BMW 1-SERIES M COUPE
THERE’S LOTS TO DISLIKE here, from the terrible looks to its terrible name. BMW should just have called it the M1 and worn the carping from those saying it was a poor substitute for the original.
And that’s not all. At the heart of the BMW M brand used to lie a bespoke, highly tuned, high-rewing normallyaspirated engine, but here you’ll find a twin-turbo unit taken unchanged from the Z4 cruiser developing its 335bhp at just 5900rpm. You don’t need to engage in a process to get it to work, you just flex your foot and go.
Yet as someone who remains worried about the direction in which BMW in general and M in particular is heading, I found myself much heartened by this warmedthrough 1-series. Silly body kit and a needlessly fat and squidgy steering wheel aside, there’s nothing extraneous here: you can’t even have a sunroof or tow bar. It is a back to basics M car closest in character to the secondgeneration M3 from 1992. Indeed in an era where car manufacturers are quite happy to pervert the design of cars because they know
it will generate the statistics upon which sales increasingly depend, it is refreshing to see such a straightforward approach. It’s a car that’ll hit 60mph in 4.9sec, but if it had four-wheel drive, paddleshiff transmission and good launch control, you could easily lose half a second from that time, and merely at the price of spoiling the way it drives. I’m probably old-fashioned
but I see nothing wrong with a powerful rear-wheel-drive car, a straight manual gearbox, a good mechanically locking differential and a nice long wheelbase. To me these are the ingredients most likely to combine into an entertaining, indulgent driving experience.
And so it proves. Sad to say, I can’t remember when I last enjoyed so much driving a BMW you can actually buy. I say this because since we last met I’ve also driven the batty M3 GTS, and despite it being almost unusably stiff on the road had a wonderful time at its wheel. But as only 15 have been imported and all sold I won’t dwell on it further here. Instead I found really rather charming the way the 1-series was quick and efficient when you drove it smoothly, and quite wild and wayward when you did not. This is not a car that’s going to let you sit back while it does all the hard work: you have to get stuck in and it’s all the better for it.
So BMW or ‘M’ I should say, we need more like this please. No bells, no frills, just honest, down-to-earth, damn good fun sporting cars. Anything else has no business wearin the badge.