Grek Kable is passenger for a ride in the hot new BMW 1-series M coupe

Meet the car that M division said it would never build: the 1-series M Coupé.

Set to join BMW’s line-up early next year, following a world premiere at the Detroit motor show next January, the hard-hitting two-door has been conceived as a spiritual successor to the much-loved E30 M3.

BMW gave us a chance to sample the 1-series M Coupé last week at Ascari — albeit from the passenger seat.

See the official pic of the BMW 1-series M coupe in action, plus spy pics

First impressions? It’s too quiet. Running a lightly modified version of the twin-turbo 3.0-litre straight six from the Z4 sDrive35iS, it needs some detailed inlet and exhaust tuning before it can be considered fit for the showroom.

There’s a slight, distant burble of exhaust at idle, but under load the engine lacks the typical BMW M sound that buyers will be seeking.

That aside, this is a truly exciting car — one, I’m willing to bet, that will prove to be M division’s best-selling model within the next couple of years.

Albert Biermann, the man behind its development and my chauffeur, isn’t giving too much away. About all he’s prepared to say right now is that the M Coupé will boast somewhere in the region of 350bhp in production guise — around 50bhp more than the 135i upon which it is based. The prototype we rode in had a standard six-speed manual gearbox, although a seven-speed dual-clutch ’box will also be offered. Transferring drive to the road is a lightly tweaked version of the M3’s M differential.

Hot BMW 1-series M coupe confirmed

With a kerb weight that, Biermann says, undercuts the 135i’s 1455kg and closely stacked ratios, acceleration is not too far from the supercar league. Through the gears, and especially in the mid-range, it feels particularly strong. A torque figure beyond the existing M3’s helps it to romp out of corners with great enthusiasm. From what I could ascertain, the target 0-62mph time of 5.0sec is well within reach, placing it 0.3sec inside that quoted for the 135i.

M division has focused much of its attention on the chassis, as evidenced by its wider tracks and lower ride height. Around Ascari, the 1-series M Coupé feels every bit as agile as the standard M3.

Read the BMW M3 GTS first drive

In fact, its compactness and lower weight even give it the edge in certain sections of the 3.4-mile circuit. Its comparative lack of weight means roll angles are kept to a minimum, although the damping on the prototype was clearly quite stiff.

So the wait for the 1-series M Coupé has started. Let’s just hope Biermann can give it a traditional M sound.

Greg Kable

See all the latest BMW 1-series reviews, news and video

Our Verdict

Measures up on comfort and space, but it’s still boring to drive

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Comments
18

14 July 2010

I wonder how much of a premium it will have over the M sport, which already has a 3.0 6cyl turbo engine that with only £445 spent on it will take it to 360bhp@6068rpm and 456nm@3359rpm. So perhaps expect similar figures from BMW which they haven't released yet.

it's going to have to have a lot of chassis and suspension work, and perceived eliteness all-round.

14 July 2010

350bhp and a six pot? Bang goes the hope of something in the vein of the original M3, along with a sensible price - like that was ever going to happen!

14 July 2010

They dug themselves a bit of a hole with the E30 nonsense, whilst bmw could technically chuck a shedload of weight from the 1 series and therefore get away with a n/a engine (which would still be a six pot, maybe just without a turbo), in reality they wouldn't sell any of these if they did.

People looking at the car would take one drive in it, decide it was far too hardcore (i.e noisy and harsh because there would be no sound deadening, half an interior and heaven forbid no climate control / leather seats) and buy either a 135i, RS3 or a used M3. Perhaps there will be a CSL-esque version that's stripped out a bit.

Still sounds like a beast of a car, but needs to be taken as what it is - modern, small, fat and rapid

14 July 2010

I think what your saying Rodenal is that no manufacturer makes a a driver's car anymore and that I agree with you. People still want their luxuries if they're spending over 40 grand on a car and the manufacturers know this, which as you say makes the car 'fat'.

Still; I think the 135 coupe has more Original M3 sprit than the current car that actually wears the M3 badge.

14 July 2010

This car doesn't appear to be a bespoke performance version which is what normally distinguishes M cars from the rest of the range. It even runs a variation of one of their regular engines rather than a either a purpose-built or stand-alone unit. Maybe 135i M-Sport would have been more apt.

14 July 2010

Back in the E30 M3 days engineers didn't have to worry about Joe public bouncing of the bonnet or places to house airbags to-day they do.

14 July 2010

Autocar : "There’s a slight, distant burble of exhaust at idle, but under load the engine lacks the typical BMW M sound that buyers will be seeking".

But, how can they make a great sound with turbos?

A M is without these turbos!

14 July 2010

Only 0.3secs quicker to 60? Expecting at least 0.6secs, I hope BMW are being very conservative with these claims.

14 July 2010

Fat car for fat people. Rubbish. Here's a promise: if the Mark 7 Golf GTI weighs in under 1200kg I'll be first in the queue.

14 July 2010

[quote fiesta]Here's a promise: if the Mark 7 Golf GTI weighs in under 1200kg I'll be first in the queue.[/quote]

1999kgs might just be possible. VW might be bringing in a 1.6 turbo 200bhp engine, which can be used for the golf gti. Also if they use a new platform it should be lighter than the current one.

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