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

  • Porsche Cayman
    The Porsche Cayman is now in its second generation

    Porsche Cayman

    1
  • The stated criteria for the GT86 read like a purist's manifesto: rear-drive, no turbo, ordinary tyres

    Toyota GT86

    2
  • BMW M235i
    The BMW M235i is a rear-wheel-drive turbocharged coupé which rivals the likes of the Porsche Cayman

    BMW M235i

    3
  • Costliest car gets the deftest chassis to ever underpin a TT - the best reason yet to buy into Audi’s coupe.

    Audi TTS

    4
  • Peugeot RCZ R
    The front-drive RCZ R packs a 266bhp turbocharged engine

    Peugeot RCZ R

    5

First drives

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • First Drive
    31 August 2015
    Thought the 3 Series was losing its edge? Well it's back, with a facelifted version that offers improved performance and dynamics. Does it reclaim its top spot after our drive on UK roads?
  • First Drive
    27 August 2015
    BMW gives its flagship 7 Series an extensive overhaul in a bid to tempt buyers of luxury cars away from the Mercedes S-Class, Audi's A8 and the Jaguar XJ
  • First Drive
    26 August 2015
    New Qashqai rival majors on practicality and usability and benefits from a long warranty, but lower-specification versions are the better bet
  • First Drive
    26 August 2015
    Go-faster Bentley Continental feels effortlessly quick despite its considerable weight
  • Car review
    26 August 2015
    Can the new S-Max retain its title as the driver's seven-seater?