Take a second to look at the photo above. More specifically look at it from rear to front focusing on the c pillar. Then move to the huge rear flanks. Now have your eyes follow the pronounced belt-line all the way to the purposeful face. What you see above all else is attitude with healthy doses of 2002 Turbo or Alfa GTA thrown in for good measure. It all serves to conjure memories of simpler time. A time when performance cars were measured by fender buldges, number of gears in their manuals and feel was as important as track times.
It ‘s clear that the designers at BMW M had one overriding goal in mind with the 1M; to create a classic M car with an attitude often lost in the modern automotive world. From the impossibly flared rear fenders to the gills and vents upfront, the 1M exudes the feeling of punk rock. It is unashamed in purpose and attitude. In fact no car since the original M Coupe has had this much vulgarity in the BMW line-up. The rear flanks (viewed from behind) might as well be a couple of giant middle fingers to anyone behind.
We haven ‘t driven the car yet but from all accounts this attitude is paid off not only in the styling but in the very soul of the 1M. Brakes, suspension and differential from the M3. An N54 massaged by the masters at M. It makes for something compelling even if just on paper.
BMW M Designers have carried this purposeful feel into the cockpit with enough alacantara to raise the eyebrows of a misguided animal rights activist (don ‘t worry, only synthetic cows were harmed). But it ‘s all done so smartly. There are no wear concerns since it ‘s relegated to the instrument housing, dash trim, doors and shift and brake boots. The seats and steering wheel (thankfully for 2nd hand owners) remain 100% leather.
M then turned their attention to the speedometer and rev counter which receive the grey treatment (ala the CSL) and are completed with red pointers and white backlighting.
Finishing off the motorsport inspired look is the orange stitching that will surely become the calling card of the 1M. They know how to push our buttons don ‘t they?
It ‘s dark. It ‘s purposeful. And it comes in any color you want as long as it ‘s black.
Negatives? Honestly it ‘s hard to conjure them up without resorting to hitting below the belt. Yes the “sow ” line of the 1 Series is still there on the doors. But we couldn ‘t expect M to replace the doors given the price-point ($45k-ish) that M was aiming for.
But if i ‘m pressed there is one area that feels like it could have used some attention. The rear decklid on the standard 135i is actually quite aggressive. So you ‘d expect the 1M to push the envelope a good deal more and perhaps make the carbon fiber spoiler standard. Or better yet a full-on CLS style duck-tail. But unfortunately nothing of the like is present. If you could point to one area of cost cutting this may perhaps be it. Instead 1M owners will have to look to the BMW Performance catalog to quite literally finish things off.
Another area the (slightly) disappointed is the Valencia Orange being metallic. I ‘ve said it before on MotoringFile and I ‘ll say it again, Orange needs to be non-metallic. Anything else ends up looking like a dreamsicle or too bronze-like. Either choice can ‘t quite hold up a candle to the classic Inka Orange from the 2002 days. But of course this can be aleviated by choosing either one of the two other shades: Alpine White or Sapphire Black Metallic.
In our minds the 1M is a homerun. And in a way I ‘m surprised how much I like it. I ‘m not one to dislike the current 1 Series Coupe but at the same time I can ‘t call it much more than “serviceable ” in the design department. But the 1M takes on a much more radical feel. The attitude introduced overcomes the donor platform and in turn creates something unique and decidedly more focused. More M-like in fact.
In the end you can ‘t help but wonder if the car succeeds because the designers and engineers didn ‘t have enough time to do anything but go with their gut. The result is a car created by people who loved the E30 M3 and for people who want a modern day E30 M3.
Above all else it ‘s a car that allows the M Division to fly the pirate flag once again within BMW and in some ways the automotive world. And it all sort of makes sense considering the code name for the 1M is Pyrat. A name inspired by late nights creating the car followed up by later nights drinking Pyrat Rum.
Marketing. Consumer research. A constant need for market-share. They ‘ve each worked to watered down what we all love about cars over years. The 1M is a shot across the bow of all of it.