The BMW 1M Coupe Driven
The Year was 2011 and the M-division boffins with the assistance of their rather expansive parts bin, saw it fit to introduce the most bonkers 1 Series ever, the BMW 1M Coupe. Now keen enthusiasts will note the backwards name, primarily due to the existence of the M1. The M1 was the 1970’s, Lamborghini and BMW collaborative effort at a supercar. It was Genesis and the daddy of the M-car movement.
Although they may not share this sacred name nor function as this is no homologation special, the 1M is more than fitting a candidate to behold the M badge. This entry into ‘Fast BMW’ history books is arguably one of the best yet – a disarray of old M3’s, in the form of a 6-speed manual and Rear end from the E90. A breathed on version of the again defunct N54 Twin-turbo engine and a rather boy-racer wide body kit, courtesy of the 55mm added to the track and a set of huge 19-inch wheels on super sticky rubber that filled the arches. Finished in Alpine White, Black or the rather bright “Sunburst Orange”, It sounded like the modern equivalent of the 2004 BMW M3 CSL – a lightweight, mega fast, mega fun car for attacking mountain passes. Much like the CSL, the 1M came in very limited numbers with only 64 reaching our sunny Republic, but more to the point, it took the then standard benchmark drivers cars and blow them out the water, with a package that left the likes of the Porsche Cayman R with a bloody nose – all with room for the monthly shop and small humans in the back.
Part of the 1M’s charisma is the significant focus on the basic formula for M car trickery. A sizable engine with numbers to match – 3.0-litres packing 250 kW and 450 N.m, 500 N.m on over-boost. Coupled with a lightweight short wheel base, rear wheel drive, 6-forward ratios, 3 pedals were figures of 4.1 seconds to 100 km/h and 250km/h. Not to mention the 50:50 weight distribution and the trick M Dynamic differential.
Driving the 1M Coupe
The leisurely beginnings to my drive began with the city- stop start traffic and the drooling faces of the many that understand the rarity of the little motor. The car is very compliant and handles our rough roads rather well, dare I say the ride is good. So too is the in-town fuel consumption, managing to sip an indicated 9.0 l/100 when behaving. The cabin is a comfortable place that’s well-appointed and has many of the amenities you’d expect from a luxury car but the only feature that soon grew of importance was the ‘M’ button on the Alcantara steering wheel.
This transports you directly into the world of M car power games. The traction control is backed off to allow for some fun and the ride firmed up. The car is immense, and within the first corner it became abundantly clear that this was a seriously quick car, the shove is relentless and the acceleration suggests to a lot more than 250 kW, it’s properly rapid and this rapidness is not something that is lost in the corners with the initial entry into them being direct and precise and a clear understanding of the front wheels being communicated. The car feels so light and neutral no understeer nor oversteer, just pick a line and it pulls you through. The car is extremely confidence inspiring and has a strong sense of surety. The frankly insane corning speed is rather hard to understand, as this car seems to bend the laws of physics. The short wheelbase and big power do mean when you push a bit too hard, the rear can catch you out but it’s very predictable and can be caught rather easily. The fun aspect is huge it’s upsettingly quick, so quick that even the bright green, 2 wheeled playmates I had developed struggled to shake the BMW 1M through the corners. This thing is epic! The MDM rear diff is really rather good and will lock up the rear wheels for huge slides and the cornering balance and smooth power lets you pin the rear end out there like a vestigial limb.
The 1M is challenging, sharp and very demanding of the driver, it’s also one of the best cars I’ve ever driven and possibly the hardest to review as it’s so engaging one forgets about consumerism and takes on the façade of a Bruno Spengler wrestling it around a track, it’s rather brilliant! Easily the best driver’s car, and a car that would get you into a lot of trouble. A thought that came over me when I realised how far I had driven away from the city and how quickly I had covered that distance
BMW 1M Price in South Africa
Pricing these days still around R800 000, it still demands a R300k premium over the original asking price, for a 6-year-old car, nut as they are few and far between and one of the best cars ever to birthed by the M-division if you have a spare R800k, buy two!