BMW 1M: Sweet Dream

BMW 1M

Inexplicably, BMW’s M140i hatch doesn’t sell amazingly well.

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It does okay, but not as well as a practical five-door hatch packing rear-wheel drive and a 250kW/500Nm 3.0-litre turbocharged six probably deserves to. It’s a cracking car. BMW has recently cut its price to just $59,990 in an attempt to lure buyers, but perhaps that’s the wrong approach?

Perhaps what it needs to do is make it much more expensive and a lot angrier. After all, its M-ified two-door sibling, the M2, is flying out of showrooms, BMW Australia having to beg for more local allocation twice since its April 2016 launch.

Giving the 1 Series the M treatment would not only make it a more able competitor for the likes of the Audi RS3 and Mercedes-AMG A45, but it would provide a fitting farewell for the rear-drive hot hatch, as the next-generation 1 Series is expected to adopt front-wheel drive. Boo.

A certain 1970s supercar means the M1 badge is off limits, but the 1M name has some capital in Australia, with the 100 previous-gen, manual-only coupes quickly selling out.

Here’s how we’d do it

More power!
Rather than retrofit the tuned-up N55 from the M2, it would be easier to merely extract an extra 22kW from the new B58. Such a small power bump might seem insufficient when the M140i musters 250kW/500Nm, but it doesn’t seem to be hurting the M2.

Even more power!
For those who do want more, there’s no reason why BMW couldn’t follow the example set by the forthcoming M2 Competition and install the detuned S55 twin-turbo 3.0-litre six from the M3/M4 for a tyre-tearing 300kW/520Nm. Gearboxes in both models would be a choice of seven-speed dual-clutch or six-speed manual.

Ground work
While power outputs are similar, the performance differential between regular BMWs and M-cars is night and day. At BFYB 2016, the M2 Pure was 4.5sec faster around Winton than the M135i. This is thanks to wider tracks, bigger brakes and an extra 20mm of Michelin rubber at each corner. While the 1M’s all-wheel drive rivals would have an advantage off the line, in terms of lap speed it would be no contest.

Spec-tacular
Just as with the M2, a back-to-basics, manual-only Pure would open the range with the standard car adding adaptive dampers, the dual-clutch gearbox and extra kit such as premium audio, keyless entry and go and electric seats.

Filling the gaps
With the M2 Pure’s recent price bump to $93,300, it allows room for the 1M Pure to slot in at $90,900 and the standard 1M to slightly undercut the M2 at $97,900. Topping the range would be the $107,900 1M Competition; massive money for a three-door but the fastest rear-driver with a hatch this side of an AMG C63 S Estate.

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