The 1M to be Powered by a Modified N54

The 1M signifies a shift in the way M creates cars. With the exception of the US market E36 M3, every M product has featured a unique engine that was designed from the ground up by the M Division. But the 1M project is different. The idea was to create something like the E30 M3. Not overly powerful and loaded with feel and all the nuances that have made the E30 M3 a classic.

In addition to that M had to keep the price down due to very low volume. So M had a unique series of parameters to stay within. They only needed a moderate power increase and they clearly needed to keep the development costs down to lower levels than normally seen on M engines.

Enter the N54 turbocharged inline six. The twin turbo N54 crucially doesn ‘t feature Valvetronic making it much easier to tune. It also was designed as a classic twin turbo rather than the single twin-scroll housing on the N55. All this made for an engine much easier for M to take, tweak and drop into the 1M.

But power is crucial to all M cars right? The M Division uses power for both marketing (i.e. M6) and performance (i.e. M3). The thing that sometimes goes unspoken is feel. Now M is talking about feel. In fact that was the key message Dr. Kay Segler had when we spoke at the 1M introduction.So if feel is the most important part of the 1M, power becomes a tertiary part of the car ‘s story and thus its marketing message.

So what should we expect in regards to numbers? One school of thought would look for power to be closer to the 335 figure from the Z4 35is than the 350 that we ‘ve read about (on BF and elsewhere) for the past year.

However we can ‘t help but think M might surprise us. With the more robust M3 transmission and differential the 1M could clearly take the extra power. Moreover we know the N54 can easily be tuned to accept more power than the 335 figure.

Regardless torque should be pretty impressive. We know the Z4 35is gets 369 ft lbs of the stuff on the overboost so we ‘d have to expect the 1M to be similar.

But how do we really know? Hearing the car start and then idle off of the enclosed trailer (as it was getting ready for our early look) you could clearly hear the distinct note of an N54. So with that plus all the obvious signs and rational points mentioned above consider the debate over.

The 1M. A car with a modified “series ” engine, enough power and torque, exceptional chassis and (hopefully) great feel. It ‘s a new twist to the standard M forumla but one that might just prove ideal this price range and this particular situation.

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  • Dylan

    No surprises there really. The N54 is already a great engine, so why rule it out purely because of dogma that says an M engine should be bespoke. The 135i was never considered slow, and in fact, was considered by many as a match for the M3 in such a small car – so this should be more than fine. Perhaps M will do some extra work around reducing turbo lag and increase throttle response?

  • Lee L

    This could be good or not so good. On one hand, the N54 is known to be quite under rated currently with many putting out close to 325 hp off the line. If it’s rated at 325-330 but is rated in a similarly conservative fashion it will be good. Otherwise there’s not much space between a 135i and it nay be more of a “label” car.

    On the other hand, tuners have found ways to make stupendous power from the N54 so I imagine this won’t be different, do gains will be there to be had for those who choose to have it tuned.

    Hopefully they do find a way to put a fuel pump that does not need replacing every 10,000 miles in it.

  • Dylan

    Also, does anyone else get the feeling that M is currently in very capable hands? The BMW community should breath a sign of relief – the M team clearly “get it”

  • BForbes

    A lot of people are going to be up in arms about this. My advice: see the new M5, new M6, X5M, X6M. They all use tweaked versions of the Twin-turbo V8 found in the 7series BMW. Would I rather {insert tuner here} modify my N54 or M Division. Hmmmmm….let me think. 😉

  • JonPD

    I really love the new direction, I must admit I do still love bespoke engines but for this product I really look forward to seeing the mix of power and performance.

    Any chance you got a video of the car idling out of the trailer Gabe. If so would love to see it, if not can you tell us if they have addressed the mild sound we have been seeing out of the cars so far? Don’t get me wrong its not horrible but is lacking sounding quite right the last time I heard it.

  • Drill

    So now I’m left wondering what about this engine will set it apart from that found in the Performance pack equipped 135i? (Don’t get me wrong, I know the PACKAGE will be different, just curious about the engine)

  • JonPD

    Very good Drill.

    For me personally there are three things that makes a ///M car.

