I have a confession to make. I own a 135i and I like it. I even like the looks of the 135i over its 3 series sibling. (I know, blasphemy.) But the car has the right size, right power, and the right combination of comfort and handling that I had wanted for a long time.
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I’ve mildly modded the car (Koni FSDs, Conti ExtremeContactDWs, E93 M3 front anti-sway bar, but NO engine mods at all – it has all the torque I need, thank you). But my big regret was not taking delivery of the 135i in Europe.
Now, BMW is tempting me again, with the M version of the 1er (politically correctly named the 1M, not M1). But BMW is being stingy with the details, preferring to string us along and ‘water torture’ (drip, drip, drip) us with tidbits of information. In reality BMW is becoming a past master at using social media to generate buzz for its lineup, and the demographic that uses social media is squarely in the sights of BMW for the 1M.
So what’s a guy to do, they aren’t spilling the beans and I want to know what the 1M really is. I guess I’ll have to speculate a bit.
Up front I suspect they’ll use the N54 cylinder head with the twinscroll turbo found on the N55. Why? I think that the Valvetronic gear in the N55 head is less adaptable to the mission of the car or cannot be adapted in time for the launch – software is a big piece of making it work. There’s online speculation that the N55 cylinder head will be the starting point of the next M3 engine.
Since the 1er is based on the same platform matrix as the current 3er, the suspension bits developed for the M3 are available for use in the 1M. That means that there’s a very strong possibility that the M3 parts bin will be raided to build out the 1M’s suspension. All the nice aluminum M3 bits fit.
There’s talk that the car will only be available with a manual transmission and again this may be an issue with software. Engine management and the transmission software will have to talk to each other and there may not be time to sort it out prior to release of the production vehicle. That may mean that the engine in the 1M is significantly different than the one in the 335is. But the buzz on the manual only is mixed, it may keep some from putting the 1M on a short list to buy. That doesn’t bother me, I’ve never owned anything but manual tranny cars (since I don’t consider the wife’s cars mine).
One thing Dr. Segler mentioned in the interview with BMWBLOG, was that the car has to be multi-functional, rather than a single purpose sports car. Does this hint at an ‘active’ suspension? Regardless, the 1M should be to the 135i as the E46 M3 was to the E46 330i ZHP. One step above – a knife edged version of an already suitably sporty car. But, from an enthusiast’s perspective, the really good news, that is actually revealed, is that it will have an honest-to-god limited slip differential. Hooray!
While the buzz online has been relatively positive, other than the fan-boys of other marques that will always find something wrong about any BMW, there is an undercurrent of “I can build a 135i out that’s better than a 1M”. The 1M will be a hard sell if BMW doesn’t clearly differentiate it from the 135i or can’t clearly communicate why it is better than any 135i that’s been ‘tuned’ with aftermarket pieces. That is an imperative! And I believe that if BMW ignores it, it will be at their peril.
So the 1M has piqued my interest, I have to determine whether or not it makes sense. I don’t track the current car, not sure that I want to (how about a Lotus 7 clone – that’d work!). So if the suspension is harsher than I want it’ll make the decision harder. What about price? Currently the base M3 coupe has an MSRP of about 126% of the base 335i coupe. Taking the 126% as a multiplier for the current 135i, the price may be in the $45,775 range, which tracks with a lot of the buzz on price.
So will BMW tempt me to buy again, this time with an M car that I can pick up in Europe. We’ll have to wait and see . . .