BMW go back to their roots with the 1 Series M

BMW are to produce the 1 series M car (“1M”) in May 2011. The car will be a return to the small, lightweight M car philosophy that made the M badge so special.

The world famous badge

In my article why 90’s sports cars are icons I highlight the increase in size and weight of cars over the last 20 years. The evolution of the BMW 3 Series is a clear example of this trend. The original 1987 BMW M3 was based on the E30 platform of the 3 series. The wheelbase was 2568mm and the weight was 1257kg whilst the current 3 series is 2761mm and 1655kg. That’s a 30 percent increase in weight alone. To compensate for this growth BMW have increased power and torque by approximately 80 percent! Whilst the current E92 M3 is now a junior supercar, some of the driver experience has been lost in translation. Electronic aids now include Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), anti-slip control (ASC), Dynamic Brake Control (DBC), Cornering Brake Control (CBC), an anti-fading function and a dry brake function.

There was no need for a 1 Series in the 80’s or 90’s. BMW has created the market for this model series by gradually making the 3 series larger with each iteration. This sales and marketing strategy has worked brilliantly to increase sales volumes. However it has left the enthusiast with a car that has gradually lost distinction.

So the 1M is essentially a truer modern take on the original and best M3 of them all, the E30 M3. The specifications are of course very different, there is much more power, more weight and also more driver aids in the 1M. However, this is probably the closest BMW will get to making a car worthy of comparison to an E30 M3. Detailed spec is as follows (BMW E30 M3 figures shown in brackets for comparison).

Engine 3.0 litre twin turbo straight six (2.5 litre in-line 4 cylinder)
Power 340bhp (220bhp)
Torque 369lb ft (180 lb ft)
Weight 1570kg (1257kg)
Power to weight 217 bhp/ton (178 bhp/ton)
Power per litre 113 (96)
Acceleration 4.9s (6.7s)
Wheelbase 2660mm (2568mm)

The reason why it is called the 1 Series M and not M1 is because that name is reserved for a totally different model altogether, BMW’s only supercar to date, the 1978 M1.

Price of the 1M start at just under £40k and delivery will commence on 14 May 2011.

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