I’ve had this discussion with many of my friends. And most of them share my sentiments: BMW M models of late have grown slightly sedate, becoming more clinical and refined, renouncing that essence of hooliganism that M-badged beauties of past held.
Just take a look at the E36 M3 next time you’re on an outing in Fordsburg. It’s got that svelte, shark-like shape that characterised BMWs of the 90s – with the bite to match: 236kw delivered through a traditionally BMW straight-six 3.2 litre powerplant. Lucky owners of this classic Beemer tell me it begs to be driven, that the road beckons, compelling them to unleash the power of the straight-six through the car’s rear wheels. And I can believe this – having trawled the internet on many occasions for a bit of my own Motorsport magic, seeking an E36 M3 with less than 100 000kms on the odometer with no results.
In comparison to its predecessors, the present M3 looks bloated and heavy – it reminds me of the poignant images taken of Elvis Presley on stage way past his prime, in those last stages of his life. It’s become more of a lazy muscle car than an agile rear-wheel drive razor sharp tool with which to dominate sinuous stretches of road.
Another notable, raw-power Beemer bearing the M badge was the M Coupe. I remember vividly how dazzled I was when my uncle – then a motoring journalist himself – brought one home for review. It wore a striking silver paint job, had four large tailpipes at the rear and little gills on the side of each fender. Quite simply, a Z3 Coupe on steroids. I still stare as wistfully as I did as a 7 year old whenever I see one today – it’s especially disheartening since ownership of an original M Coupe or E36 M3 would never be possible: as much as I love these cars, I wouldn’t want to squander my income on maintenance (which I hear is damn exorbitant). And, being pretty inept when it comes to tinkering beneath the hood, I wouldn’t bother attempting to repair and service one of these Bavarian beasts myself.
But I’ve found something else to aspire to: the 1-Series M Coupe. Set to arrive in May, the M Coupe looks like a little monster reminiscent of those mental M models of the past.
“M-Technik” DNA is prominent here: there are side mirrors which seem to have been borrowed from the larger M3, wide wheel arches complemented by an aggressive looking bodykit, fat tyres and four tailpipes at the rear. Thankfully, there are two other colours available in addition to the lurid orange job you see pictured. You have a choice of Alpine White or Sapphire Black. I imagine the Coupe would look pretty sinister in the latter shade.
The M Coupe is powered by an in-line 6-cylinder engine. But unlike the M3 and M5 models, which are both naturally aspirated, the M Coupe is aided by forced induction. It’s got the same twin-turbo powerplant you’d find in a 335i, but with a few tweaks here and there. The result is 250 kilowatts and 450 Newton metres of torque – sounds tasty. According to BMW, the M Coupe will dart from 0 to 100 in 4.9 seconds. Expect an involving drive – there’s no SMG semi-automatic ‘box available in the M Coupe, just a good ol’ manual transmission with 6 gears.
Ok, so it isn’t all unadulterated, raw power: the M Coupe comes with a host of electronic driver aids.
There are too many acronyms to mention, but lesser drivers can rest soundly in the knowledge that the tiny wizards in the Coupe’s control centre will spare damage to their egos, should things turn messy in one of those moments where the M badge deludes you into thinking that you’re Michael Schumacher.
Inside, it’s the standard BMW M-car affair – a blend of dark, posh-looking materials with very subtle hints to its performance prowess. Nothing too garish: there’s a small M logo on the steering wheel, M logos embossed on the front headrests and bucket seats in black “Boston” leather. For those who love their tech, Apple’s iPhone and iPod products can be connected to the audio system and controlled through the iDrive menu. And those ubiquitous BlackBerry mobiles can also be hooked-up to the M Coupe, allowing e-mails to be displayed on-screen via Bluetooth.
This is probably going to be the cheapest new M car. An authentic M car I mean – not a 116i or 320i with the “M Package” as many like to get.
The press release says that the 1-Series M Coupe will arrive in May. Better start scrounging around for a decent deposit now.
Photo Credit: Quickpic