Around the time that the 1 Series M Coupé was introduced, BMW's most recent acts were to find space for two leviathan SUVs in its line-up while simultaneously canning its two-seat sports car.

It was inevitable that some would ask questions about the direction in which BMW’s fabled M division was heading. Cars such as the X5M and X6M are about as far from our idea of what an M-car should be as Homer Simpson is an ideal role model for our children.

But almost as if BMW had sensed the disquiet, its next move was to introduce this tortuously entitled but pleasingly back-to-basics 1 Series M Coupé.

It may look like a car that’s been screwed up into a ball and left to find its own shape again, but beneath that challenging appearance lies the most simple, straightforward M-car of the past decade. 

And better still, it's priced to excite, and in particular relative to its closest rivals from Audi and Porsche. 

So the formula looks good. The question is, can it be made to work when applied to the 1 Series coupé, a car whose hatchback parent is already seven years old and due for replacement?

Top 5 Sport coupes

  • BMW M4
    The new M4 is powered by a twin-turbo 3.0-litre straight six engine that puts out 425bhp and 406lb ft

    BMW M4

    1
  • Audi RS5 coupé
    The hottest 444bhp version of the A5 coupé range closes in on the BMW M3

    Audi RS5

    2
  • Alpina B4 Biturbo
    The B4 is Alpina's answer to the BMW M4

    Alpina B4 Biturbo

    3
  • Lexus RC-F

    Lexus RC F

    4

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    4 May 2016
    The new Edge SUV is looking to steal sales from BMW and Audi, but has it got enough of an edge to make that happen?
  • First Drive
    3 May 2016
    New entry-level 1.8 TFSI engine takes over from Audi's 2.0 TFSI as the cheapest way into a TT Roadster, but is it necessarily the best choice?
  • First Drive
    3 May 2016
    Audi's SQ7 is silly fast, and makes a silly noise, at a silly price – but contains tech that will prove incredibly influential
  • First Drive
    2 May 2016
    There's lots of work yet to be done, but the Aston Martin DB11's hardware has been signed-off. To experience it, we've driven a prototype
  • First Drive
    1 May 2016
    If you like Minis, going quickly and basking in the sun, then you're in luck; we've driven Mini's new John Cooper Works Convertible on foreign roads