BMW M1: What To ExpectS

It seems to be an open secret BMW's developing an M version of the 1-series coupe. Will this"M1" be like the heavy, torque-free BMW M3 or the legendary lightweight performance cars of yore? Possibly-leaked information may shed some light.

One thing we do know is, unlike the current M3, which develops only 295 Lb-Ft of torque from its naturally aspirated 4.0-liter V8, torque shouldn't be a problem for the M1. Its engine will be based on the new twin scroll turbocharged 3.0-liter straight-six in the 535i GT, but will drop the single blower in favor of a twin turbo setup. That 5-series GT develops an M3-matching 295 Lb-Ft already, expect more from the smaller, lighter M1 as well as a fatter curve.

Speaking of weight, the current M3 coupe (the lighter of the M3 twins) weighs a positively leviathan 3,648 Lbs. The 135i is lighter at 3,438 Lbs, but not substantially so and certainly not in line with the difference in size between the two vehicles. Therefore, it's not expected the M1 will be any lighter than the 135i, but we'd expected it to offer some weight saving options. Turns out, we were correct in our assumptions if an intriguing personalization program that's surfaced in the forums is correct.

We caution — we're getting no official comment out of BMW on the validity of the info below — but we figure since it's out there, let's run it and see what comes from it. According to 1Addicts.com, the M1 will be made available with a long list of options not typically found on your average BMW. :

EXTERIOR:
Carbon fiber hood (bonnet)
Carbon fiber trunk (bootlid) with integrated spoiler
Carbon fiber mirrors
Carbon fiber front splitters
Carbon fiber rear valence diffuser
Carbon fiber sideskirts
M-stripes (available in M tricolors, Alpine White, or Ferric Gray)
M-stripes may be placed on left, central, or right hand side of car. Additional stripes can be incorporated along the side of the car.
18" competition wheels in two finishes
BMW shadowline chrome can be extended to the front kidney grills and rear exhaust ports (titanium effect finish will be an option).
Matte paint options : Frozen Gray, Frozen Black, Ice White.
Techno Violet option (including all additional colors from other M-vehicles)

INTERIOR:
Seats available in full and half-leather using M tri-color pattern on center of seats (like E30 / M3 Evo).
M tricolor pattern on door panels (like E30 / M3 Evo)
Carbon fiber dashboard panels / Aluminum panel options.
Titanium and body color matched pieces extending to the door handles and gear shift surround trim.
Alacantra seat fabric and roof headliner.

Hopefully, if this info's correct — which we have our doubts about — then all that carbon might actually be capable of shedding a few pounds from the M1's weight.

Mechanical upgrades over the 135i are expected to take the form of a six-speed dual-clutch manumatic transmission, a beefed up M-differential and a lower, stiffer take on the 135i's MacPherson Strut (front), Multilink (rear) suspension setup.

The M1 is going to be a tricky car for BMW. They'll be hoping to avoid cannibalizing M3 sales while keeping the M1's price usefully lower than that car. Considering an optioned up 135i can already approach $50,000 and the M3 sedan starts at just $55,400, that's going to be difficult. Making things harder, the 135i isn't what we would call an ideal platform for an outright performance vehicle. Sure, it's small, but it's heavy, soft and lacks involvement. If the M1's to live up to the expectations that are attached to the M badge, then it's going to need a substantially higher level of mechanical spec. Can BMW do that while still keeping the price south of $50k? That's the question that will determine the M1's success or failure.

Finally, there's the name. "M1" seems to be favored, but conflicts with the brand's history since the original M1 was a mid-engine supercar. There's still the chance it'll be called the BMW 135tii.