2011 BMW 1 Series M Coupe Review [Video]

BMW blends turbo power with naturally aspirated response, marking a new era of M cars

2011 BMW 1 Series M Coupe Review [Video]

I told my wife to take it for a spin around the block. Really, she said? Absolutely, I replied. You have to. Twenty years from now you’ll no doubt find yourself standing around with a bunch of car buffs talking about amazing and iconic cars. Remember the NSX? The R35 GT-R? The Boss 302? And then someone will undoubtedly say: remember the 1M Coupe? “Yes” you’ll be able to reply. “I drove it.” To which you’ll be met with respect by those rare few who’ve also had the chance, and nostalgic car guy envy by those who haven’t.


1. With 335-hp and 369 lb-ft of torque the 1M is down 79-hp on the V8-powered M3, but makes 74 lb-ft more torque.

2. Flared fenders and a wider track. The 1M is 1.8-inches wider up front and almost 3 inches wider in the rear.

3. Available only with a six-speed manual transmission, BMW claims a 0-60 mph of 4.7 seconds.

The E30 M3? Maybe. Maybe not. But the 1M Coupe is the poster car for a new generation of auto-buffs, those who will recall the first time they read a review in a blog and not a magazine. Perhaps it will only be bought by Gen Xers and older with enough disposable income, but to the Gen Y crowd and the upcoming millenials, it’s a marker in time.

The first turbocharged M car (do those X5/X6 SUVs really count?) the 1M is a watershed moment, marking a new era of turbocharged sports cars.

Perhaps it lacks some of the purist feel of the E30, but remember, that car never had a custom one-off engine either. Rather, it used a modified version of an existing 3 Series 4-cylinder.

Get the Flash Player to see this player.


The anticipation is usually better than the reality because it’s always hard to live up to the hype. And prior to its launch the 1M was hyped like no BMW before it. Looking at just the engine and the numbers the 1M fails to impress. For starters, it’s just a hopped up version of the same twin-turbo six-cylinder found in much of the rest of the BMW lineup. Second, the performance increase seems minimal. With 335-hp it’s just a 35-hp upgrade over the 135i. And torque rises to just 332 lb-ft (or 369 in an overboost mode).

2011 BMW 1 Series M Coupe

A closer look at those specs reveals something interesting. Compared to the current M3 it may be short 79 ponies, but it’s also up a solid 74 lb-ft of torque. Plus, weighing 77 lbs less than a 135i it’s actually over 400 lbs less than an M3.

But more important than all of this, is how the engine feels. It might just be the closest any automaker has come yet to building a turbocharged engine that delivers consistent power delivery and throttle response like a naturally aspirated block. And with the quick spooling twin turbochargers delivering most of that power from just 1500 rpm, the 1M likes to go sideways as much as it does forward.


2011 BMW 1 Series M Coupe

A boosted beast out of the corners it can be a handful and requires that you’ve got some common sense attached to your right foot. The M Dynamic Mode may be plenty of fun, but you’ll risk burning out the traction control light on the dash. Instead, flick the traction and stability control off… but be warned.

Helping put the power down and keep you in control are some significantly flared fenders, with a wider track, big 19-inch wheels and sticky rubber. Classic and new M design cues do their part to add some muscle to this otherwise cute coupe, but the difference maker is the wide body and bulging corners, fitted with a set of wheels that look like they were jacked from a race car.

In total, the 1M is 1.8-inches wider up front and 2.8-inches thicker out back. Plus there’s that extra rubber out back. But as mentioned, getting full traction is tough.

Handling is superb. There’s little else to say. We found little evidence of undetsteer on the street, although pushed harder on a track would likely reveal more. Body lean is incredibly minimal. The hydraulic power steering is exact. The pedals are perfectly placed for heel-toe action and throttle response is incredible. With a short wheelbase and little overhang it’s nimble, transitioning with ease.

And to ensure the 1M will never become the poseur machine the immensely popular E46 M3 became, it can only be ordered with one transmission, a six-speed manual.

2011 BMW 1 Series M Coupe

Push the M button on the steering wheel and the switch in engine mapping is immediate and tactile. Even with a steady throttle the car surges forward just a touch as the throttle response firms up to race car levels.


2011 BMW 1 Series M Coupe

Inside there’s no fussing around with unnecessary frivolities. You can’t get the 1M with a sunroof, although BMW’s iDrive is standard. Oddly, a “comfort access” fob with push-button ignition isn’t standard. There’s a decent amount of Alcantara, M badges and custom stitching, plus the front seats are so form fitting they’ll even give a supermodel a tight squeeze.

