BMW introduced the 2011 BMW 1 Series M Coupe at the North America International (Detroit) Auto Show with Dr Kay Segler, president of BMW M GmbH, BMW’s fabled high-performance division, yesterday giving a select number of auto writers a rundown not only on the mechanical details that make the 1 Series M Coupe special but also the reason for its being.
It would have been easy, according to Dr Segler, for BMW’s M division to build another uber performance car, but Dr said they perceived a need for a less expensive model for the younger enthusiast with pockets not deep as to be able to afford a supercar. Therefore the 1 Series M Coupe was designed to have everything a relatively inexpensive—at almost $50,000—needs with nothing it doesn’t.
The BMW 1 Series M Coupe doesn’t have, for example, a sunroof. They won’t build it that way even for anyone who wants it because it adds weight at the very top of the vehicle, which is bad for handling. A six-speed manual transmission is standard equipment with no other choices available.
While radical modifications have not been made, such as a carbon fiber roof which would have driven the cost of the BMW 1 Series M Coupe, well, through the roof, the two-door weighs less than the standard 1 Series Coupe.
Part of the weight reduction comes from the aluminum-intensive suspension of the BMW M3 that’s been adapted to the 1 Series M Coupe. The 1 Series M Coupe also borrows the brakes from the BMW M3, though Dr Segler notes that with about 400 lbs less to stop (than the M3), they’re just that much more effective. The BMW 1 Series M Coupe weighs 3,295 lbs.
BMW’s M Division also kept costs down by using an engine in BMW’s toolbox. For the BMW 1 Series M Coupe, that means the 335 horsepower inline six also used in the 335is and the Z4is roadster. As to putting a V-8 under the hood, it simply won’t fit
The 2011 BMW 1 Series M Coupe is easily distinguished from the standard 1 Series 135i Coupe not only with its wider stance but, from the rear, its quad tailpipes, a M series trademark. The front fascia is significantly changed, the large scoops immediately to the sides of the lower grille feed oil and water coolers and cool the front brakes. Vertical slits at the front lower corners are “air curtains,” blowing air out in front of the front tires to smooth airflow around the front tires. It’s using air to make the 1 Series M Coupe aerodynamic.
In interest of keeping costs down, BMW M limited the electronic handling assists on the 2011 BMW 1 Series M Coupe to the standard Dynamic Stability Control with an M Dynamic Mode that loosens the stability profile, allowing sportier driving without an electroinic hand slap. Responsiveness of the electronic throttle is also increase. A friction non-electronic limited slip differential is also
The 1 Series M Coupe is limited to three colors, white, black and a pumpkin orange that Dr. Segler predicts will become a BMW –icon-. Inside the orange 1 Series M Coupes, the black upholstery will be accented with matching orange stitching.
The function of the 2011 BMW 1 SEries M Coupe goes beyond just making an inexpensive–by BMW standards–high performance coupe. Segler also hoped it will lure young engineers away from other engineering temptaions and to automotive engineering. In that regard, he said that he wanted other manufacturers to build the same kind of car, whether BMW’s German rivals or American domestic automakers or other car manufacturers. There’s enough demand, he believes, for all and everyone to prosper.
BMW won’t limit the number of 1 Series M Coupe but will shift production as necessary. The 2011 BMW 1 Series M Coupe will go on sale worldwide in May (even in China, Ziegler noted) with a U.S. price of $47,010.