The result is a twitchier-than-expected behavior at the limit. To add a second dimension of interference, the very firm spring and damper setting permits a fair bit of pitch and enough yaw to alter the flight path over uneven ground. Thus, the fastest 1-series bobs and jiggles more than such a focused driving machine should. While this restlessness is barely notable on smooth surfaces such as a racetrack, it is an issue on patchy back roads tackled at aggressive speeds.
What the 1-series M coupe does remarkably well is indulge in various octaves of power oversteer. In the wet, the DSC's M Dynamic mode easily induces a tail-happy attitude. With DSC off, you almost wish for side window wipers so you could look more clearly into the shocked eyes of oncoming motorists. With maximum torque available from 1500 to 4500 rpm, there is always enough second-gear oomph underfoot to smoke the Michelins, which don't grip particularly well when cold. All of which proves the point that when your prime goal is to stage a private drift challenge against your alter ego, rear-wheel drive and a friendly tire dealer are the two essentials.
Still, on the smiles-per-mile charts, the 1-series M coupe can't be beat. It is a challenging piece, a triple-X-rated driver's machine for semi-professionals. Its handling balance provides an open invitation to indulge in latent oversteer, and provides an opportunity to separate the men from the boys. It is an absolute hoot on the track and an addictive plaything on your favorite twisty back road.
2011 BMW 1-series M coupe
Base price: $47,010
Engine: 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged I-6
Power: 335 hp @ 5900 rpm
Torque: 332 lb-ft @ 1500-4500 rpm (370 lb ft w/overboost)
Transmission: 6-speed manual transmission
L x W x H: 172.2 x 71.0 x 55.9 in
Wheelbase: 104.7 in
Curb weight: 3296 lbs
Cargo capacity: 10.0 cu ft
Tires, F,R: 245/35/R19, 265/35/R19 tires
Wheels, F,R: 19 x 9.0, 19 x 10.0 in