2011 BMW 1 Series M Coupe
2011 BMW 1 Series M Coupe. Click image to enlarge

First Drive: 2011 BMW 1 Series M Coupe

Manufacturer’s web site
BMW Canada

Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

Photo Gallery:
2011 BMW 1 Series

Chunky seems a good word to describe the 2011 BMW 1 Series M Coupe. Being a conceptual throwback to early BMW sporty coupes (think the legendary 1972-74 2002tii) and the original M3, the $53,600 1 M sits all butch and squat, its upright body busting out with flared arches that barely cover the 19-inch wheels. The front fascia is a riot of scoops and inlets, but it’s not all for show. This is the first application of BMW’s “air curtain” front air vents, which direct a thin layer of air over the front wheels, reducing turbulence and lowering the drag coefficient.

A rear deck lip spoiler, rear diffuser and four bold chrome exhaust outlets complete the picture. In $800 Valencia Orange (your other choices are white and black) Bimmer’s little bulldog looks positively menacing.

“Quick” would also be an appropriate word here. Under hood is the twin-turbo N54 3.0-litre straight-six from the Z4 35is and 335is (not the newer single-turbo N55 version in the 135i), here tuned for 335 hp and 332 lb.-ft. from 1,500 to 4,500 rpm, with a five-second overboost to 369 lb.-ft. when Reebok meets firewall. One hundred km/h comes up in 4.9 seconds and top speed is electronically limited to 250 km/h.

2011 BMW 1 Series M Coupe
2011 BMW 1 Series M Coupe
2011 BMW 1 Series M Coupe. Click image to enlarge

The only available transmission is a six-speed manual, which operates with expected BMW precision. Clutch take-up is smooth and linear and the pedals are well placed for heel-and toe manoeuvres.

Of course, being a product of the M division, the mods don’t stop here. They’ve also attached the brakes and suspension bits from bigger-brother M3, although unlike the M3’s adaptive units, these are fixed rate dampers.

Compared to the regular BMW 135i, this M Coupe’s front track is 71 mm wider, rear track is 46 mm wider and it weighs approximately 35 kilograms less thanks to an aluminum front subframe and extensive use of aluminum in the suspension components.

So here we have a car to set the hearts a-flutter of any BMW enthusiast (or any enthusiast for that matter) – rear drive, near ideal 50/50 weight distribution, one of the best straight-six engines ever fashioned by mankind and a reasonable, if not completely svelte curb weight of 1,525 kg. And an appearance that is not at all shy about broadcasting its mandate.

Nor is the exhaust system: fire it up with the start button and you’ll be forgiven for thinking the M lads may have forgotten to install a muffler. We’re used to turbos damping exhaust notes, but not here. Another non-turbo characteristic of this engine is its eagerness to soar to the 7,000 r.p.m. redline, although peak power does arrive at 5,900 r.p.m.

Out on the road, the 1 Series M Coupe is a hoot. It’s very fast, and with all the low-down torque there is no waiting for that addictive linear rush, no matter what gear you’re in.

Connect with Autos.ca