If pushed to name BMW’s most convincing sports car, many would walk past the mighty M5
They would ignore the powerhouse M3, pause briefly to admire the lines of the Z4 and end up at the baby of the range, the 1 Series Coupe.
With a selection of fantastic engines and the draw of a fully-fledged and awesomely capable M model at the top end, the two-door 1 Series demonstrates once again that light is right at £21,960-£39,990.
You’ll find no weed-whacker engines in the 1 Series Coupe line up. BMW has pruned the entry-level powerplants from the range and left just the stars.
That means diesel buyers will gravitate towards the astonishing 123d while petrol customers won’t be able to resist the twin-turbo 135i.
Some facts and figures. The 123d makes 204bhp, serves up a monster stein of mid range torque, gets to 60mph in 6.8 seconds yet will still average over 55mpg. Choose the 306bhp 135i and it’s a real pocket rocket, requiring 5 seconds to get to 60mph en route to an electronically limited 155mph top end.
135i customers also get BMW’s electronic differential lock which electronically slows the spinning inside rear wheel to enhance vehicle traction when the car is accelerating hard out of corners or tight bends. In this situation, it electronically slows the spinning inside rear wheel to enhance vehicle traction and ensure that all available power is transferred to the road.
The 1 Series M Coupe flagship has the chops to back up its aggressively squat, wide-arched stance. With that familiar twin-turbo six under the bonnet tweaked to develop a maximum output of 340bhp and with enough about it to guarantee zero to 60mph in just 4.7 seconds, it’s quicker around the Nurburgring Nordschleife than the previous generation E46 BMW M3. If funds won’t stretch to these three headliners, you’ll need to choose between the 170bhp 120i or the 218bhp 125i petrol models or, if you want a diesel, the 142bhp 118d or the 177bhp 120d.
The latest 1 Series Coupe gets a revised front bumper with redesigned fog lights and Halogen headlights with an ‘eyebrow’ element. When Xenon headlights are specified this ‘eyebrow element features an LED illuminated light bar. The rear lights have also been updated.
Buyers of ES, SE and Sport models also get the Aero Curtain feature. This routes air through two ducts in the front apron and jets it out of the wheelarch, shrouding the front wheels, reducing drag and improving efficiency. It’s all very clever stuff.
Despite the technical advances made by BMW, the deal breaker for many potential 1 Series Coupe buyers remains the controversial styling. It’ll never be a sleek head turner like a Peugeot RCZ or cut quite the same dash as an Audi TT.
Get past the slightly awkward lines and you’re rewarded with a car that will blow its rivals into the weeds on a twisty back road and paint a smile on its driver’s face big enough to slot a wok into.