Here’s the deal. If you own a BMW M-series automobile and have never taken it to a racetrack then I hereby classify you as a big fat weenie. Keep in mind that I know that I’ve just insulted the majority of M-car owners out there, but please know that there is a reason for this. You see these cars are good, very good, which is why it pains me when I talk to M-car owners who have never explored the real potential that these cars have to offer. Truth be told, I think that maybe 50% of owners understand what these cars can do, while the other 50% are missing one of the greatest automotive experiences out there. BMW’s M division has been cranking out cars since the early 1970’s, so saying they’ve got their sh*t together would be an understatement. By now we’re all familiar with the BMW M3, M5 and various M-SUV’s, but what about their newest M-car? What about the 2011 BMW 1 Series M Coupe? I was recently invited up to Monticello Motor Club in Monticello, NY to drive, abuse and play with BMW’s newest little pocket rocket and man-O-man was it fun.
Keep in mind that I’m a huge fan of the BMW 135i as I think it’s a great little car with awesome road manners and even better performance. Therefore when I heard BMW was building an M version of this little bugger I have to say, I was very excited. The 1 Series M Coupe is a squat little bulldog of a car. Its front end is highly stylized and features integrated air ducts that BMW refers to as an “air curtain”. This helps smooth out the air flow over each wheel to help the M coupe achieve a drag coefficient of .37. Those wheels by the way are 19-incher’s and are shod with big sticky Michelin rubber and like all modern M-cars the little 1M also comes complete with a quad-pipe rear exhaust. Some of you may look at this car as a parts bin special, because lets face it, it shares quite a few items with its older brother, the M3. However, if you think that this detracts anything from this car, then think again.
Generally speaking, automotive press launches usually consist of manufacturers going out of their way to pimp out their latest toy to journalists. Sometimes they’ll wine and dine you, other times they’ll feed you cookie cutter information, but sometimes and on rare occasions, they’ll simply give you the keys and say “GO”. That’s exactly what BMW did and I totally applaud them for it. Sure there was the prerequisite classroom session where they told us that the 1M’s twin-turbo inline six makes 335 hp and up to 370 lb-ft of torque on overboost, and that the 1M shares the same brakes, variable differential and 5-link rear suspension from the M3, but otherwise that was it.
Climb into the 1 Series M Coupe and you’re greeted to a very spartan, minimalist cabin that provides the performance driver with everything they need. Take note here as I said “performance driver”. This is not a car for those looking for high luxury. Yes it does have standard alcantara in the door panels and dash, and yes you can option it out with things like a navigation system, power front seats and ambiance lighting, but take my advice, get the base model, head to your nearest racetrack and then flog the crap out of this thing. Understand that this IS a performance car, and more importantly an M car in every sense of, well… the “M” badge.
Get the 1M onto the track and you’ll almost immediately realize that you’re driving something special. The twin-turbo inline six with overboost gives you immediate torque when you mash the go pedal. Its power delivery is beautifully linear and it pulls hard all the way up to its 7,000 rpm redline. The clutch is light with short throw shifts through the 1M’s 6-speed manual gearbox being firm and precise.
Nicely weighted steering combined with lightening quick turn-in also help lend to the cars appeal. The best part about this thing however was that it was just so damn flick-able and fun to drive. Seriously, go in hot to a corner, jam on those big 360mm brakes, turn in tight and then throttle out whilst unwinding the car from the apex.
I was literally giggling like a school kid as I was driving it. Even though the car is packed with technology, from a drivers perspective you’d never know it. BMW has done a simply amazing job of making every system work seamlessly and without notice from the driver. For those who like dials, bells, whistles and a do-it-yourself set-up system, understand that this car is not for you. Instead it’s got this nifty little M button on the steering wheel whose job is to simply adjust the throttle mapping for optimal performance.
The styling of the little M will be of the “love it” or “leave it” variety. Personally I totally dig the squat, beat you up and take your lunch money stance. I love the bulging fender flares, accentuated rear front and rear fascias and spartan interior. I also love the fact that this is a performance car first and foremost and a road car second. What I don’t like about the 2011 BMW 1 Series M Coupe is that this may in fact be a one year only model, as BMW only has plans to build 800 of them. There are no plans for a 2012 model as of yet. That means if you want one then you’d better boogie on down to your BMW dealership immediately.
The 1 Series M Coupe starts at $47,010.00 but can go north of 50k when option packages are added. Unfortunately I can’t give you any on-the-road impressions as of yet as I’ve only driven this baby on the racetrack. BMW has assured me however that I’ll be getting one for street use in the not too distant future, so don’t worry as you’ll be getting my full road going download on BMW’s newest little M-car soon enough!