On city streets the suspension is stiff, the steering (especially in MDM) is particularly heavy and the wider wheels pull the car around on uneven asphalt. It’s also loud, but worth it, with an excellent note and even the occasional pop. Toss those criticisms aside, however, as anyone who’s interested in this car won’t care and chances are they’ll wish the exhaust was even louder – we do.

Back to the styling, while the 1M does get more adventurous curves and angles than M models traditionally do, they’re not as significant a nod as we’d like. If this car is missing anything it’s a big rear spoiler – optional at least. Sure M cars are meant to be subtle, but the 1M is a different sort of M and it should send a clear message.

2011 BMW 1 Series M Coupe


Traditionally, Americans love big powerful cars. But the 1M isn’t aimed at those folks. Rather, it’s pegged squarely at a new generation of car buffs; those who grew up on the sport compact craze and who see nothing wrong with driving a small car.

The 1M is an acknowledgement of just how well BMW understands what people (and the motoring press) are lusting for. And the wilder styling on this newest M car is a nod to a younger demographic.

2011 BMW 1 Series M Coupe

Philosophically, it’s still hard to get over the borrowed turbo engine, but get behind the wheel and this well-reasoned argument gives way to the awesome reality. In a new era of turbocharged engines we often long for naturally aspirated powerplants, but if the 1M is a sign of what BMW engineers can do, then we welcome a lag-free turbocharged sports car future.

Related Reading
BMW M3 Review
Nissan 370Z NISMO Review
2011 Subaru WRX STI Review
2011 Lotus Evora S Review
2011 Ford Mustang Boss 302 Review

« Back

AutoGuide.com’s Monthly Overlay Newsletter Signup – By subscribing to our email newsletter, Entrants are eligible to win one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card (value of $100.00 USD). One (1) winner will be chosen every month at random and contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. *Amazon.com is not a sponsor of this promotion. Except as required by law, Amazon.com Gift Cards ("GCs") cannot be transferred for value or redeemed for cash. GCs may be used only for purchases of eligible goods at Amazon.com or certain of its affiliated websites. For complete terms and conditions, see www.amazon.com/gc-legal. GCs are issued by ACI Gift Cards, Inc., a Washington corporation. All Amazon ®, ™ & © are IP of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. No expiration date or service fees.


2. PRIZE: One (1) Winner will be randomly selected every month to each receive: one (1) $100.00 Amazon.com Gift Card (the “Prize Supplier”). Total approximate retail value of all prizes is approximately $100.00 USD. Prizes are not transferable and no cash or prize substitution is allowed. Prize package is awarded "as is" with no warranty or guarantee, either express or implied.

3. ELIGIBILITY: From the time of entry through the final date of prize fulfillment, each contest entrant and selected entrant must be a permanent lawful citizen and resident residing in the 50 United States or the District of Columbia or in Canada, and be twenty one (21) years of age or older. VOID IN PUERTO RICO, THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS, IN ALL FOREIGN COUNTRIES OUTSIDE OF THE UNITED STATES, AND ALL OTHER U.S. TERRITORIES OR CANADA AND POSSESSIONS AND WHERE PROHIBITED OR RESTRICTED BY LAW. Employees, officers, directors, agents and representatives, of the Sponsor and the Prize Supplier and each of their respective parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries, advertising and promotion agencies, promotion partners and any entity involved in the development, production, implementation, administration or fulfillment of this Sweepstakes, and the immediate family members (e.g., spouse, mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, aunt, nephew, niece, grandparent, in-law, daughter and son, regardless of where they live) and persons living in the same household (whether or not related) of such individuals are not eligible to participate or win. Only one selected entrant per household. All decisions of the Sponsor with respect to this sweepstakes are final. The Sponsor shall have the right at any time to require proof of identity and failure to provide such proof may result in disqualification from the Sweepstakes.

4. ENTER BY INTERNET: You may enter this sweepstakes via the Internet by logging onto AutoGuide.com and subscribing to our email newsletter via the pop-up overlay.

5. SELECTION OF WINNER: One (1) Entrant will be selected by random selection who have subscribed to our email newsletter. The winner may be announced publicly on AutoGuide.com and will be contacted by VerticalScope Inc.’s staff. The winner will be required to provide a mailing address (that is not a P.O. box) to receive the prize which will be shipped free of charge.

