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First look: 2012 BMW 1 Series M Coupe

A Pyrat raises the flag.

by on Dec.09, 2010

Finally, an undisguised version of the 2012 BMW 1-Series M Coupe, once codenamed Pyrat.

Here it comes. Finally.  The 2012 BMW 1-Series M Coupe is arguably the industry’s worst-kept secret.  But now we can finally release the details and reveal the first pictures of the smallest M-performance model ever from the Bavarians.

It’s hard to recall when the first words began to leak out of Munich suggesting the 1 M was under development – BMW opting for the awkward nomenclature to avoid any confusion with the legendary M1 supercar, designed by Giugiaro and developed by Lamborghini, whose very name has been retired.

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Early in the year a disguised 1-Series – then known by the codename Pyrat — with distinctive trim suggesting it was not your ordinary coupe was spotted exercising at Germany’s Nürburgring.  Then, in August, during the 25th anniversary celebration of the M3, at the Ascari Race resort, in Spain, an even less camouflaged version was rolled out and we were given our first ride.

The 1m marks BMW's first foray into the compact performance segment.

Two months later, a nearly production-ready model – albeit still with a jet black paint job and eye-baffling white circles – was turned over to TheDetroitBureau.com for a quick drive.

(For more on that first drive, Click Here.)

Now comes phase 4 of this carefully stage-managed launch, the last before the actual production car makes its official debut at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, on January 10.

Quad exhaust pipes distinguish the rear of the 2012 BMW 1-Series M Coupe.

What we find is a coupe that maintains the basic side profile of the 1-Series, though the nose appears lowered and more aggressive.  From the front, the not-so-subtle tweaks mean the 1M comes out bearing a more than subtle resemblance to the Z4M.  The most notable differences from the stock 1-er can be found in the oversized scoops under the bumper.

This will be the first time BMW M GmbH has come up with an M-variant in the compact 2-door segment. The 1 Series M Coupe is designed to deliver racing-oriented performance in a car that has been developed for daily driving.

A few subtle tweaks designed to give the cabin of the 1-Series M Coupe a more sporty feel.

Translation: a twin-turbo version of the BMW N54 3.0-liter inline-six upgraded to around 335 horsepower.  That should be enough to launch the 2012 1-Series M Coupe from 0 to 60 in the mid-4 second range, with an electronically-limited top speed of around 150 mph.  Curiously, the 1M is making about 74 hp less than the M3, but at 370, 75 more lb-ft than the bigger car’s V8.

A six-speed manual appears to be the only gearbox on the horizon.  There are no plans for an automatic or twin-clutch manumatic.

A nice touch is the integration of the steering wheel-mounted “M” button.  First see on the 2006 M5, it instantly recalibrates the throttle for the maximum sporty response.  The M exhaust system — which feeds through quad tailpipes — was acoustically engineered to deliver the full-throated roar you’d expect of the 1M.

Partially disguised, we got our first drive of the 2012 BMW 1-Series M Coupe last October.

It was BMW’s clear goal to reach younger customers interested in driving an M car that is affordable.  While we’ll likely not hear a final price for some time, the figure being hinted at is 53,000 Euros.  If the Germans were to carry over the hefty exchange rate penalty, that would mean something close to $70,000 to $75,000 in the States.  But don’t be surprised to see BMW hold the price in check, with a U.S. list price closer to $60,000.

Incidentally, there have been rumors that a special American edition of the BMW 1-Series M Coupe could be in the works, and numbers running around 445 hp have been freely bandied about.  Perhaps there’ll be more surprises to be found at the Detroit Auto Show, next month.

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