BMW 1M Coupe – coming in 2011

Most of you know the history that BRracing has with its BMW E82 135i project car (see other posts, and see our project file on the web).  Once we got the car, and started to play with it, we realized what a great canvas this was, and what a great performance car this could be.  Now, with the support of the sales of the 1 series far surpassing what BMW had originally expected, they realized they have a great car, and at just the right spot in the market.  But, there is more that could be done…..and, after all the spy pictures, here is the first of the auto media’s chance to see the new 1M version coming in 2011, including here in the US.  So, to get the insight and full scope, and the latest pics….see below.

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October 08, 2010 / By Frank Markus

Almost since the launch of BMW’s pocket-size 1 Series (128i and 135i here in North America), an M version has been predicted. The tii concept car shown at the 2007 Tokyo motor show was the first harbinger, and the blogosphere has barely quieted down since. One of the biggest questions: What would they call it? Millennial enthusiasts might assume M1, but grownups associate that name with BMW’s first modern mid-engine supercar, so that name was a non-starter (it’s being reserved for something more fabulous than the lowest-priced M vehicle). Instead it will be dubbed 1 Series M Coupe.

That name also draws a connection to this latest M’s true predecessor, the quirky two-seat Z3 and Z4 M Coupes. Okay, it’s around a foot longer, seats four, and weighs a few hundred pounds more, but in its cheeky styling and narrow, nippy demeanor it passes the paternity test. BMW has not released many official details about the 1 M (it breaks cover officially in Detroit in January), but during a recent tech-day visit to Munich the engineers let us take a quickie test drive and either admitted to or winked and nudged at the following facts:

Engine: The N54 twin-turbo 3.0-liter six is closely related to the one in the Z4 sDrive35is. Spooling out 11.6 psi (increasing to 14.5 for up to seven seconds of overboost), the turbos help produce roughly 340 peak horsepower, with torque registering near 370 lb-ft. To spare you the math, that’s 74 fewer horses but 75 more pound-feet of twist than the M3’s peaky V-8 makes. With weight said to remain nearly equal to the 135i’s, that should give the 1 M a weight-to-power rating equal to that of the previous M coupes with far better weight-to-torque than even the M3.

Transmission and driveline: A six-speed manual will be the only transmission offering, and we expect its ratios will be shared with those of the M3 stick. The M3’s Variable M Differential lock rearend is also part of the deal.

Chassis: Almost all of the M3 bits have been adapted to the 1’s closely related platform, with only minor tweaking to account for the 1’s nearly 200-pound lighter load. This includes the aluminum suspension links, the big vented and cross-drilled brakes, and the M3 competition package’s 19-inch Y-spoke wheels, shod in Michelin Pilot Sport PS2’s of the same sizes (245/35ZR19 93Y front, 265/35ZR-19 98Y rear, inflated to 44 psi front/35 psi rear on our prototype).

Body: Fender flares widen the car by 3.1 inches to cover the huge tires, and new fascias accommodate the engine’s increased cooling needs in front and the quad exhaust pipes out back. The 135i’s rear lip spoiler is retained, and all bodywork will be steel to keep the cost low. Paint choices will include Alpine White, Jet Black, and Valencia Orange Metallic.

Interior: Expect white-on-gray M gauges, a three-spoke M steering wheel with M mode button, an M shifter, and sport leather buckets with ample side bolstering.

So how does it run? Matching the last-gen M3 Competition coupe’s weight-to-power ratio with more torque than today’s V-8 M3, the 1 M moves out smartly indeed with zero turbo lag and a healthy snarl that’s dominated by mechanical and induction noise. Servotronic steering retuned for the 1 Series M Coupe relays plenty of road feel with ideal levels of effort. The chassis’ broad stance and high level of control permit cornering that seems impossible outside the virtual world of Sony’s Gran Turismo. Those oversized brakes erase big speeds just as smoothly and effortlessly as the twin-turbos produce it. BMW claims its Nurburgring Nordschleife lap time falls just a bit shy of the M3’s, and that seems plausible.

A limited production run of 2700 units has been reported, with a healthy percentage of that number heading our way. The base price is expected to fall very near $45,000, highlighting the 1 M’s true mission, which is to win back those people who may have failed to make the $8000 price leap from the six-cylinder E46 M3 to the V-8 E92 model. We reckon these folks will be only too thrilled to trade their aging E46s or tuned 335is for one of these.

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And…..stay tuned.  After the Global Tuner Grand Prix this month, look for BRracing project 135i to take on a new look…..and one that we think will put us a step ahead of what the new 1M Coupe will be when it comes next year.

BRracing….performance beyond expectations

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