A hot BMW 1-series will go on sale next year, the M division's managing director has confirmed.
Dr Kay Segler officially confirmed the company's plans for the first time, adding that it will not be badged as an M model because of associations with the M1 mid-engined sportscar built between 1978 and 1981.
Autocar understands the car will be good for 350bhp and reach UK showrooms in 2011.
BMW’s M division has been working on its entry-level model in a bid to attract younger buyers to BMW’s performance cars.
Power for the model will come from a twin-turbocharged six-cylinder engine producing 350bhp. More than outright power, though, it is torque that is likely to play a more significant role in defining the new car’s character.
No figures have been released, but with BMW’s standard turbocharged 3.0-litre six already producing an M3-equalling 295lb ft, the newly developed M version of this engine should be good for at least 310lb ft.
The basis for the new M-car is today’s 1-series coupé. Its driveline is likely to feature a standard six-speed dual-clutch gearbox and an electronically controlled M differential.
With a kerb weight of not much more than 1500kg, its straightline performance should be close to that of the 1580kg M3. A relatively short 3.15:1 final drive promises a 0-60mph time of around 5.5sec.
Fuel-saving measures such as brake energy regeneration and possibly a stop-start system should also ensure the new M1 is no thirstier than the 135i, which delivers 30.7mpg in six-speed manual guise.
Underneath, the layout of the 1-series coupé’s MacPherson strut (front) and multi-link (rear) suspension will remain the same. However, M division engineers have set about altering the suspension properties, with firmer spring and dampers, and a new set of bushes.
It will slot into the range beneath the M3 coupé, and should cost around £38,000, £8000 more than the 135i Coupé M Sport. That means it will compete directly with Audi’s forthcoming RS3.