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One M Worth Waiting For

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On: Wed, Nov 17, 2010 at 12:37PM | By: Lou Ruggieri


One M Worth Waiting For

Since its inaugural debut in 2008, the 1-Series BMW has developed a healthy following of its own, and become a bit more than what some critics touted as merely a "poor man's BMW". Whether it is the happy-to-be-in-the-sun 128i convertible, or the exhilarating turbo-charged 135i, or anything variation therein, the 1-Series has done well for itself. But as any true BMW enthusiast will tell you, no model lineup is truly worthy of the being called the Ultimate Driving Machine until it has an M car designation. It seems that the 1-Series has passed the consumer rite of passage, and now will enter the upper echelon of Bimmer-dom.  

Just as the 1-Series is essentially a 4/5ths version of the 3-Series, so the 1-Series M will be to the M3. In short, the M could stand for Mighty Mouse or just simply Marvelous. Sporting flared fenders, a quad tailpipe exhaust, and a bad attitude, this car is made to fly. It looks the part, thanks to being widened by those massive fenders by what appears to be about a foot, but in actuality amounts to only about 3.1 inches. As with most M cars, the 1-Series M will sport a new front fascia to differentiate it from lesser ones, but more importantly to help support the turbo's need for air, and lots of it.    

Although purists will argue that a "true" M car does not employ forced induction, and that naturally aspirated high revs are the defining characteristic of an M car... They are wrong. That may sound harsh, but in a world where fuel cost is perpetually on the rise, and engineers have to get more and more out of less and less, forced induction is the way to go for gas engines. Unless, those purists want to stay pure and get smoked around every track, at every stoplight, and on every road course they come across just to hold dearly to their outmoded idea of what performance needs to be, then sure, go for it.  

But one drive in a car like the 1-Series M, and those purists might be singing a different tune (Something in the key of M Major perhaps?). The production model's exact power is not yet confirmed, but the engine will be the same twin-turbo 3.0 liter N54 motor used in the 335is, sDrive35is, and 740i. Horsepower should come in at about 340 while torque will weigh in at 370 lb-ft (no word yet on if the 1/M will have an overboost feature like the 335is, but boy do we hope so).

What purists and BMW have come to agreement on (by way of consumer leverage) is that a standard six-speed manual will be available on this potent performer. Although the DCT transmission was a fun novelty at first, and then a stellar performer in more recent renditions, it seems that when it comes to Americans, we just want to be more involved in our driving experience. No argument should be had, however, over the 1-Series M's huge 19-inch wheels shod in 245/35/ZR19 front and 265/35/ZR19 rear Michelin PS2 tires, or the 14.2 inch front and 13.8 inch rear cross-drilled M3 brakes beneath them.

So why not just call this thing an M1? Well, again, purists (this time inside of BMW) argue the M1 is all but mythical in the BMW world thanks to the legacy the original M1 still has in some circles. So BMW says the name is being saved for another project. The 1 Series M Coupe will debut, more than likely, as a 2012 model and BMW's goal is to bring back owners of the gone-but-not-forgotten E46 M3s, who could not (or would not) pony up the 65-grand base price for a new M3.

And finally, onto the question that every wants to know: What'll she do? Expect the 1 Series M to perform just a few ticks behind of the current E92 M3's performance numbers. For those of you who don't feel like doing the research, the modern M3 runs 0-60 in4.1 seconds and traps the quarter mile in 12.5 seconds at 115mph, so a 4.3 second 0-60 sprint and a 12.7 second quarter mile sound just about right for the newest M, and price should come in at a very reasonable $45,000.


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