BimmerFile Design Analysis: The BMW 1M

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.

Full Gallery

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World Debut: BMW 1M Detailed & Dissected

BF Design Analysis: The BMW 1M

BimmerCast #40: The 1M Show

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  • mellowmcs

    vulgarity… I like that 🙂

    As an owner of the original M Coupe, vulgarity describes the M Coupe and 1M very well.

  • Dylan

    Fantastic write up. The car is amazing. How could any BMW fan not want to own one of these.

  • Dylan

    The US vs NZ price still makes me sad. US$45k is NZ$60k. I paid NZ$55k for my R56 Mini. The 135i is just over NZ$100k. I think New Zealanders will pay 2x more for this car than US customers…not exactly the “entry level” M car it will be touted in other markets. Sad

  • Dewey

    Definitely love this car. Hard to believe that it’s only $3k more than my 135i, I don’t care who you are, that’s value! I certainly know what will replace my 135i!

  • Mozza

    I didn’t expect to want one but I do. I really really do. In white preferably.

  • JonPD

    Great job again Gabe, you have a knack with your reviews.

    So much to love about this car and its the most excited I’ve been about any BMW for a long while.

  • JonPD

    So if the motor came in at 335 isn’t that the exact same motor that is in the Z3 35is? We get an additional 1k top end rpm over the 35is motor but no increase in power? To me this looks like the just bumped the top end RPM on a standard 35is motor and put a ///M badge on the engine cover. I have to guess the 4.7 is conservative since they say the 35is has a 4.8 and is 253lbs heavier.

    Not bashing the car but honestly feel the motor is needing some immediate aftermarket tuning.

  • So if the motor came in at 335 isn’t that the exact same motor that is in the Z3 35is? We get an additional 1k top end rpm over the 35is motor but no increase in power? To me this looks like the just bumped the top end RPM on a standard 35is motor and put a ///M badge on the engine cover. I have to guess the 4.7 is conservative since they say the 35is has a 4.8 and is 253lbs heavier.

    We’ll have more on this engine soon.


    Also looking forward to seeing it in person, along with the other colors as well.

  • Micah

    Couple specs about the engine that do not bode well for it’s “rev ability”: it’s an undersquare design with larger stroke than bore, and massive torque starts very low in rev range & tails off after 4500rpm. Get the sense that the 1M is going to more about the chassis and less about the engine, almost a reversal of the typical M product.

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  • lava

    I don’t know if its photoshop magic, but the droopy line along the bottom of the door seems somehow suppressed in these images. Perhaps its the blend into the rear flare, but it feels better than the standard coupe.

  • chad

    @ Gabe. In previous posts and bimmercasts, you had put forward the question of E46 M3 vs. 1M for a potential purchase. Any comments in that regard now that the full reveal has occured?

    I am not trying to stir the pot, but this article is so positive I wonder if you mind (which seemed focused on the E46 M3 previously) may have been changed a bit?

  • @ Gabe. In previous posts and bimmercasts, you had put forward the question of E46 M3 vs. 1M for a potential purchase. Any comments in that regard now that the full reveal has occured?

    I think it’s still very much open for debate. If you wanted, I could write a similarly positive design analysis of the E46 M3. But I will say the 1M just got more interesting.

  • goat

    Love how the 1M came out… and the price seems very very fair too!

  • Micah

    If you go to BMW int’l website you can see 3 color choices in 360 view. As Gabe mentioned in the podcast, it’s really a shame they metalized the orange, would love much better in a non-metallic like Inka. Based on the online renderings, Alpine White may look best IMO…the non-metallic finish adds to aggressive appearance & offsets the black accents nicely.

  • krell

    I don’t get it. They gussied up an already ugly car with the E92 front end, wheels, and brakes, tweaked the engine a bit and this is the second coming? This car has almost nothing on the E46 M3, a car that is 10 years old and still turns head to this day both in the looks and peformance departments.

    IMO, start saving your money for the next M3 instead.

  • Natextr

    @Krell, The 1M is going to be a collectors car. Period. If you are going to buy an M3, buy an E90/91 with the last V8 we’ll ever see in a 3er.

    As for the 1M,if I could, I’d buy two. One to drive and one to store so that in 25 years, I could sell it and pay myself back for the purchase of both. This is a car that people will kick themselves for NOT buying…

  • NK

    Krell, I am delighted to see somebody who is for a change is in agreement with me. I find it slightly irritating how this car’s description always includes associations with “e30 m3”. Let’s make a few important points that we all should keep in mind.

    1. E30 M3 was a homologation special, while 1m is a marketing special.

    2. E30 M3 was a limited production vehicle with a purpose (see 1). 1m is likely to get stamped in as many examples as they will be able to sell

    3. What made the E30 M3 so special as it relates to the other E30s is its heart, the engine. 1m is a pimped out 135i. It’s amazing how quickly you can get used to a specific engine response and make that a baseline. While I drove my ex-335i in the winter I thought it’s fine only to realize how unresponsive the N54 really is in relation to the S14 which I drive in the summer.

    1m would make a PERFECT car for track once it hits the used car market, but I was hoping for a bit more.

  • mellowmcs

    Natextr, I agree with you. I can see this car becoming like the E36 M3 LTW in terms of people wanting one after production stops.

    Actually I kind of hope it will also be like the LTW in terms of sales. Some people got nearly 8K off LTW that sat in dealer lots for a year or more!

    NK while the e30 m3 wasn’t a limited production vehicle. Once sales took off BMW made wayyyyy more than they originally said they were going to make.

    Also I still fail to see why people keep insisting that if the engine is bespoke it can’t be a M car. When did the definition of a M car change to, must have bespoke engine. I’ve always seen M to be a complete package. Luxury, performance (handling and power), economical… well okay not so much on economical but they are well priced for a proper BMW.

  • Micah

    Another engine tidbit from the interview w/ the chassis engineer Jurgen Schwenker, as published in the first offical brochure- dual mass flywheel has been lightened, which should help it rev a bit more freely.

  • Bimmer1

    The orange color is hideous. It reminds me of 50% of the base model Chevy’s/GM’s sold in the mid-late 90’s. Just aweful. They should have included a historic motorsport color like Interlagos, Laguna, or the same orange on the M3 GTS/Crappy Japanese Tiger edition cars. Not sure if the latter is Inka or not, but if it isn’t it should have been. Still better than this metallic orange on the 1. But whatever, I’m going with Alpine and going to do a throwback to the 2002 tii graphics, sort of like the Jonsibal rendering of the 1M CSL.


    I second the M coupe Vulgarity comment appropriateness!

    Bimmer1, that will look great. When the 135 first came out that was my plan if I bought one.