You've probably heard that one before and so have we. But we have driven one and here's why we think it really is the best.
Never the sentence "Less is more" has been so fitting in this particular case. This is the BMW 1M, it came out in 2011 and it immediately cheered all the bimmer fans around the world. On paper, it looked like a "back to basics" for BMW's M division. Take the smallest car there is in the range, fit it with a straight-six engine coupled to a manual gearbox and everyone will be happy. Many stated that is what the M3 should have always been. Indeed, with the years passing by, cars got bigger and fatter in order to accommodate more security, more technologies and to please the general public that always wants more. To say that the BMW 1M is refreshing in this ocean of fat whales is an understatement.
Unfortunately, the BMW 1M got discontinued, only a year after it was launched, in favor of its replacement, the M2 that arrived in 2015. Therefore, the 1M is in limited supply. Originally, BMW wanted to produce only 2'700 units, but the car was so popular that they finally built 6'309 cars. The result is a car that is keeping its value rather well and, in some cases, a clean and original 1M will cost as much as when it was brand new regardless of the mileage the previous owner has put on it. But you don't become the best M car ever just because you are rare, do you?
Richard Hammond gave the 1M the "Richard Hammond's Car of the Year 2011" award in the Top Gear magazine, so how bad can it be? Thanks to motoring journalists such as Hammond or Chris Harris, the 1M has gained the reputation of being one of the best compact sports car you can find on the market. As stated above, it has always been seen as the perfect interpretation of what an M car should be. It has a short wheel base, a beautiful handling and it feels kind of old school. Unlike the M2, which is a brilliant car by the way, the 1M feels more raw, more connected to the road. With this car, it's all about the driving experience.
But why isn't it called the M1? That's true, this is the only M car that does not respect the appellation rule. You have the M2, M3, M4, M5, M6, M8 and... 1M. It's actually more complicated than it seems. It goes back to BMW M's department very first car, the M1 from 1978. BMW's one and only mid-engine supercar. So there is a lot of respect around that name and even through the 1M is a fantastic little car, it's not really eligible to inherit such a powerful title. Yet, this car proves that you do not need a supercar to make heads turn. We did not expect to see so many people stopping and looking at the 1M. It drags so much attention. Talking about the design, I wouldn't say that it is that all pretty. However, I am a big fan of its wide body and the four exhaust pipes. These elements really make the 1M stand out from a regular 1 Series Coupe. It doesn't look ordinary yet it is not as vulgar as a Honda Civic Type R. Just the perfect blend between sportiness and discretion.
Yes, it's a manual, and only a manual. Unlike the M2 that offers both a manual and a dual-clutch gearbox. A feature that brings the 1M so much more personality compared to an M2. I kind of feel bad for the M2, so I think it's time we give it a little bit more credit. Yes, the M2 is a more powerful car. The M2 has 370 horsepower, while the 1M "only" has 340 horsies. The new car is also quicker from 0 to 100 km/h (4.3 seconds against 4.6), and finally you get a bit more tech and a more modern design. But that's about it. The 1M is better on every other points.
The 1M is an extremely fun car that has a superbly well-balanced chassis. Everybody seems to say that, but it is a very special car. It's not mind-blowingly fast but it's OK. The character of the car makes up for it. Surprisingly, I was expecting the 1M to be much more uncomfortable, but you could actually still drive it everyday and not have backaches. Honestly, this car is close, very close to perfection. Thanks to its compact format, the 1M just feels like this original M3 we drove the other day. It's you, the road, the car and that's it. So yes, for us, the 1M is BMW's best M car ever, so far.
Follow us on Instagram:
I would like to express my deepest gratitude to Perego Cars, situated in Switzerland, for giving me the opportunity to review and shoot this car that is currently on sale. Website: www.peregocars.com/en Facebook: www.facebook.com/peregocars/ Instagram: www.instagram.com/peregocars/