BF Exclusive: A Detailed Look at the 1M

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We ‘ve shown you the photos, video and offered you some bits if information. Now we ‘d like to take a step back and talk about all we know on the 1M. First let ‘s go back to the event itself. BMW NA graciously invited us to Road America and BMWCCA ‘s Oktoberfest to not only get a sneak pique at the new 1M but also to experience the reveal through the eyes of the largest BMW owners event in the world. It turned out to be a brilliant move. The energy inside the large tent at the introduction was electric and the car (or what was shown of it) couldn ‘t have been received better.

The Sound

After our interview with Dr. Kay Segler we were invited to head over to a deserted part of the Road America infield to get our first glimpse of the new 1M. The process to move the car off the enclosed trailer was actually a highlight for me as it was the only time that day the engine was actually fired. That ‘s when I knew two things. Yes this is a modified N54 and wow was the sound muted. Surely there ‘s work to be done in regards to electronics but there ‘s no question the sound wasn ‘t near as interesting as the V8 or the inline six in the last two generations of M3. While I ‘m sure M will make sure there ‘s ultimately some aural satisfaction from the exhaust and engine, I couldn ‘t help but be reminded of the X5M. And for those of you curious, yes I did record video but I was asked not to share it at this time.

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The Color(s)

According to several sources the color will be called Valencia Orange. Given the shade and M ‘s propensity to name colors after cities around the world, it makes a lot of sense. Name aside I have to admit to being disappointed upon seeing the metallic flake in the orange paint. Based on what we heard at launch, this is simply the GTS color with metallic flake embedded. Does it work? Surprisingly I think so. It ‘s a very rich and deep orange that looks as great in direct sun as well as under the lights. I can only imagine how good that orange looks draped over those wide rear fenders.

Based on the principle of limited production we ‘re guessing that M will likely offer the 1M in just a few colors. In fact this whole project has the feel of the MINI JCW GP which was produced with one color and no ability to customize your car with options. While we seriously doubt the 1M will be available in one color, we could see the range being very limited to Valencia Orange and a few classic M colors like Alpine White and perhaps the M exclusive Jerez Black. Of course that ‘s just informed speculation on our part but we ‘d be more than surprised to see a full palette offered.

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The Design

So far I can sum up the 1M in one word; aggressive. From what we have seen (admittedly not a lot) and know, it would appear that the designers at M have created something decidedly naughty looking. They ‘ve taken the M3 ‘s design language and pushed it even further. It was especially evident at the BMWCCA dinner under the lights (when Dr. Segler was rolled in the 1M for the official reveal).

M had to go beyond the already aggressive M Sport kit on the 135i and the classically proportioned BMW Performance kit available at dealers. While we can ‘t see much, what we can see clearly shows an aggressive design that combines the best attributes of both body kits to create something unique within BMW and M.

That ‘s what we can tell you based off of the pictures you see here. However we got to spend a good bit of time climbing around the car taking photos and noticed a few bulges that didn ‘t necessarily come through in the photos. On the sides it seems as if the new body kit takes the flares as seen on the E9X M3 and translates them into the smaller package of the 1er. The side mirrors are clearly taken straight from the M3 (one was slightly exposed for a very brief time in our pre-reveal that afternoon).

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Around back the rear bumper clearly features the same corner inlet that the front does along with some type of aggressive flaring around the exhausts.

The rear spoiler doesn ‘t seem as aggressive as the BMW Performance carbon fiber accessory and actually looked more inline with the stock unit on the 135i.

And what about the lights? One thing that has continued to confuse us is the E82 life-cycle. Because the E82 Coupe came about after the 3-5 five door hatchback got it ‘s LCI (mid life-cycle refresh) we ‘ve always wondered of the E82 was eventually due for it ‘s own refresh. Considering the off-set in the two body styles life-spans we believe there will be some type of very subtle LCI given the E82 and thus the 1M before it launches next year. With this update we expect the front and rear lighting to change but to occupy the same exact footprint on the car. In other words the shape front and back will not change (since M has already shown us the front bumper with the old headlights) but we expect updated LED lighting in the rear and potentially LED corona rings upfront. Worst case we ‘ll see an update similar to the E90 sedan with standard corona rings and LED front turn signals.

Inside we ‘re guessing changes will be very minimal along the lines of the E90 interior LCI – maybe even less. We know there will be new gauges (with grey faces) but beyond that we don ‘t expect much (if any) visual change.

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Pricing and Options

It may seem crazy given the technology in this car but we expect the 1M to sticker between $45-$47,000. Given the man at the top of M and his experience at MINI over the years, we expect more than passing similarity to the JCW GP program that MINI launched in 2006. The GP was produced in a quantity of 2000 worldwide (with 414 going to the US market). We wouldn ‘t be surprised to see numbers similar to this for the 1M.

And what about options? The GP had one color and no options available. We expect a few more for the 1M, but just a few. So given the limited product run, colors and options will likely be limited. In fact another example of options and color on a similar product would be the M3 CSL. The CSL was available in two colors and had just a couple of options. Yes we expect more in the way of options (and definitely accessories) but we wouldn ‘t be surprised to see color choices limited in a similar way.

