BMW is developing plans for a hot entry-level M model based on a new saloon version of the second-generation 1-series. The compact four-door seeks to offer BMW with a direct rival to the future Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG and Audi S3 saloon. The new BMW is expected to feature a 2.0-litre turbo engine with a minimum of 300bhp.
But due to the heavy engineering workload that faces BMW on current new model development, the compact M Performance saloon won’t probably arrive at the UK until the second half of 2015 at the earliest. A high-ranking BMW source said that they’re “actively considering it.” He added that the company believes that the market would likely grow quickly and that the company would already have started production if it had the capacity.
According to internal BMW studies, there will be high growth in the compact performance saloon segment in the major high-volume markets like China and North America. Since the S3 saloon and CLA45 AMG are expected to arrive before the end of 2013, BMW officials hope to fast-track the new model, probably with contracted engineering, according to sources from automotive component suppliers.
A source said that the decision to create plans for an M Performance saloon that would lead prices. This stems from the incredible success of the limited-run 1-series M Coupé and the praises earned by the 315bhp six-cylinder M135i hatch. A source said that there has been a wholesale shift in the market and that the traditional M models, the M3 and M5, have become much bigger, more powerful, with better equipment and with naturally higher prices throughout the years. They still get solid sales but they’ve decided to focus on the more affordable aspect of the performance range.
BMW’s new 1-Series M Coupe was developed for a large, square footprint and near-perfect balance. It is 71 inches wide, making it 4.8 inches wider than its ancestor, the 1988 M3. However, its 172.4-inch length makes it only 1.3 inches longer. The BMW 1-Series M Coupe also weighs 1,495 kg DIN and features a 104.7-inch wheelbase, which is 3 inches longer compared to the 1988 M3. Its track widths at the front and rear are exactly the same at 60.7 inches.
Compared to BMW’s 2011 135i Coupe, the 1-Series M Coupe is longer by 0.2 inch, wider by 2.1 inches, and taller by 0.5 inch. Both, however, ride on the same 104.7-inch wheelbase. Moreover, the BMW 1-Series M Coupe features a track that is 2.8 inches wider up front as well as 1.8 inches wider in the rear. It also weighs 35kg DIN less than the 2011 135i.
In addition, the new 1-Series M Coupe boasts a high-strength steel unibody that features unique and widened fenders as well as widened rear quarter panels in order to contain its substantially widened track. The car also sports a metal roof panel that saves it around 15kg compared to the BMW 1-Series models that sport a moon roof.
The 2011 1-Series M Coupe, which was built as one of the carmaker’s most performance-oriented vehicles recently, won’t be offered with a moon roof. Saving on the weight allows for a corresponding drop in its center of gravity. This lessened center of gravity, in turn, helps improve driving dynamics. Moreover, it helps maximize the head room.