Look out for Pirates
The BMW 1 Series M Coupé leaves the harbour

Pirate, noun, masculine [Ital. pirata < Lat. pirata < Greek peirates] = robber of ships at sea. That’s the dictionary definition.

When people talked about the Pirate at BMW M GmbH in recent months, they generally spoke in terms of happy expectations and rarely referred to the sea. Nonetheless, this code name does not seem entirely random. After all, the aim of the BMW 1 Series M Coupé is to plunder unknown territorial waters and to make it easier to gain a foothold in the BMW M world.

The aim is to offer fans, both young and not-so-young, a car that concentrates on what is most important: the driving experience.

When the BMW M3 first gave wing to the drams of automobile enthusiasts 25 years ago, no one could ever have expected the success that would be enjoyed by the compact sports car. The successes of the M3 have been considerable to date, not least in long-distance races. The model itself has also increased in size. The length and wheelbase have now reached dimensions that two generations ago would have been associated with a BMW 5 Series. These figures alone make it clear that there is room for another model beneath the BMW M3.

This is precisely the purpose of the BMW 1 Series M Coupé. Like its forebears from the 1980’s, this car has no unnecessary frills. It is available in three paint finishes, the interior is fixed, there is one transmission variant and one chassis design. Oh, and let’s not forget: a whole load of fun. That’s all.

Anyone who has had the opportunity to drive the small M will immediately understand what this means. Something that may seem comparatively unspectacular on paper becomes a sensation with every meter traveled. The great-looking packaging is like the icing on the cake.

The first things you notice are the wider fenders. They make room for the wider track - with an extra 71 mm on the front axle and 44 mm on the back in comparison with the BMW 135i, you already get a feeling of the kind of driving dynamism available here before the car has even moved.

Typically for the BMW M, the front of the car features a number of ventilation slots. The narrow, vertical openings are something new. These open into the wheel arches, creating an “air curtain”. The air is diverted to the wheel arches in such a way that it emerges along the front wheels. This optimizes flow and reduces air resistance.

On the sides can be found a modern interpretation of the M grill and the M wing mirrors in the BMW M3 design.

Wheels in competition design and format give the BMW 1 Series M Coupé a really strong look.

Last but not least, there are the obligatory four exhaust pipes on the back.

When it comes to the exterior paintwork, the designers have concentrated on what really counts. The choices are: Alpine White, Sapphire Black Metallic and Valencia Orange Metallic.

Valencia Orange is also found in the interior. This is black throughout, featuring panels of Alcantara, while the contrasting orange-colored steam provides an eye-catching element.

The driver’s cockpit doesn’t just look good, it fits like a glove. The M seats connect the driver with the machine and, as he stares at the gray-backed speedometer, he will have just one wish - to press the ignition.

On command, the six-cylinder engine wakes with a sonorous sound. After only a few meters, the 340 turbo HP output will make its present felt with its spontaneous responsiveness, which can be sharpened even further with a touch of the M key on the steering wheel. The 450 Nm torque, which increases quickly to 500 Nm via overboost, offers all the power you could ask for. However there is one thing the car doesn’t have: turbo lag. The standard sprint to 100 km/h is completed in 4.9 seconds, while the 200 km/h mark is reached in just 17.3 seconds.

With its direct steering and 6-speed manual gearbox, the BMW 1 Series M Coupé makes every driver’s wish come true. Anyone taking a bend at speed will immediately notice the familiar performance of the variable M differential lock. The finely coordinated chassis connects the car to the road in the tried-and-tested M manner, ensuring the necessary road-holding and dispensing with exaggerated hardness.

Whether on the public roads or on the race track, the BMW 1 Series M Coupé will be a genuine surprise for some more powerful cars. If you like, it expresses all the virtues you’d expect from the M family in a nutshell.

Accordingly, the aim of the marketing men to position the BMW 1 Series M Coupé as a raider in the compact sports cars market is certainly not too far from reality. In particular, because the youngest member of the Garching stable is the only genuine coupé in its class. The car will have its first outing in May 2011.

Dr. Kay Segler, president of the executive board at BMW M GmbH, puts it in a nutshell: “The BMW 1 Series M Coupé is M technology at its purest. If you miss out this opportunity, you’ll only have yourself to blame.” He’s absolutely right.