    1. Handling/performance – something that I hope the 1M will set a new standard for the ///M

    2. Complete package – all items on the car handled to make it a fully tuned package.

    3. Power – I expect the car to offer a level of acceleration, braking, turning that separates it from the not ///M cars.

    What makes me a little concerned (still have hopes this will not be the case) is if the car is delivered with a engine that is very similar to cars such as the 135is that it will not really separate itself well from its non-M brethren. Last thing I would want is to feel compelled to take a brand new ///M car to a tuner as soon as I buy it to have them add the separation that was not provided.

    Still have tons of hope to see the 1M’s final stats.

  • adc

    So the only real problem is the HPFP. It’s been a thorn in many N54 owner’s side and it may turn a lot of people off.

  • Aruv

    Some “assumptions” based on what Scott26/27 said:

    “There was a Prototype with M-DCT built for evaluation alongside the manuals , unfortunately because this is a (for M) a very cost effective project the costs threatened to spiral out of control in terms for the inclusion of an M DCT. There is also the time factor running against. Had we done this earlier then we would have had the time to accomodate.”

    Here is the link where some of things BF said originated at:

    “Valvetronic was the main cause of the time delay but BMW have spent some time on this and are using the N55 as a basis for the next M3.”

  • mc

    Why is 1M and not M1?

  • The M1 is a reserved name for an iconic car BMW mad in 1978-81. New car is 1M, like X6M, Z4M, X5M

  • Aruv-Hate to shoot your idea of stuff originating elsewhere BUT go listen to an earlier Bimmercast (well before 1Addicts- maybe people report wht they hear?)where I clearly state that the N55 was not coming because of the valvetronic issues- several well placed sources said this.

    We love “Scott/Herr” but he is not the end all- remember that he said the 1M was coming from a photo shoot in the desert- yet we reported the at was being flown in from Garching. We were spot on.


  • To echo this I’m kinda blown away by people thinking were just taking info from other sites. We’ve been pretty much spot on through the years with new product details. It’s not like this info for the 1M is coming from a new source. And for God’s sake I was actually at the introduction and spoke with everyone (including Kay Segler) from M.

    And btw all you have to do is follow the thread to see our info appeared on BF appeared before Scott “confirmed” it. For instance here’s the comment that reiterated (with a time stamp) that we reported the manual only option before Scott confirmed it. I can break it down post by post if you really need to see more.

  • Agree with JonPD — I’m hoping this isn’t a car you immediately want to mod because the performance is not much more than the regular 135i, particularly because I already have that car. 🙂

    If this car is all about FEEL, I really hope they do something about the lag and pedal feel/throttle response. I’ve heard an uprated flywheel does a lot to help…

    Exhaust needs to sound really racy for this car to be the proper hooligan they’re claiming. PLEASE tell me they’ve addressed this. Tell Dr Kay to call Akrapovic.

  • Que

    An interesting point was mentioned above. Is it clear that this is a 1M or will it be labelled as a 135is? or could it be called the 135tt, which was a concept a few years ago. Regardless, this will be a solid ride. Not sure if they will make it faster accelerating than the legendary M3 from the factory.

  • Drill

    The official name for it is the BMW 1 Series M Coupe.

  • Micah

    As long as it pulls strongly to a redline of over 7K rpm without falling off a powerband cliff, I’ll be satisfied.

    For me, outright power is not so important, it’s overall feel of the steering, handling, shifting, braking., & engine…similar to what Gabe and Dr. Segler were discussing in their interview.

    Speaking of brakes, Gabe do you have any more details about caliper, rotor, and cooling spec? From the photos the front rotors look to fill the wheels fairly well, which combined with adequate cooling is a good sign for my intended road & track use of the 1M.

  • JonPD

    Still displacement and hp really shines on the long straights. If I just wanted the steering, handling, shifting and brakes I would be satisfied with my GP alone heh.

    Brake ducts are one of my biggest hopes though.

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  • lava
    Brake ducts are one of my biggest hopes though

    Don’t you think you are already looking at the brake ducts in the exposed corner of the car?

