BMW’s M1 has started testing ahead of its launch next year, with this prototype of the hot baby coupé undergoing trials in the firm’s home town, Munich.

The existence of the M1 was revealed by Autocar earlier this year, and now these pictures confirm that the car will be based on the 1-series coupé rather than the hatchback.

See the new BMW M1 spy pics

The car will use a modified version of the 535i’s 3.0-litre straight-six powerplant, but fitted with two turbochargers instead of one.

Output is expected to be around 350bhp, making the M1 easily the most powerful car in its class, while torque should be raised from the 135i Coupé’s 295lb ft to around 310lb ft.

That grunt, and a relatively modest kerb weight of around 1500kg, should ensure a 0-60mph time of around 5.5sec.

The car’s flared wheel arches, used to accommodate the M1’s wider tracks, are visible in our pictures, along with the modified front bumper with its larger air intakes. However, it doesn’t look like the M1 will inherit the current V8 M3’s bonnet bulge.

The car in our pictures is fitted with very large wheels and tyres — at least 19 inches in diameter — and behind the front wheels is a set of drilled brake discs.

The M1 is part of a drive by BMW’s M division to make its products more accessible and affordable. The performance arm’s boss, Kay Segler, is keen to broaden the brand’s appeal to younger drivers.

“We want to make M young again,” he said “and affordable. My sons would like to have an M, and when they’re 40, not 60. We’re going towards affordability and freshness.”

Seger also told Autocar that the M1 is a clear indicator of where the brand is heading.

Dan Stevens

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