More 1M Thoughts from Recent Fan Test Drives

1Addicts memdber (and CCA driving instructor) M3 Adjuster just posted a recap of his experience with the 1M at the recent fan drives in Germany. Let ‘s get right into some of the juicier bits:

We set off from the factory, and drove directly to the Autobahn! Large rooster tails formed due to the rain, however we still moved along at over 150 kph.. Taking advantage of being the trailing car, I once dropped back and got a good clean run up to 180 kph (110 mph). The engine exhaust note inside the car was wonderful, nearly rivaling the interior sound of the E92 M3. Acceleration was brisk, and in third gear, there was no flat spot or tailing off, and a shift to fourth placed the car in the center of the power band for continued acceleration. The first thing that I noticed was that under powerful acceleration, the 1M does not have the floaty sensation at the front end that I have experienced in the 135/ 335. At the rear of the car, the car had plenty of grip under acceleration, unless one, say… rounded a corner in second, and simply mashed the throttle. Such churlish man-handling in the wet resulted in wheelspin at the rear, with the side stepping smartly sideways before the DSC kicked in to save the day. And by save the day…. I mean just that…. On track or on road, the DSC never killed the party like it does in the E36 M3.. when the DSC kicked in, I ‘d say it was definitely needed! We turned onto some local roads which went from smooth to eventual cobblestone. While the cobblestone part was excessively bumpy, the ride was still rather good!

At the factory, we then went to a test track. The test track is a large oval with a significant kink in one side. The two ends of the oval are second gear corners with banking and Armco at the edge. The back straight is long and straight, and the front straight has a gentle bend that places it parallel to the back straight for most of it ‘s length, however negotiating the same bend at speed at the end of the straight is rather tricky. It ‘s reminiscent of bends mid way down the straight at tracks like Road Atlanta, Mid Ohio, and Road America in the US. At this point it was simply I and another participant in our car, and, being two of the more aggressive drivers in our group, we again employed the drop back method. We each attained speeds of 220 kph on the back straight, which required dropping to second gear exiting the curve, and then flat out full power acceleration out of the corner down the straight. The DSC kicked in at the top of second while launching off the corner, then up through the gears to the top of fourth gear. I once touched nearly 230 kph, which meant negotiating the bend at over 200 kph… in the WET.. with it actively raining. The car simply felt rock stable throughout and under braking at the end of the long straight, I waited as late as possible and each time hauling the car down I never reached so far as to activate ABS, but made clean, nearly effortless stops. During the last lap, I did late brake into the corner, provoking under-steer, but as I got into the corner was able to turn in smartly and use a slight lift of the throttle to bring the rear around…..all without DSC interfering…. While I didn ‘t know the conversion to mph, I knew I had just driven nearly as fast I had ever gone on track, in the RAIN, and not even in my own car. Later at dinner, someone calculated that 220kph was 135+….

My next runs through I concentrated on transitioning and seat of the pants feel and flew through the cones, pushing aggressively, feeling my own smile get wider and wider as I did a second, a third, and then a fourth lap through the slalom… It was now getting on to about 5pm and getting dark outside. One of the engineers then took the wheel and I and another participant hopped in the back seat for some wheel spinning drifting, opposite lock u turns, and an intentional ” tank slapper ” that had us being thrown about the rear of the car like rag dolls. That ‘s not something one will ever do with an E30! Other than being hugely fun, it again highlighted the phenomenal amount of grip from the chassis and the tires. I took note of the sizes… a massive 265/35/19 at the rear, and 245/35/19 at the front… aah.. yes… the familiar staggered setup that has been prevalent among BMWs in the last several decades. so as to create safe, predictable understeer. Perhaps in the aftermarket a balanced setup can be fitted to the car to really make it neutral..

From the skid pad, we were then taken into a large room in the back of the factory…. There.. under a cover stood a car… and without a great amount of fanfare, the cover was removed so we could see the car in all it ‘s glory…. Valencia orange…. no CF roof… but then again… not surprpising…. In the past, the US M Brand Manager Larry Koch explained to me that the US federalization process would require testing both a CF and non CF version, which is why the E90 comes in CF roof only… no sunroof option on the 2 door model, so no surprise that in a car in the middle of the life cycle that there were no trick new body panels… However… the overall look of the car is completely badass.. Large air ducts at the front for brake cooling…. not X5 M/X6M huge but very well proportioned…. the massively flared rear quarters with those big tires in the rear… . the side mirrors have two-tone openings in them for air flow ala the E36 and E92 M3… The dash is vintage M with red pointers on the dials and a precisely placed M logo…. and of course on the rear a single //M logo….

From our conversations with the M personnel, the weight distribution is 50/50… power at approximately 340 hp (primarily from uprated tolerances and revised ECU mapping) and with a curb weight that will be under 1500 kilos (3300 lbs) this puts the car in the range of the E36 curb weight… with a lot more tire and a great deal more power….. Is this car going to replace the E30 M3… perhaps not.. but it also outperforms the E30 M3 in many ways while also being reminiscent of the E30 M3 in size, and handling. In my mind…. Dr. Kay has indeed delivered a car that IS the full package… it is ” M Pure “… easily worthy of the M logos it wears. I wish I could come up with negatives for this car, but to be simply honest, it simply exceeded all my expectations… I went to Leipzig expecting a hit… but instead found a car that is an absolute HOME RUN. Can it be equaled or bettered in the aftermarket by modifying a 135? Probably so…. but such a car will never have the cachet of an M car…nor the resale value… nor will it be the first 1M…. which in time… may prove to be as respected as the E30 M3.

Nothing new in the details but we love this write-up. And from a seasoned driving instructor it holds a different and in fact special kind of weight over the previous reviews we ‘ve read. Needless to say if you are interested in this car you may want to make sure you ‘re on a list somewhere.

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  • goat

    Good review… and by someone with an excellent track/autocross/instructing CV no less. This is going to be some car!