After months of well-calculated teasing, the wraps have finally come off of the new 2012 BMW 1 Series M Coupe. While the automaker decided against gracing its entry-level mode with an official "M1" designation -- in deference to its original M1 Supercar -- one look at the new M Coupe's mechanical specs and aggressive styling tweaks leaves no doubt about the exceptional efforts the go-fast M-meisters expended in creating a relatively affordable spiritual successor to the pioneering BMW M3 model. In Detroit, BMW revealed that the 2012 1 Series M Coupe will open at $47,010 -- which is $13,565 below the base price of the 2011 BMW M3 Coupe.
Great things come in small packages
Lurking under the hood of the 2012 BMW 1 Series M Coupe is a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged, direct-injected inline-six that makes 335 horsepower at 5,900 rpm and 332 lb-ft of torque from 1,500-4,500 rpm. However, a computer-controlled overboost function allows peak twist to hit 369 units under full-throttle acceleration. Backed by a close-ratio six-speed manual transmission that uses a dry-sump system for improved cooling, this free-revving six can send the 1 Series M Coupe from 0-60 mph in 4.7 seconds and on to an electronically limited top end of 155 mph.
Like other M cars, the 2012 BMW 1 Series M Coupe boasts M Drive, which sharpens throttle response at the touch of a steering-wheel mounted button. The car also is fitted with a variable M differential lock that can actively vector torque to the rear wheels from left to right as traction conditions dictate.
While sharing the same 104.7-inch wheelbase as a 135i Coupe, the M Coupe boasts increased front (+2.8 inches) and rear (+1.8 inches) track dimensions. Marginally longer and taller, it's also 2.1 inches wider and weighs 77 pounds less, a slim-down largely attributable to its steel-only top -- no sunroof here -- and more extensive use of aluminum in various chassis and structural elements. The car also wears 19-inch, staggered-width M-spec light-alloy cross-spoke wheels from the M3 Competition Package/GTS shod with 245/35 performance tires up front and 265/35 rubber at the rear.
In addition to a comprehensive M-grade retuning of its suspension settings and geometry to enhance precision and response, stopping power of the 1 Series M Coupe's is fortified by the fitment of huge anti-lock disc brakes, Beyond that, the M Coupe's handling arsenal includes BMW's Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) with M Dynamic Mode (MDM) that can permit a higher level of driver-induced oversteer before it begins its intervention or totally disable the DSC function, also at the push of a button.
Dressed to thrill
To properly complement to its stellar performance capabilities, BMW designers gave the 1 Series M Coupe an equally aggressive exterior treatment. Beneath the classic twin-kidney grille and standard Xenon Adaptive Headlamps with LED "eyebrow" accents, the M Coupe's bolder front fascia features three large intakes that send air to the engine, as well as to the oil and supplemental coolant radiators. It also incorporates the first use of a new drag-reducing aid that BMW calls "air curtains," evidenced by subtle inlet slots that channel air into and out of the front wheelwells then past the tires in a way that significantly reduces turbulence. The car's prominently flared front fenders carry the signature chrome M gill accents which also serve to anchor a character line that runs back to the Coupe-specific wide-body rear fenders. The revised rear fascia boasts its own "air-curtain-look" slots and a bespoke diffuser along with M-style twin-paired dual exhaust outlets plus a functional decklid spoiler lip.
While not blessed with a full M treatment, the well-appointed cabin of the 2012 BMW 1 Series M Coupe does have a distinctive performance character highlighted by numerous driver-focused upgrades. M-specific white-on-gray analog gauges with red needles, a leather-wrapped multifunction steering wheel, deeply-bolstered sport seats covered a Boston black leather with orange accent stitching and an aluminum driver footrest highlight the functional tweaks while glare-reducing black leather and Alcantara trim -- also with orange contrast stitching -- round out the look.