Valencia Orange is a guarantee obviously. Other than that look for the classic M colors to also show up. Alpine White would be our first guess and perhaps M ‘s latest metallic black – Jerez. Beyond that we have no idea what if anything might be on the options list.

Time-Frame

We expect the full reveal early in 2011 at the Detroit auto show (but look for M to continue to strip tease from now until then). With the US likely being the largest market for the car, we fully expect M to save the full reveal for the North American soil. Look for production to start in Q1 (February is likely) and deliveries to start in March of 2011 with the US getting their first cars in April. However this is still a moving target.

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  • CCBiggs

    That price is very surprising. How much is a well-equipped 135 coupe right now? $45k or so, no?

  • Natextr

    If this thing really sells for less than 50k, I will place an order! Great write-up, I hope that they do what you anticipate re. colors, exhaust note and headlights. I only wish they would drop on a sweet coat of Inka on it.

  • JonPD

    Lots of promising things Gabe, I am hoping that the wizards at ///M do something with the sound. I have to say that the sound is one of the great experiences of a GP. I have money down on this car already holding a spot, just keep hoping that the end effect is the same family of experiences as a GP and it will surely be a worthwhile product. I would actually love it if they would stick with one unique color, this is one of the best things with the GP since it separates the car and yet leaves it feeling special. If they end up with similar production numbers as the GP I think they will sell out just as quick.

    I admit though that currently my toy buying fund are still on the fence between the 1M, E86 M, and a 996 GT2/3 Porsche. I am hoping that ///M is able to turn out this car leaving me knowing the smart money is on the 1M.

  • Status Kill

    I just don’t get it. BMW can dress up a 1er all they want, but it’s still a 1er. I LOATH this thing.

    For a few thousand more, I can get a REAL M-Car and not some pseudo M-car dressed up with an appearance package. It’s Still a 1er.

    Joe puoblic won’t care, IT’S a 1er, bottom of the barrel entry level bimmer. Hands down

  • Micah

    Will be curious to see the final color palette, and was really hoping for a non-metallic in an actual COLOR beyond the whites, greys, & blacks that have dominated the car market for the past 10 years. Inka orange would have been great, in addition to a lighter non-metallic blue (e.g., similar to that on the Lotus Club Racer), which IMO would look great with the aggressive flared design of the 1M, combined with some black accents.

    Having said that, there are several attributes beyond exterior color that will seal the deal for me. As discussed at length on BF & other forums, there at least seems to be enthusiast agreement about there desired characteristics:

    1. overall feel — steering, gearshift, pedals, handling, nimble “tossable” feel in transitional responses

    2. freely revving motor with positive throttle response that pulls up & through a redline over 7K RPM

    3. fade-free brakes with sufficient thermal capacity to handle hard/repeated use on a track or twisty road
  • JonPD

    Much rather have a back to basics than a tour de force of technical wizardry that goes into making massively obese X M’s personally. If I wanted techno-gizmo aided performance I would buy a Nissan, I don’t think I am alone either in congratulating ///M on honestly looking at their past and figuring out what has been lost with the ///M brand.

  • Krell

    The author of this article is blowing the excitement/anticipation level of the audience at O-Fest way out of proportion. I spent four days at the event, on track, walking the paddock, at the dinner at the Osthoff, and not a single person said a peep about the reveal, either before or after. Did people stand up and inch forward when the car was rolled in at dinner? Absolutely, but it was a tent filled with BMW owners, loyal to the brand. Any car would have garnered such a reaction.

    Certainly there are people excited about this car, with the admins of this website leading the fanboy sentiment. But let’s report the events at O-Fest accurately.

  • Chris

    They can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.

    I wouldn’t be caught dead in this ugly little clown car.

  • I’m slowly feeling the air come out of this balloon, but I have to blame myself first and foremost for hyping the 1M to mythical status in my head. Grand delusions of what it could be I guess. It’s still on my shortlist, but now I find myself uncomfortable with the idea of handing over $47K on a car I’d likely not get to testdrive because of the limited production. And, because I already have an ’08 N54 equipped 135i, I’m not sure this car is going to be enough of a difference to make me want another 1. Surely it’s a much better car, but it’s quite similar to the 1 I already have. The non-bespoke engine is a bummer, but if they ALSO leave off the carbon roof and this thing sounds like my car (a weedwacker) then I’m out.

    Arrgh, maybe it’s the rain here in the NW that took the wind out of my sails today. Stellar reporting as usual BimmerFile. I guess we’ll see in December…

  • Micah

    @Primo135 – Like you I will not pay $47K for a car we cannot first test drive. If dealers are going to be hard asses about it, as BMW dealers can often be if they do not perceive you to be sufficiently wealthy, then I’m out too. We cannot evaluate how the car feels otherwise…

  • Sargetony

    I have to say that I am excited and disappointed at the same time. It sounds as if this is going to be just like any other N54 powered 135i, of which I already own one. I had hoped this would be more or less a mini-M3, but it sounds as if it is really the same 135i that I already have with some cosmetic changes, i.e. bigger wheels and flares. With the aftermarket pushing the N54 in the 135i well over 450+ horsepower, I had hoped to see more than I expect we will (the current news is 350). Granted, we will see some things such as suspension, etc. But I, for one, had hoped for more. I hope that as they reveal more that we get to see some of these improvements.

