While most manufacturers adopt an approach of slow, progressive evolution in the design of their products (think VW Golf, Porsche 911) BMW was one that seemed to have changed its tune overnight.
In the 1990s BB (Before Bangle), there was a nice simplicity to things: you had your bread-and-butter saloon, 3-Series, the up-the-ladder executive’s choice 5-Series, the 7-Series for the company boss and for the weekends, the Z3 roadster. There were some gems along the way too, like the 8-Series grand tourer and muscle-bodied M Coupe. Aesthetically, all typical BMW styling that looks like a sleek fitted suit, garnished with those trademark kidney grilles and twin headlamps.
And then in 2002 we woke up to the peculiar new 7-Series. Weird proportions and creases like one of those supposedly trendy “creased look” shirts from Truworths gave it an awkward, chunky look in comparison to the svelte looking previous version. Different, certainly – but let’s be honest: BMWs are supposed to be serious and conventional.
The 7 was the first of many Bangle-penned oddities that followed. There was a revival of the shark-nosed 6-Series, which hardly looked as menacing as the original – with a round, dolphin-like front-end as opposed to the slant-nose shark-like face of the 80s model. And the 2003 5-Series, with awkward looking kinks and creases in its body, giving it the appearance of a shirt ironed by a 3-year old – as noted by Jeremy Clarkson in one of hos reviews.
Then came the 1-Series – the first BMW hatchback aimed at the likes of the established Volkswagen Golf, Ford Focus and Opel Astra. Some said that the 1-Series looked like a miniature bread van, but despite this, the little has enjoyed great success in the market, becoming a popular sight on the roads. A coupe and convertible variation has given the 1-Series a more conventional appearance – these have typically perfect BMW proportions unlike the mad Bangle designs from a few years ago.
May 2011 will see BMW harking back to their raw M roots with the outrageous looking 1-Series M Coupe.In my opinion, Its reminiscent of models like the E36 M3 and the original M Coupe of the 90s – really rough-and-tumble BMWs with brutal, unadulterated power. The new 1-Series M Coupe bears the visual theatrics of those legendary bygone models: it has fat tyres, a bulging body kit and four large tailpipes – rounded off by the easily identifiable M trademark side-mirrors.
It is certainly proof that BMW have not gone soft in this era of eco-friendliness.
But this is not to say that the 1-Series M Coupe has a total irreverence for the environment: BMW have incorporated the usual host of EfficientDynamics technologies into the Coupe, increasing frugality and all-round economy.
And you’re going to want to be economical if you’re paying the fuel bills on a beast like this, with 250-kilowatts of power nestling beneath the hood. The 1-Series M Coupe is fitted with a three-litre in-line six-cylinder engine, with “MTwinPower” turbochargers and some tweaks here and there to improve power. It is essentially the same powerplant used in models like the BMW 335i. But, being smaller than a 3-Series, this 1-series M Coupe will have a better power-to-weight ratio – promising to rocket from 0 to 100 in under 5 seconds. Attesting to the idea that this is a bona fide BMW drivers’ car, the M Coupe does not receive a semi-automatic gearbox, but a proper 6-speed manual transmission for that involving feel.
The interior remains as you would find it on a normal 1-Series Coupe, but with a few add-ons here and there to give it that M car exclusivity. You get orange stitching on the seats and dashboard, M logos on the headrests,the steering wheel and on the rev counter. It has that air of sophistication though – this, after all, is a choice sports coupe – not a boy racer hatchback for the masses.
Expect units of the 1-Series M Coupe to be swiftly snapped up when they arrive on South African shores in May – this looks like a future M-badged classic.