Last month we brought you Chris Harris ‘ video review of the 1M. Today we have the written companion piece from EVO.com. But we have to warn you. If you are tired of people heaping praise on the 1M stop right here. Because this above all reviews we ‘ve read is the most detailed, well articulated and (above all else) positive.
We ‘ve made no secret are admiration for Harris in the past. He ‘s an E28 M5 owner and a former owner of several M3s (including a E92). He knows the brand and (perhaps more importantly) knows that sometimes the most successful M cars aren ‘t always the latest.
So with that said, let ‘s take a look at a few excerpts starting with the way he begins the review:
>There isn’t another car I want to be my everyday companion in 2011 as much as a new 1-series M Coupe. The car I drove wasn’t the finished item, the pricing has yet to be fixed and there are a few areas of criticism, but overall nothing that stops me badly wanting one of these things. Indeed, the reaction I felt quite strongly after a brief 15-minute drive was one of need as opposed to simple appraisal: I didn’t come away immediately placing the car against its peers – I shut the door, looked at the almost cartoonish rear-axle width, recalled the performance and thought: that’s a bit of me, that is. I’m not sure I ever felt that way about my E92 M3.
That ‘s pretty definitive praise. Chris goes on to talk about what I wrote about recently in our design review of the car; the sacred ratio between tire, wheel arch and stance that makes an M car look like an M car. And of course the vulgarity of those haunches.
>Does it look like an M car? Undoubtedly. In fact it has the best stance – and by stance I mean the brilliantly resolved relationship between wheel, wheelarch, camber, ride-height and track-width that defines a proper M car – of anything the company has produced since the E46 CSL, which is fitting because the wheels are the same. The pictures simply don’t to it justice; in the raw, the rear of this car is plain rude. To accommodate the E92 M3’s rear axle, it is now 80mm wider across the hips. It never fails to amaze me just how positive an impact added width and reduced ride-height can have on a shape: this car now has undeniable, decidedly aggressive appeal.
Then he moves onto the engine and the much debated use of an N54 rather than a full-on M motor.
>It doesn’t make much noise on start-up. You push the familiar button and the twin-turbo six fires with a suggestive blurt, but from the moment that first soupçon of unleaded ignites, you fear that the muffling effects of forced induction may cloud your overall judgement of the car. For me, it is not impossible for a turbocharged M car to be the real deal – excluding the X6M and X5M, which are both reprehensible buckets of slurry. But the electric rasp of induction noise that floods through the dashboard in an M3 or an M5 is notable for its absence here.
>Engine idling, you prod the throttle a few millimetres just to see how much sharpness they’ve managed to build into the car. This is one of the key differences between an M3 and a 335i: despite there being no mechanical connection between the accelerator pedal and the throttles, on the real deal the operation still feels more direct. The springing is harder. This car straddles the two camps, which isn’t a bad thing.
>It immediately feels like a very fast car: pin it in second and the initial thrust is V8 M3-strong. It keeps pulling hard in the mid-range, and only when the rev-counter shows around 6000rpm does the shove subside. The first time it did this, a little bit of me was disappointed, but then I began to explore the flexibility of this impressive engine and, honestly, I didn’t give its inability to smear itself against a 9000rpm rev-limiter a second thought. This car has immense real-world performance, in fact judged by that most important of criterion, Net Available Performance, I reckon it’s as fast an M3. >In third gear, it’ll pull from 750rpm, feels strong by 2000rpm and will tear strips off most other tackle from there to six grand. Crucially, it likes to hold on to gears: from a balanced throttle in any gear, the response is very good, certainly sharper than in a 135i, and at times it is very hard to spot the turbochargers in operation. That other telling indicator of a world-class turbo installation: the ability to match engine and gear speed on downshifts without even accounting for a puffer is certainly in effect here. Oddly, I found it easier than an M3 in this respect.
But what about steering. With the 1M using the same rack as the 135i there have been concerns about a lack of subtly and feel that M cars have.
>The 1-series M uses the same steering rack as the 135i, but its wider tracks and completely altered footprint make its responses feel quicker – it’s a car that wants to change direction. >The control weights are undeniably M: the clutch is long-of-pedal but engages closer to the floor than on a regular 1-series. The gearchange is short and slightly resistant, much like an E46 M3’s – in fact the more I drove the car the more that comparison began to stick. From the action of its shift, to the movement of its pedals and the slightly over-thick steering wheel rim that doesn’t quite reveal all that you’d like to know about the surface underneath, there is much more than a hint of E46 M3 in this car – and that is a very good thing indeed.
He ends talking about the essence of M and how the 1M fits into the range without the 9,000 rpm redline or the 400+ hp.
>So, as you can tell, I really like this car. It’s compact, rear-driven, fast and there isn’t a paddle in sight. It has the presence of a real M car and once you acclimatise to the less zingy nature of its engine you can identify in its behaviour perhaps the most important M attribute of all: its controls somehow feel more connected and natural the harder you push. Gearchanges are smoother; progress is less jerky, faster and more pleasurable.
You can read the entire review (well worth it as you can see) here.
As for our thoughts, we can ‘t help but be just a bit more giddy about this car after reading the above. We ‘ve been reporting for quite some time that BMW sources are personally very excited about this car. We ‘ve been around vehicle launches (yes even the most recent M3) and we can ‘t remember when more of our internal sources at BMW have been more excited about a product. And it ‘s easy to see why. This is a car many of them would like to own themselves. This is a car made for the enthusiast.