Sunday, January 16, 2011

NAIAS Premiere: 2012 BMW 1-series M Coupe

It's no secret that I am a huge fan of BMW.  I'm actually quite disappointed that they aren't using The Ultimate Driving Machine slogan as heavily, because that phrase is what most accurately describes their cars. As the owner of a 1976 2002, I was extremely excited when BMW released the 1-series... but something was missing. "Where's the M model?" I asked.

Apparently I wasn't the only one wondering, because BMW answered the call for 2012.

The 1-series M Coupe has a 335 horsepower twin-turbo straight six engine along with a slew of M upgrades, notably M3 brakes and modified body panels to accomodate its "substantially widened track" compared to the regular 1-series. In addition, BMW has opted to delete the moonroof, which saves a lot of weight and contributes to the all-important center of gravity (and adds headroom for helmets!)

BMW says they were inspired by the 1988 M3- the model that began the M legend. Somewhat ironically, the 1-series is 4.8 inches wider and 1.3 inches longer than its 22-year-old ancestor. 

Perhaps my favorite feature of the 1-series M coupe is the "M button" situated on the steering wheel that activates a sport-tuned throttle mode for "the sportiest driving." I hope BMW chose a sturdy button for this job, because I would certainly use it often.

It looks pretty damn cool, too.  That orange color definitely pays homage to the Inka Orange that was popular on the 2002 back in the day.

Thankfully, you cannot buy the 1-series M coupe with an automatic transmission! To do so would be a sin of incomprehensible gravity, and I'm glad that BMW has chosen to keep the choice off the build sheet altogether. This reinforces the fact that BMW hasn't just tossed some performance brakes and an M steering wheel in the car. Looking at the spec sheets, it's clear that the M coupe is a very different car from the average 1-series.

Prices start at around $47,000. In my opinion, this coupe's biggest competition is a used M3. Personally, I'd have a very hard time choosing between the two... the "M1" is a sweet piece of engineering. Stay tuned for a full review, because I plan on getting my hands on one of these to test drive.

Check out those wheel well arches!

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