BMW 1 M Coupe in Indonesia

High-style driving in the new 1-Series M Coupe is all about quality, power and overall performance

Something exciting is happening at BMW, the car manufacturer famous for producing cars designed for driving enjoyment. Renaldi Hutasoit tells us all about it.

BMW is bringing the performance of its M series coupes to a broader and younger audience by introducing a new, more affordable variant below the M3 called the BMW 1-Series M Coupe, aka 1 M. Then the inevitable question: Since BMW had the M3, M5 and M6, why didn’t they just call it the M1?

Well, the M1 moniker is already in use by an exotic sports car. So using this sacred name in an entry level M car would be verboten. The BMW 1 M Coupe is definitely not a watered-down version of the M3. It is worthy to carry the BMW M banner judging from its performance. For example, the 1 M can hit 100 kph from a standstill in 4.9 seconds. Further, to me at least, it even looks meaner compared to the sleeker-looking M3.

It embodies the unmistakable M feeling with its inline, six-cylinder, three-liter engine with the M ‘TwinPower Turbo’ and direct injection capable of producing 340 horsepower at 5,900 rpm. This output is only three horsepower less than the E46 in the BMW M3s.

The M TwinPower Turbo technology in the 1 M consists of two relatively small turbochargers, which are active even at low engine speeds. BMW made the right decision when they opted for two relatively small turbos instead of a single large turbo. Turbochargers need exhaust flow from the engine to spin and create positive pressure on the intake side. The larger the turbocharger, the more flow it needs before it starts to spin fast enough to create tangible pressure. By using two small turbochargers, the M TwinPower Turbo engine can provide an unusually spontaneous level of responsiveness throughout the rpm range while still producing enough boost at the higher rpm to produce the high power and torque.

The engine produces its maximum torque of 450 Nm from 1500 rpm up to 4500 rpm. If that last sentence had too much tech jargon, just know this, a 2011 BMW 325i has only 250 Nm of torque to play with, yet it provides exhilarating responsiveness.

Further, an electronically controlled over-boost function is capable of increasing the torque even more under a full load by an additional 50 Nm. The over-boost function helps the BMW 1 M coupe match the E46 M3’s acceleration to 100kph. What is certainly refreshing for Indonesian driving enthusiasts is the return of the normal H-pattern manual transmission to BMW cars in the market. The last time BMW offered a car with three pedals for general sale was at least 10 years ago. The 1 M coupe will only be available with a six-speed manual transmission that is operated using a short M gearshift lever. BMW has been known for its silky-smooth gear-lever shifting and the short M lever only increases the enjoyment.

The BMW 1 M coupe also features chassis technology derived directly from the racing track. The car’s handling should be a revelation, because those flared fenders are not just for show. Those fenders were necessary to cover the 1 M’s extra-wide track. Just like a triangle, the wider the distance we have between the left and right wheels, the more stable a vehicle is. BMW further fitted a variable M-differential lock that generates lock-up torque as required and is completely variable up to 100 percent, thus providing for optimum traction on all road surfaces because you will always have drive power from both rear wheels at all times. The model is also equipped with an M-specific compound, high-performance brake system that provides impressive stability even under extreme conditions.

As with all M cars in the BMW stable, the 1 M features M-Drive mode. By pressing a button on the steering wheel, the response of the engine shows a highly increased level of spontaneity. Even minimal thrusts of the accelerator pedal are rewarded with instant, massive increases in torque, making the power delivery of the six-cylinder engine a defining quality of the driving experience.

Controlling 340 horses and 450 Nm of torque is not for the faint of heart. As customers come with varying driving skills, to allow the broadest audience access to the 1 M coupe, BMW has equipped it with Driving Stability Control (DSC). It includes elements such as the Antilock Braking System (ABS), an anti-slip control function (ASC), the brake- assisting Dynamic Brake Control (DBC), Cornering Brake Control (CBC) and anti-fading function, as well as a dry-brake function. However, a skilled driver can also activate the M Dynamic Mode (MDM) by means of a switch in the instrument panel, to reduce the intervention of the driving stability control system and allow more control from the driver.

The striking bodywork of the BMW 1 M will be available in Alpine White non-metallic, Sapphire Black metallic and the exclusive Valencia Orange metallic. The standard 19-inch M light alloy wheels in Y-spoke design provide perfect road contact and an unmistakable appearance. The 1 M  is also fitted as standard with bi-xenon headlamps. The twin circular headlights as well as the L-shaped rear lights feature LED-fed positioning lights. At the rear, chrome twin tailpipes strengthen the performance character of the car.

Inside, the M cockpit has a sports-car vibe with its color and the quality material one can expect from BMW. It was indeed a strange, albeit welcomed, feeling when I sat down and found a clutch pedal and a normal shift lever inside a brand new BMW. That and standard leather sport seats that offer both driver and front passenger excellent lateral support, underlining the sporty ambience of the interior. In particular, I like the orange contrast stitching on the black surfaces of the seats and backrests as well as the M logo embossed in the front of the headrests. The orange stitching theme continues on the gear shift and handbrake lever gaiter while the rest of the interior is dominated by black alcantara.

A leather steering wheel also comes standard with multifunction keys for operating the 10 Harman Kardon speakers in the Surround-Audio system.

BMW created the 1 M coupe for younger target groups to gain easier access to the driving experience offered by an M car. Will it be a success? I can’t see a reason why it won’t. By going the turbo route (this is the first turbocharged M sports car) in particular, BMW has made the car more appealing to this target group who is already familiar with turbocharging and turbo tuning. Although many of the M cars get modified by their owners, most only modify its appearance, because to get meaningful improvements from naturally aspirated, high-performance M cars is prohibitively expensive. On the contrary, a turbocharged engine is very tunable at a much more reasonable cost and most M car owners are always looking for ways to improve their cars.

Maybe this is not what BMW had planned in the beginning (at least officially), but tunable cars will sell more than cars that are not. Ever wonder why an iPad is so successful? Is it because the iPad is the ultimate tablet? Very debatable. What the iPad lacks in features, it makes up for with brand/product image, affordable and changeable apps and accessories. Now imagine if a product with unquestionable brand image and pedigree comes with just as much possibility of worthwhile customization. Ladies and gents I give you the BMW 1 M coupe.