The 1M vs the M135i has already played out on this site and others. In short the M135i is a great BMW but the 1M is a great M car. Not surprising given what the M135i was meant to be compared to the outrageous 1M. But the question we’ve been wrestling with for awhile now still seems relevant; can BMW truly follow-up the fastest small BMW ever? On the face of it you’d expect it would be easy. The 1M was created over late-night beers (or rum depending on who you talk to) and then designed and engineered at break-neck speed outside the norms of the typical BMW M process. The results felt very different than any M car ever created and was nothing less than a revelation to the motoring press.
On the face of it, BMW should have no trouble re-creating that magic formula given they’ve done it once and have such cars as the Z3 M Coupe and the E30 M3 under their belts. Furthermore the next 1M (likely called the M2) will surely be a little lighter and more technologically advanced. It may even have similar power with two less cylinders. However there are some crucial differences that hint at a different sort of car.
According to sources it will be created from the out-set as a car to be sold in much higher quantities. That means an optional DCT (along with a manual) as well as a host of options never available on the 1M. It will also likely be
saddled equipped with electronic power steering similar to the next generation M3/M4. Finally it will surely follow all the normal testing procedures and development processes that have created all other modern M cars. That last point is a little esoteric but it could be a key difference between the 1M and anything that follows it up.
The 1M was an out-lier as they say. A car created outside the norms that gave us the current M5, M6 and even the E92 M3. All cars technically better than the 1M but cars that also feel substantially different. They have more ability, more grip and more comfort. But ultimately lack a visceral quality that the 1M has in spades.
As we learned over the past two years in talking with sources at BMW M, the people behind the 1M simply created something they wanted to own. That’s a very different perspective than someone creating a car that is meant for an executive to drive it from the board meeting to the track (hello M5) or what they think consumer research tells them should be the next M3. Simply put, the spirit behind the 1M came from people who felt it, knew it and wanted it themselves.
Will the typical BMW and M product development process rob the M2 of this? Nevermind that it’ll be much more common – that matters little to us. What matters is how it feels. What kind of personality it will have. And will we want to do bad things to get one.
Here’s to hoping that the M2 is as much an outlier as the 1M was.