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.