First Drive: 2012 BMW 1-Series M Coupe deserves ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’ respect

Being an owner of the 2011 BMW 135i with a 7-SPEED Double Clutch Transmission and an M-Sport package, it was the closet I could get to BMW catering to my dreams of an M version of the 1-Series… until now. After pleading from tons of fans and making a business case to the higher-ups at its Munich headquarter, BMW finally brings us the new 2012 BMW 1-Series M Coupe  – and it’s a little more exceptional than it looks.

First, let’s get rid of those common myths of the 1-Series M Coupe not being a proper M car. Not only is it a proper M car, but it is a proper sports car that sticks to sports car essentials. There’s a twin-turbo straight 6-cylinder engine at the front, it comes exclusively with a 6-speed manual gearbox and the power is sent to the rear wheels – which is exactly what a sports coupe is meant to be like.

It was quickly developed in just 2 years, carries the cheapest price tag in the M lineup, has the smallest engine and has the shortest wheelbase of all its elder M siblings. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, meet the baby of the M lineup that doesn’t leave you feeling like you’re coming up short.

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2012 BMW 1-Series M Coupe Specifications:

  • Base Price: $46,135.
  • Price As Tested: $53,160.
  • Drive Type: Rear-wheel-drive.
  • Engine: 3.0 liter inline 6-cylinder TwinPower Turbo – 335-hp at 5,900 rpm / 332 lb-ft of torque 1,500 – 4,500 rpm..
  • Transmission: 6-Speed Manual.
  • 0 to 60 mph: 4.7 seconds.
  • Top Speed: 155 mph
  • Curb Weight: 3,296 lbs.
  • Fuel-economy (city/highway): 14/19 mpg (manual), 12/18 (auto).

All Photos Copyright © Omar Rana – egmCarTech.

First Drive: 2012 BMW 1-Series M Coupe


[quote float=”left”]Honestly, I have not seen a sports car look this good in a very long time and I am sure that you’ll agree.[/quote] To many of us, the exterior design of the 1-Series M Coupe may seem like a beefier version of the standard 135i but it’s a little more than just that. BMW says that the 1 Series M has been developed for near-perfect balance and a large, square footprint.

Stand it next to the BMW 135i Coupe and you’ll see that the 1-Series M Coupe is slightly wider, slightly more aggressive and slightly meaner. For those that like specifics, the 1-Series M Coupe is .02 inches longer, a whole 2.1 inches wider, 0.5 inches taller and rides on the same 104.7 inch wheelbase. It features a track that is 2.8 inches wider up front and 1.8 inches wider at the back. Weighing 77 pounds less than the 135i Coupe, the total weight comes in at 3,296 pounds. So yes, we are talking about near-perfect balance here.

In terms of appearance, the 2012 BMW 1-Series M Coupe has a powerfully shaped front fascia with three large air intakes and functional air curtains that make starting at it head-on a big pleasure. Side-view mirrors are borrowed from the BMW M3, as are the wheels, and an extra pair of exhausts are found in the back.

Honestly, I have not seen a sports car look this good in a very long time and I am sure that you’ll agree. Compared to competitors like the Porsche Cayman R and the standard 135i, the new 1-Series M Coupe has one of the best stances I’ve seen in a while.

First Drive: 2012 BMW 1-Series M Coupe


Upon having a seat inside the 2012 BMW 1-Series M Coupe, you’ll notice that the car is basically a standard 135i aside from the splash of suede, touches of nice orange stitching and M logos on the steering-wheel, headrests and the driver’s footrest.

Some special things you might like to know about the interior are that it’s only available with black sport seats as standard, Boston leather and heated seats are an option as is the navigation/entertainment system from the 1-Series.

Other than that, there’s not much to bother you during your focused and sporty driving – and that’s a wonderful thing.

First Drive: 2012 BMW 1-Series M Coupe


The 2012 BMW 1-Series M Coupe is the only M car available with a 6-cylinder engine (the N54 from the Z4 to be exact). While that may sound wimpy to those used to V8 BMW M models, it’s really not. Power comes from an all-aluminum, twin-turbocharged 3.0 liter inline-6 engine making 335 horsepower at 5,900 rpm with a maximum torque of 332 lb-ft from 1,500 rpm to 4,500 rpm. Redline is 7,000 rpm. Reworked by BMW M GmbH, the engine gets an enhanced engine management system with an electronically-controlled overboost function that shortly increases torque by another 37 lb-ft. This temporary torque peak of 369 lb-ft gives the car a substantial jump in acceleration.

Just how significant is this jump? While you circle through the 6-speed manual transmission, the 2012 BMW 1-Series M Coupe rockets from 0 to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds and keeps going a top speed of 155 mph (electronically limited).

[quote float=”right”]…you’re thinking about how easy and fun it is to downshift and nail the throttle through turns and burn up rubber doing drifts.[/quote] Still, when it comes to M cars, it isn’t only about the engine, it’s the chassis that also set them apart. The 1-Series M Coupe has been fitted with a pure M-engineered chassis. Of course, every BMW begins with arranging major components in a way that facilitates near-perfect front/rear weight balance (51.7/48.3) and you’ll notice that as you push the 1-Series M Coupe through twists and turns. BMW says that virtually all of the front-end components are aluminum, including the front struts, swivel bearings and central subframe. There is also an additional thrust panel below the engine that serves to maximize stiffness of the front section. At the back, the rear axle, the subframe, transverse arms, track arms, and wheel hubs have been reconfigured by M for ideal geometry.

Certainly, we would have no rights to conclude a discussion on any M car without honorable mention of the steering-wheel mounted M button that first appeared on the 2006 BMW M5. In the 1 M Coupe, the M button summons a razor-sharp throttle response and instantly increased engine performance, which varies according to the driver’s wishes. I don’t know why you would ever drive with the M button off – but you do have that option.

At the end of the day, when you’re driving the 2012 BMW 1-Series M Coupe, you’re not thinking about the technical specs of the car, you’re thinking about how easy and fun it is to downshift and nail the throttle through turns and burn up rubber doing drifts.

First Drive: 2012 BMW 1-Series M Coupe


If you recently bought yourself a Porsche Cayman S or even a Porsche Cayman R, we suggest you stop reading here. While BMW says there aren’t really any competitors that they had in mind when building the 1-Series M Coupe, the Porsche Cayman S and the Porsche Cayman R are the model’s closest rivals.

Both Caymans are powered by a 3.4 liter inline 6-cylinder engine that produces 320-hp in the Cayman S and 330-hp in the Cayman R. Both have power sent to the rear-wheels and both run a 0 to 60 mph time of 4.9 seconds (Cayman S) or 4.7 seconds (Cayman R).

However, the Porsche Cayman S starts at $62,100, while the Porsche Cayman R starts at a bank-account draining $66,300.

How much does the baby M start at? $46,135. That’s a bit depressing if you just bought either of those Caymans.

So if you’re looking for a tiny car, with a lot of horsepower, razor sharp handling and a reasonable price tag – you’ve met your match.

All Photos Copyright © Omar Rana – egmCarTech.

– By: Omar Rana