We have a problem. As of last week BMW UK had already sold more than 2/3rds of their 1 Series M Coupé allocation, and unless the new M5 really pulls a rabbit out of a hat, this innocuous-looking entry-level M car is probably the best car BMW have produced in nearly a decade.
How did I arrive at such a preposterous conclusion? After all isn’t this just a 135i with a re-mapped twin-turbo six engine and a fancy body kit?
Well, on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is “I’ve just been given a free lunch” and 1 signifies “I’ve been screwed”, the 1 Series M Coupé is a 12. And a half. Seriously.
Setting off from the short-stay car park at Inverness Airport, after collecting the keys to our pumpkin-hued baby M-car, the first thing that struck me was how well the 1M fitted. Like a well-designed pair of jeans, I felt immediately at home, the steering felt crisp and attentive, the exhaust burbled away purposefully – I knew right away that the 1M and me would get along just fine. Then 50 yards beyond the car park exit and we meet our first roundabout – time to find out if this is really an M-car. If you’ve had the pleasure of owning (or driving) an M-car then you’ll be familiar with this moment – the empty roundabout. Whilst extensive testing and development on the Nürburgring might represent the serious side of the M brand, for most of us outside of a track day, the humble British roundabout represents the best opportunity to feel the genius that’s gone into creating the variable M differential – a device so simple (in theory) but essential in pitching the tail of an M-car sideways under throttle… and keeping it there.
The 1M passed the test with honours. Not since the iconic M3 CSL has an M-car been produced that rewards such a side-window navigation style of driving. The M differential deliver the perfect tag-team performance alongside the 1M’s quick and responsive steering, meaning that anyone (not just the slide-heroes) can enjoy the 1M’s perfect 50:50 balance.
Rather than continue eulogising about the 1M’s talents, not least because there are so many that by the time you read this article all remaining 1M’s will have been sold, I thought it would be more useful to just focus on the reasons why you’d wish you’d got your cheque book out and secured one for yourself.
So here goes. Just hum along to the tune of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and by the time I’ve finished you should be ready to pick up the phone or search the classifieds for your own little piece of M-heaven.
The Sweet Spot
Engine (8 out of 10)
Steering and confidence at the wheel (7 out of 10)
Agility becomes the new watchword for modern day M cars (A big fat 10 out of 10)