While attending the 2011 Detroit Auto Show, our team at BMWBLOG had the opportunity to participate in a workshop with Dr. Kay Segler, BMW M CEO. Being one of the most hyped BMWs in the past year, the 1M is gathering lots of attention from BMW’s current and future customers, as well as fans around the world.

Many information around the 1 Series M Coupe have been already communicated and our extensive coverage of the new baby-M began several months ago, but in Detroit, we learned more about the car, both from a technology, engineering and marketing perspective.

Here are some of the things we have learned during our conversation with Dr. Segler.

BMW 1 Series M Coupe Detroit Auto Show 83 655x435

What is the nearest competitor?

Nearest competitor is probably the Porsche Cayman S, however, no competitors were considered when building the car – the purpose was to build cars the customers would want to drive.

Why a low volume M?

The idea is to keep resale value as high as possible. creating an instant classic.


Price was a serious driver of this car – it was a distinct effort to create an E30 M3 soul successor.

The 1M in a single phrase.

The 1M is basically a truncated M3 Competition Package with a manual.

Development of the engine.

The development time of the engine was very short – engineers took only about a year to build it if not less, beginning in October 2009. In December 2009 the decision was made to build the 1M. Dr. segler championed the project and made all major decisions. Took around 1 year to develop and test the car. M cars utilize the Nurburgring circuit for extensive testing. All the testing needed to be completed in Spring and Summer before bad weather starts. He said the engineers and designers worked very, very hard to complete the project. Dr. Segler was emotional and had a few tears the first time he saw the car in completed form. In a broken voice, he said, “we need to build this car”.

The 1M is powered by the N4 twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter I-6 engine. For the 1M, the turbocharger, exhaust system, and ECU have been revised to produce 335 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque, though up to 369 pound-feet are available temporarily in overboost mode. Redline is found at 7000 rpm.

Why Valencia Orange?

Ironically, the 1M was first presented to Dr. Segler in Valencia Orange and it was so good that the color made it to the production model. As a fun fact, we observed Dr. Segler was wearing a new Rolex Milgauss which had a black dial with orange second hand and dash marks. True love for the color scheme…

1M design.

The fascia looks like a car built within a car. The car was built with very little changes to be made from the concept to the production model. There will be no convertible version and no other transmission or option for a sunroof. Weight savings came through minimal options.

When Dr. K join BMW M he drove several M models. He was inspired by the E30 M3 EVO. He liked how the car felt.

1M customer demographic.

Dr. Segler said many car manufactures are not listening to their young customers and only build expensive super sports cars. Recognized there was a need to produce an affordable M car for younger enthusiasts. This car shows BMW is listening to what customers want. He hopes the 1M will inspire young future engineers and designers to want to work on cars and hopefully BMW.

“is” vs. M cars?

Dr. Segler was clear cut on this. “is” badged cars are not M cars. M cars are race cars. The car is M pure. It’s not about just power and hp. This car is about road holding because of M3 suspension components. You do not need more power in this car. M button on steering wheel offers a more aggressive throttle response by changing engine mapping of N54B30TO engine.

The engine background.

The engine software tuning was done by BMW race car engineers. It took a very long time to get it just right. From October ’09 to December ’10. Dr. Segler is confident with N54 1M engine reliability.

This engine had to pass bench and Nürburgring track tests for reliability before it was signed off by BMW M to be used in the 1 Series M Coupe.

He said the closest part of track in America, that resembles the Ring, is the kink at Road America. He said multiply that times 70 corners over 13 miles and you will see why it demands so much from a car.

Production and markets.

Official production starts May 2011. Cars will be delivered to China market as well. Dr. Segler said there is no limit on how many 1M’s can be built. This is the first M car to be built in Leipzig plant – alongside 1-Series models.

Marketing and the teasing show.

The three “teaser” videos produced over 2.8 million clicks. That shows there was a lot of interest and excitement for this car.

Information above was provided by our editor Andrew Murphy and collaborator Misha Nikolich.