Having owned a 1M since new, I’ve used it as a baseline (much like my 1976 2002) for what BMW excellence has historically been. It brings context to all BMWs but no more is it more relevant than in M products where we’ve seen increasing capabilities with an engineering philosophy moving them further away from the original E30 M3 formula. So how does the new 382 hp BMW M240i Compare to the more than a decade old 1M? On paper very well. However in hand, not well.
Let’s get right to it. One of these is a true M car and the other is not. But the M240i is so capable (reportedly faster than 2022 M3 on some tracks) that I’m not going to make any excuses for it. In so many ways this feels like a junior Nissan GTR in its effortless speed and endless grip. Like the GTR it’s also not a lightweight at 3,871 lbs. That’s a full 575 pounds heavier than the 3,296 lbs 1M. Yes an M2 based on this car might be lighter and will surely be fire-breathing. Yet that weight 3.4″ increase in length and a 2″ increase in wheelbase you can expect a different type of attitude than the 1M or even the previous M2 competition.
Not surprisingly the driving experience of these two are worlds apart. There’s an anger in the 1M the M240i doesn’t achieve. While BMW has magically made xDrive capable of endless drifting (and the rear wheel drive version coming will be even better), the 1M’s short wheelbase, quicker rack and lighter flywheel all make it so much more immediate. Where the M240i feels programmed to perfection, the 1M is wonderfully flawed in how easy it rotates and ultimately how spiky it can be on the limit.
We’re now at a state of the automotive world where we’re reaching peak internal combustion engine vehicles. The power is abundant, the grip is endless and the technology bringing it all together is NASA smart. In a word we are seeing a divergence from what BMW (and more superficially BMW M) has stood for and what a car like the M240i delivers. We’re not here to judge this as good or bad but the change has never been more apparent than in these two cars. 11 years, and worlds apart, the 1M and M240i represent very different versions of what a small BMW coupe can be. Both are excellent but only one feels timeless.