SkiddMark reader Andrew Mulholland was one of the first customers to view BMW’s new 1 Series M Coupe when he joined us at our photoshoot last Thursday. He got the chance after responding to one of my tweets a few weeks ago (you can follow us at @DriversRepublic), offering a reader the chance to meet BMW’s new M car, and it took him all of about 3 seconds to accept the invitation when asked!

My objective when inviting Andrew along was to gain a real honest-to-goodness customer’s perspective on the new M car – sometimes it’s easy to be overly critical when working with cars on a routine basis, so Andrew’s first impressions would be useful in judging whether BMW had got it right with the kind of people they really need to impress.

You can read our review on the new 1 Series M Coupe in our article, In the studio with BMW’s 1 Series M Coupe, and you can also now view our video (below and also on SkiddPlayer) from the day which hopefully gives you an idea of what we were seeing at the shoot.

By the way, this pristine 1 Series M Coupe that you see in the pictures will eventually be heading to the crusher after it’s been victimised in a series of development tests by BMW. It seems such a crime to destroy such a gorgeous looking car, but it’s all part of the development programme – I’m sure there’s a Bugatti Veyron out there somewhere that’s been through the same ordeal.

The Customer’s Viewpoint

Prior to our session last week we’d reached out to the main global BMW forums to ask people what they were most interested in finding out about the new 1 Series M Coupe. Many questions centered around whether it’s powerplant was unique (sort of), what colours will be available (see Andrew’s words below) and its price (£39,990 OTR here in the UK). Until last Friday we knew very little about the specification and options available for the 1 Series M Coupe, so naturally most people’s enquiries were aimed at filling this void.

The response since these details were revealed has been unsurprisingly positive, BMW’s video released a day before has already racked up nearly three-quarters of a million views and the discussion boards have been filled with chatter about BMW, this new 1 Series M Coupe and the future of M cars in general. Either way it’s been a great launch so far for BMW and we’ll have more to share with you before the cars first public appearance at Detroit in January.

But enough of my preamble, let me share with you Andrew’s thoughts later that evening, after he’d returned back home..

It’s all about Cars and Photography..

When I first set eyes on the 1 Series M Coupe, I spontaneously grinned. I’ve not done that when looking at a road car, for a long time – and especially not one within my price range. The last ones to trigger such a reaction were probably the Renault R26.R, and the M3 CSL.

I joined the photo shoot last week for two reasons; firstly because I have already placed an order for a 1 Series M Coupe and this was probably my one and only chance to see a car before taking delivery and secondly to lend SkiddMark my support as a photographer – I’m a semi-pro hobbyist, covering such motorsport events during 2010 as the FIA GT Series and the major European 24 Hour races – so this was the perfect opportunity to indulge two of my passions – cars and photography.

We were up against the clock, following on from the Autocar, Whatcar and PistonHeads and with BMW’s delivery driver eagerly waiting to load the car back on the transporter, time was in short supply. Our priority therefore was to quickly capture a set of images for publishing later that evening, but it was a struggle to remain focused whilst my thoughts were consumed as an enthusiast and a customer.

First impressions? Well, the 1 Series M looks just right – I was a bit worried that the arches might seem a little too exaggerated, but they’re not, and certainly at the front, they help stop the 1er looking so ungainly (the main criticism of my current runabout – a 123d Coupe).

On that matter, the new front headlights help smooth the front, and combined with the bumper and its monster splitter, make it look more grown-up than the standard 1 Series.

When the engine was first started, I was innocently crouched behind the car taking photos of its rear, and I was initially quite shocked at the sound it produced – it was almost offensively loud, before settling down a more reasonable deep-chested thrum. It doesn’t sound like a typical turbo-charged motor at least not in my experience – and whether this is due to some clever exhaust tweaking, or just its natural sound, I don’t mind at all – it certainly sounds like a seriously tuned motor.

There are plenty of nice touches both inside and outside the 1 Series M – including the ///M logo embossed into the front headrests, orange stitching offsetting the alcantara and dark black leather or that aggressive front snout. Some may quibble at the mock vents behind the front wheel arches – they’re actually designed to produce air curtains around the front wheels reducing aerodynamic turbulence – or at the exhaust valance being plastic, not Carbon fibre as it was in the M3 CSL, but I think to do so would be to miss the point of this car. It is BMW’s entry-level M model after all.

At the end of the day it’s 180KG lighter than an E92 M3 (1495KG vs 1680KG) , costs about £10K less, and still packs 335bhp…so given that I used to own an E92 M3 and an M3 CSL, I see the 1 Series M Coupe as something of a bargain. I suspect this is one of those cars that will generate plenty of smiles for its owners.

Prior to the photoshoot I was thinking of specifying my own car with Saphire Black metallic paint, but having seen the Valencia Orange, I’ve certainly changed my mind.. .the colour is really eye-catching, but not in a gaudy or tiring way but because it looks so rich and classy – I’d expect at least 60-70% of buyers will do likewise choosing the unique Valencia Orange, rather than the other two alternatives – Saphire Black or Alpine White.


I don’t have many really – my main one is perhaps the seats, whilst attractively trimmed with their orange stitching, they’re essentially the same frames as in my current M Sport 123d. I would personally prefer the more deeply bucketed BMW Performance seats, and hope it’s possible to specify those with the requisite orange stitching.

I also wish there was a carbon fibre roof available… there was talk of that being an option, but I suspect that was just idle forum chatter, however it would really suit the car (especially contrasting with the Orange), and I wouldn’t mind paying a bit more if it were an option.

None of those are really criticisms though, just my personal preferences. Spending the afternoon in the company of the 1 Series M Coupe has left we wanting to drive it even more – I’ll start by scheduling a regular phone call with my dealer to chase up the delivery date for my own car and in the meantime I’ve got a great collection of photos showing how my own car will look when I collect it next May.

Written By

Steve Davies

Steve is an investor, private equity advisor and former Partner at KPMG, PwC and Bain.   Most importantly he's a life-long car enthusiast, mountain biker and active sports enthusiast. He designs and builds technology platforms and is the architect behind Transmission.

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