This is the hottest version of the 1-Series that has been a long time coming. Called the 1-Series M Coupe, it’s clear (from the posed images) that BMW sees it as the spiritual successor to the original E30 BMW M3, as they’re closer in size (just 33 mm longer but much wider), and the M3 has grown greatly through the years.

The M Coupe is powered by the twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre inline-6 from the Z4 sDrive35is, making this the first car by M division that uses a standard production engine. The all-aluminum N54 engine puts out 335 hp at 5,900 rpm and 450 Nm of torque from 1,500 to 4,500 rpm. An overboost function adds 50 Nm at full pelt. Redline is at 7,000 rpm.

The fastest One does 0-100 km/h in just 4.9 seconds on to a 250 km/h limited top speed. A close ratio 6-speed manual gearbox transfers drive to the rear wheels. As comparison, the 420 PS M3 Coupe (with DCT) sold here does the century sprint in 4.6 seconds, so the gap is just three tenths of a second.

To stop the car, the 1,495 kg M Coupe’s brakes are M3 grade, says BMW. The internally-vented, cross-drilled cast iron discs measure 360 mm in diameter up front and 350 mm at the back. Each disc is connected to a floating aluminum hub by cast-in stainless-steel pins to reduce heat. The condition of the brake linings can be checked from the dash display. The wheels look familiar? They are 19-inch items from the M3 Competition Package and M3 GTS, wrapped with 245/35 rubber up front and 265/35 rear tyres.

The aluminum suspension on the M Coupe was “originally conceived for the current-generation M3″ and tuned specifically for this application.

The front struts, swivel bearings, central subframe and an additional thrust panel below the engine (to maximize lateral stiffness) are all in aluminum, as are the dampers. Front/rear weight balance is 51.7/48.3.

The M Coupe is fitted with a variable M differential lock. This generates lock-up torque on-demand and variably to provide optimum traction. The DSC includes ABS, ASC, Dynamic Brake Control (DBC), hill-hold assistant, Cornering Brake Control (CBC), a brake fade compensation function and a brake drying function. For raising the intervention threshold, M Dynamic Mode (MDM) “enables slight amounts of dynamic oversteer under specific circumstances”. BMW says that this mode gives the fastest laptimes, but one can still fully switch DSC off (ABS remains on).

There’s also a M Drive button on the steering wheel that we first saw in the 2006 M5. Pressing it activates a razor-sharp throttle response program.

Looks wise, the front is dominated by three large air intakes. The central one is covered by a honeycomb grille while the two outer intakes are left completely open. The right one feeds air directly to the engine oil cooler and the left hole supplies the supplemental coolant radiator. On the sides, you’ll find trademark M chrome gills and wing mirrors that have the same shape as the M3′s. The rear end sports a lip spoiler, side openings on the bumper and quad pipes – two on each side. The front and rear lamps have slight changes too – LED eyebrows for the Adaptive Xenons and L-shaped rear elements.

If you’re wondering, this car is 5mm longer and 53 mm wider than a 135i Coupe. The tracks are 71 mm wider up front and 46 mm wider in the rear. Widened fenders and rear quarter panels were needed to accommodate the tracks. There’s no option of a moon roof, which saves 15 kg and lowers the centre of gravity.

The 1 Series M Coupe comes with Air Curtains, which were previewed on the Vision EfficientDynamics concept from Frankfurt 2009 and used here for the first time in a production car. It works to improve air flow around the wheel arches and significantly reduces turbulence.

The Air Curtain system consists of openings in the outer section of the lower front fascia that route high-pressure air through ducts at each front corner.

The ducts (approximately 10 x 3 cm wide) are designed to channel air to openings at the front of each wheel arch, where it is discharged through a very narrow opening at high speed. This air stream covers the side of the front wheels like a curtain, reducing turbulence.

There’s no Air Curtain for the rear wheels, and the rear openings you can see aft of the rear wheels are for style.

Lastly, the cabin is in dark Alcantara with orange contrast stitching covering the door panels, door pulls, instrument cluster binnacle, dash panel, and gearshift and handbrake lever boots. You’ll also get an M-specific instrument cluster with gray dials, red pointers and white backlighting. More M logos can be found on the driver’s footrest and door sills.

Large gallery after the jump.

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