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      11-21-2010, 07:44 PM   #1
JasonCSU
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Drives: '08 135i, '88 325is
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Denver, CO

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Lightbulb BMW 1M Coupe Pre-drive - The review

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Hi everyone. I was one of the three participants from the US and my reference for comparison is my 2008 135.

Let me start with some cliff notes for those of you who may not want to read the entire review. After this experience, and depending on how the 1M will be priced, I'm looking at putting my 135 up for sale which I never thought I would do. I really do like my 135, but the 1M is on a whole different level.

Before this pre-drive event, I took out a 2008 E92 M3 6MT to get an idea how it would compare. The first thing I noticed compared to my 135, was that the clutch felt lighter. This car only had about 14,000 miles on it, so I assume it was still the factory clutch. It also felt like this M3 had active steering on it, as when driving through the parking lot, the steering felt over-boosted. That feeling completely changed once on the highway and on a curvy backroad. On those roads, the steering became very direct, with a nice weight to the wheel. Now, I have heard the exhaust note of M3s on the track before, but hearing the engine note from behind the wheel was like pure audio ecstasy. As I was expecting, the car didn't feel very torquey off the line compared to an N54/N55 powered car, but that didn't matter once you had the revs up and the engine was singing its glorious song with fantastic throttle response. In my opinion, it's a much more focused driving machine than my 135, but it also has presence with a large footprint.

On to the 1M. Once we were given the go ahead to fire the cars up, I instantly noticed the louder, slightly more bassy exhaust note compared to the stock exhaust on my car. To be honest, I was blipping the throttle every chance I got when I was behind the wheel because I couldn't get enough of the sound. Chis Harris was right, it sounds like an M car. I suppose my co-pilot and I were lucky, we were the only people in the car during our entire test drive and not burdened by any extra weight. Getting up to cruising speed on the Autobahn (210-230kph) was absolutely effortless. We'd have liked to push the car further, but it wouldn't have been smart in the rain we were driving in. However, I was fortunate to hitch a ride in a 1M down to Munich. During that ride, the driver had the car up to 250kph for a brief period and it was still pulling strong all while feeling completely stable and composed.

There is an M button on the steering wheel that when pressed, puts the car into "Sport" mode which is indicated in the gauge cluster. Once in this sport mode, the most noticeable change is the throttle response. When you blip the throttle in my 135, there is a definite delay, but not so in the 1M with sport mode engaged. It really did feel like I was driving a naturally aspirated engine with its quick throttle response. Speaking of NA engines, this engine in the 1M does its best to act like one. The power does not drop off after 5500 rpm like it does in other N54 powered cars. It kept pulling past 6500 with the same sense of urgency as it does from 2000 rpm.

The clutch in the 1M felt similar to that in the M3 I drove, but the shifter of the 6MT felt different than both the M3 and my 135. It was absolutely superb. The throws were short and direct, most likely the result of a short throw linkage. I always thought the steering in my 135 was well weighted with great feedback, but the 1M took it to a telepathic level. The retuned suspension, wider track, and larger grippier tires are certainly confidence inspiring, providing much sharper handling than that of my 135 and without feeling hefty like that of an M3. I also say that knowing we never really got to use the tires to their full potential in the cold and wet conditions. The car does feel much flatter in the corners, but will oversteer a bit if you push it. The 1M also rides much firmer with these changes, but not to the point of adversely affecting the ride which is still quite comfortable. This was quite noticeable on some cobblestone streets that we drove down which would be unbearable in my 135 with the run-flats. Driving out in the wet conditions also did give us a chance to feel the LSD at work, which will be greatly appreciated by any driver talented enough to exploit it.

On the subjective side of things, the 1M looks absolutely aggressive with its wider stance, and revised front and rear fascias. Valencia Orange is absolutely stunning once you see it in person. I'm usually a fan of silver and gray colors, but I was surprised at how well the car also looked in Alpine White. In white, it really allows you to see the details of the new bodywork.

To sum up, I think the M division did a great job putting together a focused driver's car that's not overloaded with tech options/features, which should hopefully keep the price more affordable, allowing it to attract a new generation of M car enthusiasts. This was an experience I will never forget, and I would like to thank BMW for giving us the opportunity to be a part of it.
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Delivered in Munich, broken in on the Nurburgring.