6. ODDS OF WINNING: Odds of winning a prize are determined by the total number of eligible entries received.

7. RESTRICTIONS: The prize package consists of one (1) Amazon.com Gift Card with an approximate value of $100.00 USD. If prize cannot be awarded due to circumstances beyond the control of the Sponsor or Prize Supplier, no substitute prize will be awarded due to the unique nature of the prize. Sponsor and Prize Supplier shall not be liable to the winner or any person claiming through winner for failure to supply the prize or any part thereof, by reason of any acts of God, any action(s), regulation(s), order(s) or request(s) by any governmental or quasi-governmental entity (whether or not the action(s), regulations(s), order(s) or request(s) prove(s) to be invalid), equipment failure, utility failure, internet failure, terrorist acts, threatened terrorist acts, air raid, blackout, act of public enemy, earthquake, war (declared or undeclared), fire, flood, epidemic, explosion, unusually severe weather, hurricane, embargo, labor dispute or strike (whether legal or illegal) labor or material shortage, transportation interruption of any kind, work slow-down, civil disturbance, insurrection, riot, or any other cause beyond Sponsor's or Prize Supplier's control (collectively, "Force Majeure Event"). Sponsor shall not be responsible for any cancellations, delays, diversions or substitutions or any act or omissions whatsoever by the performers/events, other transportation companies or any other persons providing any of these services and accommodations to passengers including any results thereof such as changes in services or accommodations necessitated by same.

8. CONDITIONS: By entering the Sweepstakes, entrants agree to be bound by the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions and that Sponsor has the irrevocable right to use in perpetuity entrants' names, user names, likenesses, photographs, voices, home mailing address, biographical and prize information, and entry materials, without notice to entrants and without compensation or obligation, in any and all media now or hereafter known throughout the world, in any manner whatsoever, to advertise and promote Sponsor, its products and services, the Sweepstakes, and for any other purpose except where prohibited by law. Entrant waives the right to assert as a cost of winning a prize any and all costs of verification and redemption or travel to redeem said prize and any liability which might arise from redeeming or seeking to redeem said prize. Sponsor is not responsible for fraudulent calls or emails made to entrants not by the Sponsor. If the Sweepstakes is not capable of running as planned by reason of damage by computer viruses, worms or bugs, tampering, unauthorized intervention, fraud, technical limitations or failures, any Force Majeure Event or any other cause which, in the sole opinion of Sponsor, could corrupt, compromise, undermine or otherwise affect the administration, security, fairness, integrity, viability or proper conduct of the Sweepstakes, Sponsor reserves the right, in its sole and absolute discretion, to cancel, terminate, modify or suspend all or any part of the Sweepstakes, and to select a winner from among all eligible entries received by Sponsor up until the time of such cancellation, termination, modification or suspension, as applicable. Sponsor reserves the right in its sole discretion to disqualify any individual that (i) tampers or attempts to tamper with the entry process or the operations of this Sweepstakes in any manner, (ii) violates the Official Rules, Terms and Conditions or (iii) acts in an unsportsmanlike or disruptive manner, or with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten or harass any other person. CAUTION: ANY ATTEMPT BY AN ENTRANT OR ANY OTHER INDIVIDUAL TO DELIBERATELY DAMAGE OR UNDERMINE THE LEGITIMATE OPERATION OF THIS SWEEPSTAKES IS A VIOLATION OF CRIMINAL AND CIVIL LAWS. SHOULD SUCH AN ATTEMPT BE MADE, SPONSOR RESERVES THE RIGHT TO SEEK CIVIL AND/OR CRIMINAL PROSECUTION AND/OR DAMAGES FROM ANY SUCH PERSON TO THE FULLEST EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW. Any expenses and receipt and use of the prize and federal, state and local taxes and fees applicable in connection with the prize awarded are the sole responsibility of the winner. An IRS Form 1099 will be issued in the name of the winner for the actual value of the prize received. This Sweepstakes is subject to all federal, state and local laws of the United States. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED. Sponsor, Prize Supplier, and their respective officers, directors, parent companies, affiliates, subsidiaries and advertising and promotion agencies, employees, representatives and agents are not responsible for and shall not be liable for (i) any injuries, losses or damages of any kind caused by a prize resulting from acceptance, possession or usage of the prize, or (ii) printing, distribution or production errors. Sponsor or its affiliates may rescind any promotion found to contain such errors without liability at its or their sole discretion.

9. SPONSOR: The Sponsor of this contest is VerticalScope Inc. (the owner and operator of AutoGuide.com), 111 Peter Street, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 2H1.

Subscribe to our email newsletter and automatically be entered to win.
*Restrictions apply. See offer for details

Get Breaking Automotive News, Reviews and Video in your Facebook Feed!

Already Liked