  • Micah

    Almost for sure, as Gabe indicated previously one of the front bumper ducts routes to an oil cooler, but I’m sure there are brake cooling ducts integrated into the front clip design as well.

  • JonPD

    The exposed duct that is seen by the reveal looks to be a oil cooler. Saw some other images on 1addicts that you could see up there. I say I hope because they did manage to leave brake ducts off the M3.

  • JonPD

    Gabe I totally concur that you and Michael are amazingly spot on more often than not. Not ot mention even when you admit what you are saying is conjecture you guys seem to nail it more often than not. Scott is a great resource but I am glad to have more than one source still at the inner workings of BMW.

  • Micah

    Check the narrow more vertical opening on the edge of the front clip next to the larger duct. That could likley function as a brake duct.

  • lava

    yes – there are definitely two airways visible in what’s exposed.

  • JonPD

    Hoping that is the case. Would be good to see a port of this nature (coming from somebody who has had to pull birds from brake ducts before).

  • Unknown

    I would love to see the faces of all u ‘manual lovers’ once BMW offers this car in DCT. BMW rocks and they will do the right thing with this car.

  • JonPD

    If they do end up offering DCT not going to hurt me. I know other people need all sorts of other driving crutches ;).

    Still betting that BF is right on the manual only since adding DCT would add a chunk to the development costs.

  • Still betting that BF is right on the manual only since adding DCT would add a chunk to the development costs.

    I’m not even getting involved in the Manual vs DCT debate. All I can tell you is that if you want a DCT you won’t be getting the first generation 1M.

  • I don’t think people “get” this car. It is for a small market, it will be in limited quantity and for the most part it was designed to imitate the E30 ///M3 in current form- last time I checked there was not DCT then. Early on sources indicated that the DCT would come and I believed that take rate numbers would make it possible but when the full “feel” concept of this car began to be pushed it was apparent that a DCT does not promote feel or engagement. This car is not about ‘Ring times it is about feel and toss-ability. (We have a good grasp of these things here at BF and may or may not know more than we let on) I also think people will be a bit surprised when they realize that cost is important and that some proposed features were not carried over to the final product due to cost restraints- How much more is a CF trunk lid ?


  • chas58

    I think they are spot on from the descriptions. It is not some watered down SUV, or some car overweight with technology, it is pure and simple, a car with a playful personality, a pirate, a car for us!

    I for one am glad it doesn’t have a hand built engine. Affordability is important in my world (especially for an entry level M car). Certainly there is a lot of play room with the N54 for people who are not happy with “stock” power.

  • I also think people will be a bit surprised when they realize that cost is important and that some proposed features were not carried over to the final product due to cost restraints- How much more is a CF trunk lid?

    Michael – please tell me you’re not hinting at a steel roof instead of a carbon roof like the M3. I could live without a carbon trunk/duckbill, but would be really bummed if they dropped the roof.

  • plien69
    As long as it pulls strongly to a redline of over 7K rpm without falling off a powerband cliff, I’ll be satisfied.

    This, and the soft suspension are the biggest gaps between the 135i and an M-version of the 1, IMO.

  • I could live without a carbon trunk/duckbill, but would be really bummed if they dropped the roof.

    Remember M is song for a low price-point. Carbon Fiber (especially a roof) is very pricey. We’ll give up more info soon but don’t get your hopes up with too much CF.

  • Thanks Gabe… I’ll look forward to more info from you guys.

    (Sidenote: this has turned into a seriously good blog over the last couple years – I remember when you birthed it 🙂 – so just wanted to say congrats and thanks)

  • Sidenote: this has turned into a seriously good blog over the last couple years

    Thanks! We try to stick to the things that matter to us when writing – not just press releases for the latest X6 exhaust or something along those lines. Our hope is to create a purely enthusiast based site with actual opinions as well as interesting news. In short something we’d like to read on a daily basis.

  • JonPD

    No doubt about that Gabe, I know your at least as rabid about 1M details as the rest of us while trying to decide where your automotive future lays.

    Gabe can you share anything about the sound that you might have heard. Would be interesting if they have made any changes since the Ascari track videos.

  • engine45

    any idea on pricing ?

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