What is it?
The 1M coupe is the driver’s car that BMW’s M-Division has been threatening (but too often of late failing) to produce. And it’s now on sale in the UK for £40,020, complete with a 337bhp twin-turbo engine and enough real world performance to put even the more expensive V8 M3 in its place.
What’s it like?
Blinding. Although BMW’s claim that the 1M is the spiritual successor to the original E30 M3 must be taken with a small pinch of salt, this is still one heck of a good car to drive. And on the road, in the raw, it looks miles better than it does it pictures, those huge wheelarches appearing to be stretched over the new wider tracks front and rear and the new 19in wheels, to create a definite hot rod character to its appearance.
But it’s from behind the 1M’s chunky new leather wheel that the greatest satisfaction is delivered. This isn’t just a searingly fast car, one with vast amounts of torque that give a genuine sense of amazement to the mid-range; it’s also a proper rear-drive lunatic of a machine in terms of its handling – and that’s what separates it most obviously from one or two other recent machines to wear the M-badge.
Keep its various stability, traction and sport buttons switched on and the 1M feels a bit like the terrible Tasmanian Devil, straining at its leash, yellow lights on the dash flashing pretty much the moment you open the throttle in any of the four gears in the soaking wet rain that we drove it on in the Scottish Highlands. And yet in the dry it feels entirely civilized, most of the time, with a firm but compliant ride and very good control of its body, even over the most challenging of roads.
The only element that’s not quite there, not for personally, is the steering. It’s accurate, precise, and is nicely weighted at all speeds. But like the V8 M3 before it, there’s just a little something missing in the ultimate feedback from the helm at high speed, under bigger cornering loads. And this is magnified most obviously when you turn in to a high speed corner that’s wet.
To begin with, just for quarter of a second, you don’t know for sure if those big front tyres have bitten and the car is going to turn in as desired, or whether they haven’t and you’re about to run wide instead. Once loaded in a corner the feel and sense of grip from the front end is much better; as is the feeling of balance the car displays at the rear once you’ve reached the middle of a corner. And from there to the exit it gets better still.