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Next 1 Series to get M-spec?

2009-11-19 10:10
You never really know where you stand with BMW’s M division these days.

For years they promised forced induction would never contaminate their engine building regime. Then they launch two SUV M-cars, both powered by turbocharged engines.

During the M5’s 25th anniversary celebration, they showcased a collection of fantastic M-cars that were ready for production, but inexplicably canned all of them at the 11th hour.

What's the deal?

Understandably, the M-division’s hardcore line concerning the improbability of ever producing a 1 Series M-car has effectively dissolved.

Economic realities have ushered in a realignment of the M-division’s marketing strategy. Bossman Dr. Kay Segler has admitted the M-brand needs something cheaper than BMW’s M3 to ensure sales momentum.

To this end, a 1 Series M-car is a virtual certainty for the next generation of BMW’s entry level model range, expected towards the end of 2011.

The 2007 tii concept car should gives some indication of which design direction any 1 Series M-car would take.

In-line six, but single-turbo

Powering the 1 Series M-car will be BMW’s new TwinPower 3l in-line six, which builds on the fabled N54 heritage with valvetronic inlet- and outlet gas exchange management.

The N55 engine also foregoes sequential turbocharging for a single, twin-scroll turbine.

Conjectured power figures for the N55 powered 1 Series M-car are around 257kW and 450Nm.

Those outputs should leave enough performance advantage with the M3 to not enact self-cannibalisation of sales within the M-division’s product portfolio.

There is a bit of a logical fallacy with the idea of a BMW 1 Series M-car though.

Compared to the current 135i, buoyed by the locally available Performance kit (which boosts power to 240kW and torque to 430Nm), the projected performance package of the M-spec 1 Series appears a bit lukewarm.

Too fast for its own good? Or just fast enough to not make a difference?

Although the M-division car is sure to sport all manner of M-division styling trinkets, revised dampers and springs at each wheel corner, larger brake rotors and unique cabin detailing, it still promises to have the makings of a rather curious product.

You can practically order a suite of comparable goodies as part of the 135i Performance kit package from your dealer, right now, instead of waiting for the 1 Series M, which will still be a good few years away.

This leaves BMW with quite a quandary.

If they make the projected M-spec 1 Series as good as it deserves to be, it could possibly turn out to be quicker than the M3. Leave it trailing the M3 by too much, and ostensibly it's hardly quicker than a 135i with all the Performance kit options...

Of course the most profound issue surrounding the production of a 1 Series M-car is what to call it, as it surely cannot make play on the hallowed M1 moniker…

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