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Tuesday 29th January 2013

PH Blog: the best M3? It's the 1 M!

Back to back with M3 royalty the M Coupe is the cheeky little terrier that embarrasses them all



As mentioned in the original story, the amazing but expensive BMW M3 CRT driven for these pages recently was tested alongside a whole bunch of other M cars at the Nurburgring GP track. A fleeting taste perhaps but pushing cars like the CRT and GTS to their limits for a few laps was an incredible experience. But they weren't the only M3s on offer.

CSL a breath of fresh air among the V8s
CSL a breath of fresh air among the V8s
The oldest car present in that line-up was an E46 M3 CSL, a very special car indeed. The E90 and E92 generation machines were represented by standard M3s, competition packs and the specials I've already mentioned above. But nestling amongst the queue of M3s was a metallic orange interloper, a little 1 M Coupe.

Amongst the banquet of big V8s, the CSL and 1 M were beautiful palate-cleansers. Precision instruments. The CSL was, of course, awesome. The noise from the airbox, the poise of it's four-square chassis ready to grip and grip. But still sadly let down (in my personal opinion) by the standard brakes and SMG gearbox. The brakes simply don't cut it on a racetrack, and neither does the SMG.

While I grudgingly accept that systems like the DCT (with its double-clutch and instant changes) make cars better and faster, I still think the SMG of the CSL creates more problems than it solves for a competent driver. Turn it up to 'harsh' and it bangs the hell out of the diff and cooks its own fluids. Turn it down to soft and it drags on the clutch like an OAP with an overdue hip replacement.

What's that in the GTS's mirrors?
What's that in the GTS's mirrors?
So, the best 'M3' that really took the honours in this group was ... the 1 M! Back to back with the other machines it ticked all the right boxes. Small. Manual gearbox. Proper brakes.

In short, it was brilliant. Though the six-cylinder turbo noise could never compete with the naturally-aspirated war cry of the carbon-airboxed CSL, the actual power delivered was more than enough to keep up with the 450hp monsters we were on track with.

The torque at low revs was enough to freak out the electric nannies with only the smallest of throttle openings. And then the mid-range, rapidly throwing the needle into a breathless top-end, shift after shift. I'd stuck a little 10hz GPS datalogger on the windscreen of every car I drove, including the GTS and CSL. Everytime I exited Ford-kehre and accelerated towards the hairpin, I was checking my peak speed at the braking point. The GTS scored 192km/h, the little 1M? 186km/h. Only 6km/h slower for about one third of the price. And unlike the CSL it had brakes that worked lap after lap.

Loads of torque and good brakes - unlike M3s
Loads of torque and good brakes - unlike M3s
And it has a manual, six-speed 'box. Which is just essential for those of us who've invested far too much time and effort into the art of shifting on a racetrack. A button that does an instant downshift with perfect rev-matching and double declutching is scornful, not inspirational.

I'm sure the purists will disagree, but I reckon the 1 Series M Coupe might just have been the best M3 there. Judging by the way they hold their value , the market at large just might agree with the cheapest one in the PH classifieds commanding a smidge over £35K. What do you think?

Dale

 

 

Dale Lomas
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Author Discussion

Pookster

Original Poster:

9 posts

25 months

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Tuesday 29th January 2013 quote quote all
Dale, we're going to have words you and me. Tut tut.

Itsallicanafford

914 posts

47 months

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Tuesday 29th January 2013 quote quote all
...the CSL is nearly 10 years older than the others on test, but still on the pace (SMG issues aside)...when are these going to be £50K upwards for a good one?

tomwoodis

458 posts

72 months

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Tuesday 29th January 2013 quote quote all
I think you're right. Proof if ever it was needed that smaller, lighter cars with a decent wedge of power is clearly the way we'd like all the manufacturers to go!


Lazygraduate

1,629 posts

49 months

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Tuesday 29th January 2013 quote quote all
Wasn't there a sort of CSL-lite version called the CS, with three pedals but retaining most of the suspension and engine mods of the CSL?

Love the looks of the 1M though- so agressive!

Jamesp24

273 posts

58 months

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Tuesday 29th January 2013 quote quote all
CSL without CSL wheels = criminal.
Advertisement

JayEll

88 posts

24 months

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Tuesday 29th January 2013 quote quote all
Jamesp24 said:
CSL without CSL wheels = criminal.
This ^^

roystinho

1,596 posts

63 months

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Tuesday 29th January 2013 quote quote all
Hate the fact the 1M is so good as doubt it will ever fall into my price bracket. I'd have one over any M3 for the reasons outlined in the article (except perhaps an E30 EVO)

Baryonyx

10,490 posts

47 months

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Tuesday 29th January 2013 quote quote all
Who at BMW thought the SMG gearbox would be a good idea in the CSL? What a stupid way to ruin an otherwise brilliant car. The 1M has the right idea though. It makes the current M3 look very lacklustre.

