BMW 1M Coupé and BMW M2 Coupé (G87): Barking Mad Wonders

BMW 1M Coupé and BMW M2 Coupé (G87): Barking Mad Wonders

James Wong
James Wong
12 Oct 2023
... there is at least this RWD + manual + turbo I6 combination that still carries on today from the 1M that started it all more than ten years ago.

Enthusiasts didn’t expect the BMW 1M Coupé to leave such an impactful legacy when it first launched, but it did.

Having one of BMW M’s first-ever turbocharged engines, the 1M boldly took on the mantle of the new world of forced induction (FI) that would eventually herald a whole new generation of M cars.

Criticise it if you will, but FI to me is not a clear-cut good or bad development - it keenly depends on its application. And in the 1M, it was a beautiful transition from the naturally aspirated world, giving the world a reason to believe in the future of turbocharged M engines.

The breathtaking amount of power you get from the N54 back in the early 2010s was a game changer. No longer was one needed to hold onto revs for power - there was a truckload of it wherever you wanted.

Of course, that doesn’t mean the N54 wasn’t rewarding to redline - quite the opposite. With the twin-turbos spooling hard, the N54 will pull convincingly to the very end, with a stirring soundtrack to boot.

Coupled with the genuinely compact 1-Series rear-wheel drive chassis with a short wheelbase, the 1M was a recipe for greatness. That its larger siblings, the E9x M3s, remained resolutely naturally aspirated gave the 1M a very unique niche that I believed contributed to its halo. If you had wanted a turbocharged BMW M coupe at that time, you could only buy the 1M.

Of course, the 1M then sparked a whole sea change with BMW M. Today, all M models are turbocharged, and the S58 in the M2 Coupé is in one of its most potent forms. If you notice the ‘S’ in the engine code, it denotes a true ground-up BMW M developed engine - something that we saw from the F87 M2 Coupé Competition and CS models. It now comes as standard for the G87 M2 Coupé, which says a great deal about what BMW M is positioning the car for - a run-out model, or at least something close to, before we see some form of electrification to it.

The G87 M2 Coupé feels altogether more serious, and not only because of its engine. Its chassis is now shared with the M4 Coupé, and so the car draws ever close to its larger sibling than ever before. That also means some serious credentials, but paired to rear-wheel drive (the M4 Coupé only comes in xDrive) and, if you wish, a manual gearbox.

If this sounded familiar, there is at least this RWD + manual + turbo I6 combination that still carries on today from the 1M that started it all more than ten years ago. And it is absolutely the right decision of BMW M to respect that tradition for its smallest coupe, although we wonder for how long.

I love how straightforward and - I daresay - even benign, the 1M Coupé feels next to the M2 Coupé. The former feels like an easier daily car with less demands on the driver, but the latter could probably obliterate track or road far more effectively. I could imagine, though, that the M2 Coupé with a manual may be one of the last of its kind and that’s enough for admission into the M Hall of Fame in our books.

It is a dying breed of car, and for enthusiasts who love their ICE, you really can’t go wrong with this recipe. Yes, that means specifying the manual gearbox, because that’s where the sweet spot lies.

Photos by New Gen Marketing

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