BMW Drive Thru

Drive Thru: BMW 1 Series M Coupé


Regular readers will know Australian deliveries of the BMW 1 Series M Coupé have been taking place over the past week or two. One has even ended up in our hometown of Canberra. AUSmotive was lucky enough to be offered a brief drive thanks to owners John and Dianne.

First impressions? It’s a great looking car. You really do just want to get in and drive the thing as soon as you see it.

You either love or hate the design of the 1 Series range; there are rarely any middling opinions. We’ve always admired the way the 1 Series Coupé looks and with M division offering unique styling cues, like those almost comically beefed up guards and an aggressive body kit, we think the 1M has reached a new peak.

The special order black wheels on John and Dianne’s car look superb as well. They complement the already gutsy presence the 1M has from factory.



Inside, too, there’s a sense of purpose and occasion when you settle in behind the wheel. Once again, the look has been given a subtle, but important, nudge over standard 1 Series trim. The seats are supportive without being too firm, the M steering wheel feels tough and the flashes of alcantara trim really set the car apart from lesser models.

Our time in the 1M was brief—more on that later—but we made use of our home ground advantage to seek out a fun twisty route, as well as some coarse bumpy stuff, to best judge the car’s ride and handling in the time available.

In general terms, the ride is harsh in the 1M, but no more so than you would expect. At town speeds the car drives smoothly, it’s compliant and moves effortlessly through the gears.

The engine has a strong linear feel and it delivers a great snarling sound, too. Although, like most modern cars, that exhaust note doesn’t make it all the way into the cabin. You’ll need to stand outside the car for best effect. Yeah, we agree, there’s no fun in that when there’s a chance to be behind the wheel.



When we arrived at the start of our short mountain run I faced a quandary. Alongside, the 1M’s owner, happy the eight-month wait for his car was finally over. Ahead, a section of blacktop I know well, where I can pinpoint every apex and every bump. Like a spotty kid on a first date with a hot girl, I had to find a way to get to first base, and perhaps beyond, without her parents finding out.

With that little M button pushed to sharpen the car’s senses and a nervous energy I pressed on. In doing so I soon discovered the 1M provides the confidence to go chasing for more. When you do, you may find the front a little skittish over mid-corner bumps, but not desperately so. I was surprised at how eager the fun police were to illuminate on the dash. There was plenty left in reserve as far as my right foot was concerned, that’s for sure. Thankfully, though, the DSC was not too intrusive at all.

At all times we found the steering to have a really nice weight. It’s precise and direct, too. Likewise the gear shift; on the right side of notchy and, much like the car really, it provides a genuine sense of competence.



As noted, power delivery from the 250kW twin turbo 3.0 litre six is linear. If you choose, you will get where you’re going in a flash, while building momentum slowly. That’s to say, there’s no untoward slingshot effect that can afflict some boosted motors. As a result, unless you redline the thing from standstill there’s not a huge rush of raw pace. This is not intended as a criticism, rather a blessing of the car’s versatility. It can be as naughty as it can be nice.

Prior to launch there’s been two main criticisms of the 1M. The first is its kerbweight. At 1495kg it’s actually not that bad. Around 80kg lighter than an Audi RS3 (not offered in Australia) and more than 180kg lighter than the M3. The 1M doesn’t feel heavy and it is much more willing to be thrown into a corner than we remember the 135i being. The second main criticism is the theory the 1M is a spare parts car and not a proper M car. Sure it’s been cobbled together with some very tasty M3 bits and borrows its engine from the Z4 sDrive35is. But so what. Who really cares if the 1M is the first M-badged Bimmer that doesn’t feature an M-specific engine. The 1M’s raison d’être is to serve the enthusiast market. On this first viewing, BMW has delivered in spades.

I mentioned earlier our time in the 1M was brief. That’s the thing with the 1M, you see, it wouldn’t matter how much time you had in the car, we get the feeling it will always leave you wanting more. We certainly experienced enough to know we’d love to have a 1M in the garage at AUSmotive HQ.

We’d like to close by making a comparison that BMW would never have considered and we acknowledge it may be a little left-field. The 1M reminded us of Keith Miller. A former Australian Test cricketer and Victorian footballer from the post-war period, Miller had charisma to burn. Dashing good looks, a razor sharp wit and the athletic ability to match. Men wanted to be like him and women wanted to be with him. Respected by teammates and opponents alike, Miller was an all-rounder in the truest sense. He could do it all.


27 replies on “Drive Thru: BMW 1 Series M Coupé”

Enjoyed it, too, Liam — and the Keith Miller metaphor? Well, I’m reminded that he also liked a drink!

Hope to see the car around town

The key to why this car is so good is the suspension. It wouldn’t be hard to get a 135i with an N54 up to, and past, similar engine performance. It’s the M bits underneath, modified steering rack and sweet sweet wider track that make it the cracker it is…

There’s four coming to Canberra, and Rolfe are putting in for some of the extra allocation. Not sure if they’ll get it, though.

There is already one in Canberra ; ) keep your eyes out, it is a daily driver.

It came up from Vic well before Rolfe’s cars are deliver next month, I believe.

I’ve done 1500km in my 1M and owned the first 135i in Australia for over three years so can compare the two. I agree with your review in all respects but the point I’d like to make is the engineering in the 1M seems of a better quality than the 135i. The doors close thumpier, there are no rattles from the glove box, the sound system doesn’t distort, the gearbox is smoother. It’s just a better engineered car as well as a better/faster drive. It’s almost as if it comes from a different factory!!

Hi guys
First 1M vehicle just arrived in NZ. the Press have it booked out currently then its in a road show around the dealers
I have the exact alpine white ,black wheels on order for August delivery here in NZ
Will set up with ‘carbon’ front splitter, rear spoiler, mirror covers and set in a couple of black bonnet vents (M3) and, might even paint the roof black – should look hot-er!
cant wait now I’ve seen you car – great pic.

hey all,
as per Dai above, i too have a 1M on order (due July!!) in black.
my question is this: i’ve read mention from above comments that the black wheels were available as special orders. however, when i placed my order, i was told that black wheels were not an option, and had to have it painted locally. can someone please confirm either way?

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