Can 1M cause the decline of M3 sales?
12 December 2010
BMW has finally shown its long waited 1M. The car is a thoroughly warmed-over 135i and controversially the first M-car to have a series production engine instead of a specially developed M unit.
Understandably, BMW’s marketing people were worried about the future of the 1M since it possibly causes decline of current M3 sales. Therefore, it's been built to be quick, but not too quick
It will be powered by the ‘older’ twin-turbo N54 version of BMW’s much-vaunted three-litre, in-line six that's capable of 250kW and 450Nm, figures similar to the current Z4 sDrive35i. Most M-car fans had hoped for a peak of 260kW. Whatever, BMW has added a torque-enhancing overboost function that gets an extra 50Nm off the 1M’s crank during short bursts of demanding acceleration.
Performance figures are hugely impressive for a car of its size and class. The benchmark 0-100km/h sprint is listed as 4.9sec (a tenth slower than M3). Primarily the 1M will be released with only one transmission option, a six-speed H-gate manual, with the possibility of BMW’s seven-speed DCT joining as a second model later. The Getrag six-speed manual transmission is balanced by a weightier flywheel and features dry-sump cooling to ensure it is suitably configured to withstand track-day abuse.
To support dynamic harmony, BMW’s M-division engineers have reduced the 1M’s weight by 35kg from the 135i, at lightweight roof cost – it enable removing weight from the car’s highest (and most stability critical) point.
The 1M is 5mm longer, 53mm wider and 13mm taller than the 135i – despite a 20mm reduction in ride height. The increased dimensions are mostly the result of the car’s surfacing add-ons and larger front air intakes. Featuring true M-division derived kinematics, geometry and stiffness, all four wheels have been balanced by BMW’s latest M-certified aluminium shock-absorbers and engineers have enlarged the 1M’s tracking widths by 71mm up front and 53mm at the rear to make the most of its Nordschleife-validated suspension bits. Reining in the 1M’s straight-line performance are 360mm discs behind the front wheels and 350mm at the rear.
Factor in 265/35R19 tyres in extended rear wheel arches and an appreciable increase in dynamic verve over its 135i sibling is a given. BMW’s provided the 1M with a raft of dynamic driver assistance system. Dynamic stability control and an ABS system supported by an anti-slip control function, Dynamic Brake control and cornering brake Control can all be synchronized through the M Dynamic Mode button to provide a very high intervention threshold, thus providing optimal driver engagement while retaining several margin of safety.
Cabin embellishments have been kept, in M-range tradition, to a minimum: only a fatter steering wheel and more body-hugging bucket seats are notable interior upgrades over the 135i.
The 1M will be in South Africa in May, 2011.