"This is a parts-bin car, from the ground up," explained MotorAuthority editor Nelson Ireson in his First Drive of the 1-Series M Coupe. "Read the spec sheet, and there are only a handful of parts actually unique to the car—and those are mostly body panels." The 1-Series M might borrow its go-fast bits from other BMW models, but it's all good stuff: its 335-horsepower N54 twin-turbo in-line six has been proven in a number of the Bavarian automaker's products; and it gets brakes, differential, and wheels directly from the M3. Completing the picture, and adding more visual punch, are a set of appearance enhancements that Ireson says cancel out any stealth factor and make it "all curves and bulges, grilles and tips."
The tradeoff is that the 1M is heavy for a compact coupe—even though engineers worked to shave some of the weight off. That said, its performance hardware and brilliantly tuned suspension allow very little body roll and a responsive, balanced feel—with a light driving feel that reminded our tester of the 1990s-era E36 M3. But just as in BMW's other M cars, the stability control system comes with more relaxed settings that won't slow you down on the track—including a Dynamic Mode as well as a full-performance track mode.
To read more about what makes the 2011 BMW 1-Series M worth an extra ten grand or more over the standard versions, read all of that First Drive, then visit our full review of the 2011 BMW 1-Series for all the practical bits, like safety, design, specs, features and options—plus more pictures.