2011 BMW 1-Series M Coupe First Drive

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You may have already read reviews of the 2011 BMW 1-Series M Coupe (aka 1M), but if you have, you've likely suffered through strained historical analogies, detailed comparisons to previous M cars, and sheets of performance data. You'll find a minimum of that here. Instead, I offer you a fellow enthusiast's take on the car, filtered through the desire for a nimble, focused, affordable car that'll get you to work and get you seat time at the track with equal ease and ability.

The forum for my analysis: the official BMW North American press launch, held en route to and at Monticello Motor Club, where BMW brought me briefly to test the car. It was a limited day-long engagement, restricted to a few hours of open road driving and a dozen or so stop-and-go laps. Not enough time for a full evaluation, but enough to get the overall feel of the car.

Nuts & bolts

This is a parts-bin car, from the ground up. Read the spec sheet, and there are only a handful of parts actually unique to the car--and those are mostly body panels. The 335-horsepower, 369-pound-feet of torque (in overboost) N54 twin-turbo inline six under the hood is found in the new sDrive35is models, and is itself a hotter version of the engine that drove most of BMW's lineup before the revised, refined, twin-scroll/single-turbo N55 came along last year.

That's not to say the 1-Series M Coupe is merely the sum of its parts. Borrowing brakes, differential, and wheels from the M3, adding its own unique take on M Dynamic Mode (MDM) and its full-performance track mode, as well as an aggressively relaxed stability/dynamics control system, the 1-Series M Coupe is, in fact, the M car I'd buy if I were going to buy one.

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