It appears the rumors were true: BMW's M division has had its way with the latest Euro-spec 1 Series hatchback. The result is called the M135i, and it'll make its official debut at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show in March, albeit in a so-called "concept" form.
Despite that pesky concept term, we wouldn't be the least bit surprised if this is virtually identical to a production-spec M135i we've been hearing about for some time. Certainly, the car looks production ready: most of the exterior revisions fall in line with similar packages launched as part of the M Performance Automobiles collection. Exterior revisions include a new front fascia and added enlarged air intakes, a sportier looking rear fascia with a cutout for dual exhaust tips, and striking M-design 18-inch alloy wheels. Tri-color stripes, which match M's distinctive logo, are applied to both the bodyside character lines and the rear liftgate.
BMW assures us this 1 Series isn't all show and no go. Mechanical revisions reportedly include both upgraded brakes and a firmer, M-tuned suspension package - but from there, things get a little sketchy. BMW's release says only that the M135i will boast a "straight six-cylinder...featuring M Performance Twin Power Turbo technology" and an output of more than 300 hp. Early reports suggested the car would use a tweaked version of the 1M's N54 twin-turbo engine, but BMW has confirmed that the car will be powered by a version of the new N55 3.0-liter I-6 , which uses a single twin-scroll turbocharger.
This 1 Series will be the first gasoline-powered addition to the BMW M Performance Automobiles collection, which presently consists of the M550d xDrive, and the X5 and X6 M50d models - all of which are powered by diesel engines.
Sound nifty? Sadly, the M135i as you see it here isn't coming to North America, largely because the F20 1 Series hatchback isn't in BMW North America's product plans. That said, coupe and convertible models based off this architecture almost certainly are, and officials have hinted that the 1 Series would seem like it would work with the new M Performance group. Here's hoping it does - and that some of this package manages to work its way stateside at some point.
Expect to see more information early next month: the M135i will take the stand at the Geneva Show on March 6th.