Fair enough, we might not ‘own’ our new long term BMW 1-series M coupe in the traditional sense (no money has exchanged hands between ourselves and BMW GB) but I was still ridiculously excited to take delivery of the car last week – especially as it’s the exact same machine that competed so well with a Porsche Cayman R just recently in Scotland.
We’re running it until February 29 next year, and the idea is to discover during that time whether one can put up with the 1M’s firm ride, its challenging proportions and undeniable thirst for unleaded (assuming you use the twin-turbo straight six in the manner intended) in exchange for the thrills and spills (hopefully not too many spills) we already know it’s capable of delivering.
So far the news is mostly (though not exclusively) good. The looks I’m learning to live with, sort of, although I’m never going to regard the 1M as pretty. In the raw it looks purposeful, potent and a lot more pleasing on the eye than it does in photos – but gorgeous it ain’t, and never will be.
The aspect I’m already beginning to wonder about, though, is the steering. Somehow, back on familiar roads, driving at more everyday speeds, the steering doesn’t seem just as crisp as it did when howling across the Scottish highlands. There’s an artificial weightiness to the system at low to medium speeds that seems ever so slightly hamfisted to me, while the wheel rim itself is so thick it feels strangely unnatural in my hands.
On the other hand, the car really does go like stink, and the body control it displayed on a quick blast across Devil’s Dyke confirmed all the good things we discovered in Scotland. If anything, it feels even quicker than I remember. Driving it sensibly on the public road while indulging in the things it does best is, I suspect, going to be a major exercise in self-restraint. Otherwise it may all end in tears, or at the very least a big black mark on my driving licence.
Overall then, I reckon I’m going to enjoy ‘owning’ this car rather a lot – even if it does look like the automotive equivalent of a skinhead walking down the road with a crazed bull terrier on a lead.