What is it?
Well, it looks the business. When you see the BMW 1 Series M Coupé in the metal, it’s hard not to be impressed. Even with the taped disguise of this pre-production prototype, it is clear that this is more than just a warmed-over version of BMW’s price-leading two-door.
It’s not beautiful. But the added visual muscle and ground-hugging stance of the new entry-level M-car raises expectations of the performance lurking within. It’s a shot of attitude before you’ve even climbed into the contoured driver’s seat and hit the starter button.
The 1 Series M Coupé’s new aluminium wings have been widened by 80mm over the steel panels of its standard sibling to accommodate a longer front track and trick new rear axle. Combine this with a 10mm lowering in ride height and you’ve got the basis for a purposeful-looking car whose appearance is enhanced ever further by a deep front bumper that houses cooling ducts for its twin-turbo 3.0-litre straight six engine.
What's it like?
One thing’s for sure: the new M-car doesn’t lack shove. Its engine is a development of the updated unit used in the Z4 sDrive35iS. As with so much of this car’s mechanical package, BMW is not divulging much about it at all. But with a host of typical performance-enhancing changes – including larger turbochargers, additional boost pressure and unique mapping – power and torque are said to be somewhere north of the Z4’s 335bhp and 332lb ft of torque.
The thing that grabs your attention as you pull away is its flexibility. It will accept sixth gear at 1000rpm without any unruly shunt and continue to pull hard towards the business end of the range without any dip in demeanour.
It’s under load in low gears, though, where it does its best work. Planting your foot in second induces the sort of rolling acceleration to match the 414bhp V8 M3 and it feels terrifically urgent right up to its 7000rpm limit.
Apportioning drive is a six-speed manual gearbox, the only choice for buyers. However, the car does get the same rear axle as the M3, complete with its electronically controlled M differential for more engaging driver appeal and big levels of traction. Nothing’s official, but expect a 0-62mph time of around 5.0sec and a top speed limited to 155mph.