Here it is. The car that many of us have been waiting for since the 1 Series was first introduced. The M1 (sacrilegious as it might be, that ‘s what we ‘re going to call it until we hear otherwise) is quickly progressing from the early prototype phase to what we se above. The photos come courtesy of our friends at 1addicts and clearly show a car that has all the final bodywork complete with some additional plastic tacked on the front to hidea few final design details. Combine that with the trademark BMW swirls and the car is still relatively camouflaged despite wearing most of its final bodywork.

What ‘s Revealed?

With this latest crop of photos there are a few aspects of the design and engineering that have become more obvious. In fact the only area that is completely hidden from view still is the front. The front valance is completely shrouded by a plastic piece that, while matching the shape and giving us a glimpse and air intakes and brake ducts, gives nothing away in regards to design. The hood is also the standard version on this car. Will there eventually be a unique hood? We ‘ve heard from sources that the hood will be very similar to the current M3 ‘s sans hood bulge. Specifically that means two air intakes (although one will likely be there for symmetry. However it is interesting that this prototype doesn ‘t have any.

The car pictured here wears 18 ” versions of the 19 ” wheels found on the M3 GTS (also found on the M3 with the new Competition Package). Based on source the M1 will be offered with these wheels and another 18 ” model. The car will not be available with 19 ” wheels as the engineers at M found 18 “s to be the optimal size.

One thing you can ‘t miss is the width of the feeder flares. If you thought the standard 1 Series Coupe had flared fenders, the M1 should blow your mind. But there ‘s some reason for this new found aggressiveness beyond looks. For one M wanted to create more stability with the 1 Series platform. But perhaps more importantly they also wanted to leverage as much as the E90 M3 ‘s drivetrain components. That means the rear axle and the M3 ‘s trick mechanical differential will be carried over to a large degree in this car.

Looking around back it would appear that M will be going old-school with a rear/side mounted dual exhaust instead of the more modern quad exhaust seen on the all M cars from the E39 M5 onward. This will not only save weight but also cost and complexity. The 1er doesn ‘t have a lot of room in the rear and adding the M3 ‘s differential takes even more away. To us this is actually a nice step backwards to a simpler (and lighter) era of M engineering.

What ‘s in a Name?

It ‘s quite unclear what BMW will ultimately decided to call the new M model. There are some that are adamant that the M1 name will be resurrected. The argument is that the original M1 was rather removed from BMW products past and present and really has no relevance in regards to the current market (or marketing for that matter). Then there are those that believe we ‘ll see the car be called the 1M a la the X5 and X6 M. This subtle difference would indicate that this is not quite a true full-on M car like the M3 or M5. Finally there is the camp that believes this new model will be disappointingly called the 135is to go a long with all the other iS models recently introduced. The problem of course is that this car will be much more thoroughly reworked than the 335iS and we believe would be a de-service to it.

When Will it be Produced?

We believe the M1 will be introduced this fall at Paris in concept form and will bow in Geneva in final production trim (if not sooner). Production should start in late spring 2011 and reach dealers in the June time-frame.

Multiple sources are telling us that this will be a relatively limited production car for a niche market. In fact one source told us to think of the MINI JCW GP when thinking of this new 1er.

Full Gallery

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All photos courtesy of 1addicts