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BMW 1-Series M

Ignore the crazy disguise. This firebreather evokes memories of the first M3!

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

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BMW believes the M Coupé is a true successor to the first M3 – and it’s as close to that legendary machine as the company has come. Mixing a beefed-up body with a 335bhp 3.0-litre twin-turbo and the current M3’s transmission is a recipe that results in a stunningly fast yet engaging car that’s full of character.

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MEET the mightiest 1-Series ever! This is the new M Coupé – a hot flagship that seeks to deliver the M Sport DNA into BMW’s smallest car. It won’t be launched until next year, but we headed to the firm’s Munich HQ to put a pre-production
version through its paces.

All the swirly camouflage can’t disguise the baby M-car’s powerful looks. It’s low and imposing, thanks to an 80mm wider track and inflated wheelarches, which cover huge 19-inch alloys, attached to the M3’s limited-slip diff at the rear. The car’s back-to-basics approach means the sole transmission option is the M3’s six-speed manual gearbox, while there will be no adaptive damping, and there is only one setting for the differential.

On the move, the car doesn’t disappoint. With two relatively small turbos, the 335bhp 3.0-litre straight-six has lots of punch at low revs, while in the mid-range, acceleration is storming. No figures are available, but we’d estimate 0-60mph in around five seconds.

The rear-drive chassis is up to the job, too. The wide stance aids stability and allows the car to corner quickly, with little roll.

Yet it seems to ride well, too. The steering is super-quick and the nose darts into a corner. It feels very rear-wheel drive, and you really notice the M differential at work. Stopping power is impressive, too, but it’s the stability under heavy braking that stands out. In all, it’s an engaging car that won’t hold any fears for the uninitiated.

That should suit the intended target audience. The German manufacturer wants to get younger buyers into M-cars, and so it considers the Coupé as a value-for-money proposition.

At an estimated £40,000, it’s certainly not cheap, but does offer the same punch as a similarly priced Porsche Cayman S. Standard spec should be quite generous, with the equipment from the current range-topper, the 135i M Sport, likelyto be boosted by unique bucket seats, a new M steering wheel and fresh light-grey instruments – at the very least.

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