    @Status Kill – just remember while you bash the 1er, that until 2008, the 3-Series was the “bottom of the barrel entry level bimmer. Hands down”

    I am extremely happy with my 135i, traded in a 330Ci for it.

    I am just worried that, with the low production numbers, this will be more of a “collectors car” rather than an enthusiasts car. Especially with everything coming from the BMW and //M Parts Bins.

  • JonPD

    I would not sweat it guys, speaking from experience with the GP. Its not about finding perfection as much as its is finding something that puts a grin on your face. With the very few numbers coming to the states its likely to be a non-issue as they will all be snapped up long before any are drivable.

  • adc

    First of all, I expect many dealers to receive demonstrator cars that they cannot sell for awhile – that’s how it was for both the E46 M3 and E9x M3. BMW wants to attract young buyers for this car and that will not be possible without a test drive, so don’t worry about it.

    And secondly, while I do deplore the lack of a bespoke M engine, we should wait and see how the car drives before passing judgement. Who cares about how much power you can get out of a 135i, or how much status points you are earning at the Starbucks Saturday morning meet? Let’s see how it DRIVES.

    I’ll definitely say this – if BMW didn’t get it right, there will be a lot of disappointed people out there.

  • JonPD

    Guess that all depends on how many are going to be build and how many brought to the states. From what Gabe and Michael said their is likely to be something like the initial delivery program that they did for the MINI GP. If so I would expect a handful of people would have the car first followed by a few examples at various dealers that are not purchased yet. If they do this type of an event I am likely to get mine there as I missed the GP presentation and will not do that again.

  • Micah

    @adc – x2 echoing your comments about the importance of how the 1M drives & feels, & I certainly hope there are demonstrator cars for us to drive on something other than your usual access road-onramp-short highway section test drive

  • Leif W.

    So will this only be produced for 1 year?

    Leif W

  • Just to remind some people calling us fanbois- We ran a story the morning of the launch questioning whether this car could ever live up to the hype- until we drive it we don’t know but the concept gets us excited.

    Here is a refresher if interested Eleanor or Hype

  • Joe

    Dr. Segler really knows hot to orchestrate this entire thing and build the buzz like nobody else. Amazing.

  • chas58

    Thank god BMW doesn’t only listen to the people who want more HP, or bragging rights with a “real ///M” car. I think they are doing all the right things with this car; but we will see how it drives. If you want bragging rights, there are plenty more choices; the people who ‘get it’ will be happy to have this car.

  • JonPD

    True chas58, just like the people that I snickered at that bought the frozen gray cars. At least if you buying something at a premion I would prefer for it to affect the performance stats of the car. Then again they had no issues selling he Frozen Gray cars. Just goes to prove they could likely just as easily sell these even with the unique color alone. Still I think the lack of a bespoke engine is quite counter to much of everything ///M stands for personally.

  • PNRCOMPS

    I really hope they offer the DCT in this car, it needs this option, the 135i is totally sweet with this trans and I would expect no less in the 1 Series M coupe. 350-375hp and the DCT would make for an incredible car with the handling it should have!

  • Status Kill

    3 Series, Bottom of ther Barrel that was C&D ten best for the better part of 20 years.

    It’s the bar that all other brands strive for. Granted I’ve outgrown it and will be getting an X6 next, I’ll always look fondly back at my time owning a 3er (not leasing like the lot of you).

    The 1er was just a shot at those that couldn’t afford a “real” Bimmer and the 1er wannabe M is the same thing. Hope you all enjoy it.

  • Joe C

    Hey, it was just a matter of time before we got the trolls that Inhabit all of the other forms on this one. Yeah, the ones that think that the only REAL bimmer, Porsche, etc, is the heaviest, most expensive one. They just don’t get it. If you’re not a true enthusiast get the f out.

    Owning vs leasing? What kind of psychotic thought is that? I own my 911C2S, my buddy leases a GT3.

  • woohoo

    He leased it because he couldn’t afford it!! As will the ones getting the faux- 1M

  • 1Mc

    There’s only a small handful of trolls around the net trying to hate on the 1M. I suspect Audi TTRS trolls scared that the 1M is BMW’s answer to the enthusiast segment complaints.

    There really isn’t much choice for an enthusiast if you like BMW cars. You have to hop over and buy a Cayman S (no back seats), or go TTRS (better on the seating, but it’s an Audi). You can get an M3, but it’s a big car.

    Lots of people who have 3,5,7 series, Porsche etc lease their cars. Makes sense actually if you only keep a car 1 or 2 years. I usually keep a car 3 years so I buy them. But I really should have leased my current car as I want to change it after what will be only 15 or 16 months due to the 1M coming out.

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