First Test: 2011 BMW 1-series M coupe

Incontinent, perhaps, but also absolutely exhilarated. An M3 equipped with the Competition Package is just as well balanced but is far easier to control at the limit thanks to its longer wheelbase, adaptive dampers, and normally aspirated engine. That last point is key: the M3 V-8's torque is metered out by the gas pedal in 295 perfectly sliced increments, each measuring 1 lb-ft. The 1M coupe's straight six can twist out an additional 75 lb-ft practically anywhere in the rev range, all of which hits the rear axle like a turbocharged slap on the ass. The 1M coupe is slightly quicker in a straight line, and its silken six is remarkably lag free -- for a turbocharged engine. It can't, however, be compared with a normally aspirated engine that has eight throttles for instantaneous response.

While we're discussing what's under the hood: the 1-series M coupe's engine was lifted almost unchanged from the 335is and Z4 sDrive35is. Yes, it's true that it's not really an M engine. No, we don't care. Nor should you. It's too good to fault.

Engine and transmission aside, the 1M coupe's running gear is taken straight from the M3: it uses the same front and rear suspension, steering rack, and brakes. The wheels and tires are from the Competition Package M3. The M3's far wider track necessitated fender flares, which contribute to a truckish 0.37 drag coefficient. Despite that, the 1M will, of course, easily achieve its 155-mph electronically limited top speed. But unlike the M3, whose speed limiter can be increased to 280 kph (174 mph) in Europe, the 1M coupe will not offer a higher speed limiter.

Why? Dirty secret: it wouldn't reach 174 mph. Score one point for the M3. But if we were choosing which M car to buy, we'd be standing in line for a 1-series M coupe. Yeah, it's $14,065 cheaper than an M3 coupe, but that's not why. We love the newest, smallest M because it's exactly what an M car should be: it wasn't designed to appeal to everyone, but instead to make a small and select group of car nuts very, very happy and to inspire a new generation of BMW enthusiasts, just like the E30 M3 did. Production constraints will limit the number of 1Ms sold here -- BMW estimates 800 for the U.S. market.

It'd be great if BMW makes money on the 1-series M coupe, but frankly we don't care, because, more important than making money, BMW has reached into the parts bin and crafted a masterpiece. The E30 M3 finally has a successor. Please welcome the stupidly fast, wickedly tempered, awkwardly named, possibly perfect little son of a benchwork.

weird how purists clamor for manual shifters. the smart move (for any racer) is lap time. if the manny is faster, great. however, if the DCT will give u p1, then that's all that matters.if u ain't driving for lap time, u're driving casually in my book.

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