The most important aspect of it? Small with a manual gearbox.

will261058

1,106 posts

80 months

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Tuesday 29th January 2013 quote quote all
Jamesp24 said:
CSL without CSL wheels = criminal.
Agreed those CSL wheels are the swingers! CSL looks dull without them though strangely I dont think the stock M3 looks dull with the normal wheels confused

will261058

1,106 posts

80 months

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Tuesday 29th January 2013 quote quote all
I think the 1M looks fantastic. Amazingly I have yet to see one in the flesh!

Baryonyx

10,490 posts

47 months

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Tuesday 29th January 2013 quote quote all
Jamesp24 said:
CSL without CSL wheels = criminal.
They'll have been nicked by some scruff to put on a diesel 3 series, no doubt.

Mr2Mike

12,586 posts

143 months

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Tuesday 29th January 2013 quote quote all
PH said:
M Coupe is the cheeky little terrier
"Ugly little mutt" would be a more accurate description wink

cidered77

347 posts

85 months

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Tuesday 29th January 2013 quote quote all
will261058 said:
I think the 1M looks fantastic. Amazingly I have yet to see one in the flesh!
seen only one - which sparked my interest on maybe the Megane 265 not being the automatic replacement car choice this summer. they look "mean" in real life, one of those cars than looks so much more purposeful than pictures alone can tell. love the fact also that everyone I show it too thinks its an ugly thing - kind of adds to the appeal! smile

Either getting a used 1m, a M135i, or the Megane - each have their pros and cons, all offer something slightly different, and depending on the day, each one can be the favorite.

today after this article i'm getting me a 1m! smile

jamespink

690 posts

92 months

[news] 
Tuesday 29th January 2013 quote quote all
At last the truth! How refreshing that someone has voiced my own thoughts of many years, namely the exotic cars costing fortunes are never as much fun as an affordable competent car, since you never really spank your own really expensive one for fear of blowing it up or rolling it into a ball... Hence a 10 year old M3/M5 is more fun (every day) than a £100k exotic. And you also have £90k in the bank!

em177

1,742 posts

52 months

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Tuesday 29th January 2013 quote quote all
Baryonyx said:
Jamesp24 said:
CSL without CSL wheels = criminal.
They'll have been nicked by some scruff to put on a diesel 3 series, no doubt.
Will be track tyres on the wheels shown I'd imagine.

FamilyDub

3,546 posts

53 months

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Tuesday 29th January 2013 quote quote all
article said:
While I grudgingly accept that systems like the DCT.. make cars better and faster.
^^ Faster changing, yes. 'Better' is subjective viewpoint.

article said:
A button that does an instant downshift with perfect rev-matching and double declutching is scornful, not inspirational.
^^ Well, are DCT boxes 'better', or 'scornful'? confused

FWIW, I love the 1M, I was hoping it would became familiar with our friend depreciation a bit sooner than it actually is.

B10

774 posts

155 months

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Tuesday 29th January 2013 quote quote all
The 1M is a car I would love to own. My only niggle is that it should have been called the M1. The best of new and old. Great colour. I do not think that people would get it confused with the original M1.

CSLmarson

90 posts

83 months

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Tuesday 29th January 2013 quote quote all
ok SMG may be clunky around town, but SMG paved the way for all your DTC systems you see today, it is ten years old now but in my opinion performs fantasticly if you know how to use it properly, its not somthing you can just pick up strait away i have been mastering mine now for the last 6 months.

yes it does pull hard on the diff and breaks your neck into gear but thats all part of the drama of driving a mythical beast like the CSL that and its ear pearcing bark fron the carbon air box !!!!!!!!!!

Mermaid

18,628 posts

59 months

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Tuesday 29th January 2013 quote quote all
The only turbo charged car in that group, and also the only manual?

Now imagine the new M4 with a manual box, though DCt will also be awesome. New M5 a lot better than the old E60.

It's the turbos. wink

GroundEffect

8,075 posts

44 months

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Tuesday 29th January 2013 quote quote all
I love my Z4M but I do often wonder how much more of a hooligan it'd be with a big fat mid-range of torque. More frantic, more terrifying biggrin


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