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

Manufacturer’s web site
BMW Canada

Review and photos by Paul Williams

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2011 BMW 1 Series

Montvale, New Jersey – Since the introduction of the BMW 1 Series to Canada in 2008, enthusiasts have waited for the promised “M” version. After all, the 135i is already something of a sleeper with its 300-horsepower engine tucked into a subcompact package. An “M” version… well, that could really be something.

And indeed, it doesn’t disappoint. Billed as the spiritual successor to the original BMW M3, and available as a limited production vehicle with a limited number of options (no sunroof, for instance), the $53,600 2011 1 Series M Coupé debuts this spring with a 3.0-litre, twin turbocharged, direct injected engine making 335 hp at 5,900 rpm, and 331 lb-ft torque from 1,500 to 4,500 rpm. The same engine is available in the 2011 BMW Z4.

Rear-wheel driven with variable differential lock, a six-speed manual transmission is the only gearbox offered, featuring an upgraded flywheel for high-torque applications.

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

Furthermore, the 1 Series M Coupé’s engine management system is enhanced to include an electronically controlled overboost function that briefly increases torque under full load to 369 lb.-ft. This car can reach 100 km/h from a standing start in 4.9 seconds.

There’s more to an “M” than power, however. Compared with the BMW 135i, the 1 Series M Coupé is five millimetres longer, 53 mm wider, 13 mm taller and has the same 2659 mm wheelbase. Its front track is 71mm wider, rear track is 46 mm wider and it weighs approximately 35 kilograms less.

Most of the front-end components are aluminum, including the struts, swivel bearings, subframe and an additional thrust panel below the engine to increase lateral stiffness.

The rear subframe and suspension components have been reconfigured for increased stiffness, and virtually every rear axle component, including the dampers, are aluminum and new for this generation of M vehicles. The front and rear axles feature two additional longitudinal reinforcement bars to further tailor the suspension for street and track use.

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

Brakes are from the M3; the internally vented, cross-drilled rotors measuring 360 mm in diameter at the front and 350 mm at the rear. Wheels are also from the M3 (in this case, the Competition Package and M3 GTS). The front 19 x 9-inch wheels wear 245/35 tires, and at the rear the 19×10-inch wheels are fitted with 265/35 tires.

The exhaust system is tuned specifically for this model, and like other “M” vehicles, can be identified by its quad exhaust pipes.

Like the M5, the 1 Series M Coupé has an M Drive button on the steering wheel, although unlike the M5, pressing it won’t get you an extra 100 hp. In the 1 Series M Coupe, the M Drive button initiates higher-performance throttle response from the engine, and while this may sound underwhelming compared with a 20 per cent bump in horsepower, just hold that thought.

The exterior design of the 1 Series M Coupé is decidedly muscular. With its diminutive dimensions, large front air intakes, high shoulder line, bulging fenders and wide tires, it gives the impression of a flexed bicep on wheels. BMW says it’s been in a wind tunnel, but I don’t know that it learned much, although its front air curtains and slick mirrors bring the coefficient of drag down to 0.37.

Inside, it’s all black headliner, black Boston leather and black Alcantera (the only interior available), with contrasting orange stitching on the dashboard and sport seats. M gauges, of course, and a small, purposeful, thick-rimmed steering wheel greet the driver, along with a stubby shifter between the seats that falls readily to hand.

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