driveability has been built into the drive-train in the form of a torque curve that sees the car’s maximum torque of 450 Newton metres produced from as little as 1500 revolutions a minute.
The performance is largely brought about by the car’s 1495 kilograms, achieved by extensive use of aluminium.
Externally similar in size to the greatest M-car of all, the E30 M3, the sporting character of the 1-Series M Coupe – damn it, M1! – is expressed by widened wheel arches, making it 55 millimetres wider than a standard 1-series coupe.
It also gets special 19-inch Y-spoke M alloy wheels, and dual chrome tail pipes.
A discreet spoiler lip and rear apron with side openings echo the front valance’s air intakes, while L-shaped rear light clusters with two light banks fed by LED units complete the M car look.
Exterior paint finishes will be Alpine White non-metallic and Black Sapphire metallic – popular with 1980s M3 buyers – and the Valencia Orange metallic of the car shown here.
Twin corona bi-xenon headlamps are featured, and LED positioning lights.
Inside, the M1 has charcoal ‘‘Boston’’ leather with orange stitching, an M leather steering wheel and Alcantara fabric with kyalami orange contrast stitching on the door trim, door inserts, handbrake, gear lever gaiter and instrument binnacle cove.
The M logo is also embossed in the front of the headrests.
The engine control system of the car allows two differing performance curves: in standard mode the M1 offers a more torque-orientated, flexible character to the engine’s performance delivery, while in M Dynamic Mode activated by a button on the steering wheel, engine speeds rise more quickly allowing what owners are sure to call ‘‘track mode’’, for this is where the new M1 may well find itself being exercised most of all.
Knowing this, BMW says the car’s cooling system has been designed for constant high load, high-speed track driving, through the use of an additional separate radiator and a specific air duct to deal with the increased thermal stresses that can occur when driving in a particularly sporty style on the race track.
The BMW 1 Series M Coupe is only offered with a six-speed manual transmission, operated using a very short-shift M gear lever.
BMW New Zealand has not revealed the pricing of the M1 here, though it has for Britain, where it’s priced about the same as mid-range Z4 roadster coupe. That could make the car $110,000, which makes it a sharp value alternative to a Cayman, or other track-oriented sports car.
BMWM1: Next to the famous four-cylinder M3 of the mid-80s, right, the newest M-badged car looks smaller, belying its six-cylinder twin-turbo power unit. It has a badge first used by a mid-engined sports car, but the new M1’s closest relative is probably the all-conquering M3 of the 80s.