BF Garage: Six Months in the 1M

Windows down, sun in my face and the lake off to my left. This is how to properly wake an M car from the typical Chicago winter hibernation. Yet there was a problem this year. Winter almost never came. Instead we got a few cold snowy days (during which the 1M was tucked as far back in the garage as possible) and (what I refer to as) a smattering of clean pavement 40+ degree “opportunities “. Those opportunities have allowed me to never be away from the 1M for more than a couple weeks at a time. And they also allowed me to tack on more mileage – now up to 3,500.

One of the realizations that ‘s dawned on me is that the lack of grip that comes in cold weather is hugely entertaining. You can always steer the 1M with the throttle. But in 40 degree temps it becomes a more common practice. I do it one-handed while sipping a coffee, holding a conference call (via bluetooth) or even into my driveway. If the 1M wants to rotate on a hot track, imagine what it ‘s like on cold pavement. And perhaps the best part? It ‘s all with DSC turned on. During our first review of the car we talked about the 1M ‘s MDM mode featuring M ‘s most aggressive programing to date. On the track that means speed and time. But on the road is means tail-out action without the worry of over-committing. The 1M ‘s unique version of MDM lets you almost break the laws of physics before it subtly reins you back. And with the short wheelbase, enormous torque and quick steering ratio, I can ‘t think of a more deserving M car for it.

When I ‘m not exploring the limits of M ‘s programming, I ‘m at the pump. The 1M has some of the biggest attachments of any M car I ‘ve ever driven yet the smallest tank. While the fuel economy isn ‘t as respectable as you ‘d expect with an inline six (I ‘m averaging around 18 mpg in the city) the issue is the size of the fuel tank in the tightly packed E82 chassis. The result is a range of around 225 miles and an intimate knowledge of the neighborhood gas stations. An unfortunate by-product of putting a high performance engine in a small car primarily designed for 120 hp four cylinders.

With winter over, the 1M recently had the ceremonial first hand wash and wax of the season. There is no better way to get to know a car than by gently caressing it ‘s flanks with hand applied Zymol wax. The 19 ” wheels are a chore to clean but well worth the effort. Inside, the alcantara is wearing well considering it ‘s had little to no human contact since rolling off the factory line. The wheel and shifter are just starting to pick-up a hint of patina. For the E46 ZHP derived shift-knob this is a plus. But I ‘ll miss the feel of the buttery smooth virgin leather M steering wheel as it ages.

With 3,500 miles on the odometer my thoughts are slowly turning to a couple of modifications. With the OEM + philosophy I ‘m reluctant to do anything drastic or not inline with the original intentions of the car. That said I ‘ve got my eyes on two mods; adding the N55 mid-pipe (good for more power and better sound) and a software upgrade of some kind. The latter is probably worth holding out for as the aftermarket continues to tune and refine the 1M ‘s code. The mid-pipe however seems like an absolute no-brainer and it ‘ll give me an excuse to get under the car and have a look around.

After six months since taking delivery the 1M has lived up to my own personal massive hype. It ‘s proven itself a worthy daily driver that can inject enormous fun into every situation. It also has been utterly trouble free with not a single rattle or concern. But above all it ‘s still utterly special. Even living in Chicago, seeing another is a rare treat. As someone who waited for years at the top of a very lonely and at times a seemingly pointless wait list, that ‘s pretty heart-warming.

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  • Frank Granados

    While I like the 1 series in person, I just don’t like the look of the front end and rather high side shoulders of this car. I’ll wait for a redesign of this model, and while at it, I think BMW should bring the 5 door versions to North America (I have seen one running around my neck of the woods) at it is a far more practical car than the coupe body style sold here.

    Nice review and enjoy the car.

  • Anonymous

    Nice Gabe, sounds like you are enjoying the little whip. Wish the M3 could see that range. I was thinking of putting a small oil rig and refinery in the back yard just to keep the beast’s thirst quenched. 

    How is the ride with the 19s and PS2s-? While not as harsh as run flats I am sure it is not soft but hopefully not filling loosening!

    • Thank God M cars don’t have run flats 🙂

      Actually it rides better than some BMWs equipped with 18″ run flats I’ve driven.

      • sackboy

        Good write-up ! Agree to all points-but- Im getting about19.8mpg avrg. !  Does this mean I aint PLAYIN` hard enough??    sackboy

  • chad

    you sound geniunely satisified with your car, this is outstanding to hear. i think the delayed gratification of it all, whether that be the long wait for production or simply waiting for those winter driving oppotunities, certainly adds to enjoyment and appreciation. i like the idea of driving a great car, even as a daily driver, and it feeling like an occasion each time you hop in. this sense of occasion is how i describe being truly satisfied with a car. i hope this never fades.

  • buckeyegirl

    It really does have a small tank doesn’t it.  Everything else is perfect! I agree with you that the car just feels special.  When I hit the M button and it feels like it becomes slippery or like weighted blankets lift, something about that makes my heart beat a little faster every time!

  • goat

    I logged on this afternoon because over the lunch break a VO 1M drove by going opposite direction in traffic. As noted before, it is unmistakably different (better) than a 135i even when you see it for only a couple of seconds at speed. The VO looks dated already, IMO but colour is personal of course. Great car Gabe… hang onto it! 

  • Andrew Popoola

    “There’s no better way to get to know a car than by gently caressing it’s flanks with hand applied Zymol wax” I tried explaining this to some people, they responded with blank stares.  It is good t hear this from another car guy.  

    Excellent write up.

    On a slightly different note, I found this story out of Egypt…think you will be intrigued.

    http://carscoop.blogspot.com/2012/03/egyptian-refuses-to-pay-150000-for-bmw.html