BMW 1 Series M Coupé E82 Buying Guide. Buying Guide BMW’s best modern classic, the wonderful 1 Series M Coupé. The 1M Coupé is one of our favourite machines from the last ten years – a hoot to drive and cast iron values make it a sure-fire collector’s piece. Words: Bob Harper and Andrew Everett. Photography: BMW.
E82 1 Series M Coupé
The 1M’s launch might have been one of the longest strip teases in history but when the last of its disguise slipped from a curvaceous wheel arch to the floor it was immediately obvious that the wait had been worth it. M had managed to instill the relatively innocuous 1 Series Coupé with a serious dose of steroids and with the firepower to match its looks BMW looked to be on to an immediate winner. Limited production numbers and rave reviews meant that a scant five years after its launch it’s already a cult classic and as a result you’ll be lucky to bag even a higher mileage example for less than the car’s original on-sale price.
BMW saw this car as very much in the mould of the E30 M3, and while it might have been stretching the truth a little, it’s quite easy to see where BMW was coming from. Ever since the first M3 proved to be an almost overnight sensation – on both road and track – each generation of M3 has become a bit plusher, a bit bigger and perhaps most importantly, a little bit more expensive. With the 1M’s contemporary, the E92 M3, costing the thick end of £55k (and that was before options such as 19-inch alloys and EDC suspension) the introduction of the 1M at a tenner shy of £40k appealed to a different set of drivers and promised to offer a purer driving experience to the M3.
The heart of any M car is obviously its power unit, and at first you could have been forgiven for thinking that the 1M’s twin-turbocharged straight-six might be a disappointment. After all, its hardware is identical to that of the Z4 sDrive35is, itself a more or less standard N54 ‘six found in a myriad of regular BMW road cars. Bespoke M software made it very much more of an M-type powerplant when you hit the MDM button though. Headline figures were the same as for the Z4 – 340hp at 5900rpm and 332lb ft of torque from 1500-4500rpm, with an additional 37lb ft available on overboost when going for a full-throttle overtake for example. Performance was impressive with the 0-62mph dash taking a scant 4.9 seconds while 0-124mph was dispatched in 17.3 seconds.
Under the skin, the 1M underwent many changes from the 135i to endow it with the authentic M driving experience. It utilised many suspension components from the E92 M3 with its front and rear track being virtually identical to its bigger brother, although some components were specifically tuned for the 1 Series with its lighter weight and shorter wheelbase. Through the extensive use of aluminium for the suspension the 1M weighed in at 1495kg, 65kg less than the 135i. As well as the lightweight suspension components a certain amount of sound insulation was removed to shave a little bit of weight off the rather portly 135i.
Other changes to the drivetrain included the M3’s Variable M differential lock while the cooling system was upgraded to cope with what BMW called ‘constant high-load, high-speed track driving’ via an additional radiator and new ducting within the front bumper.
The 1M might have featured one of those newfangled turbochargers but when it came to its steering BMW saw fit to equip it with an old fashioned yet feelsome hydraulic setup with Servotronic assistance as standard. Wheels were 19-inch CSL-style items and nestling behind them were M3 stoppers During the car’s gestation period some criticised the 1M for being a ‘parts bin special’ and while this may be true to a certain extent, there was no way BMW would have been able to develop a new engine or suspension system in the time available to develop the car. From the BMW board approving the project to the unveiling was a scant 15 months and when you consider that all the components from that parts bin had to be specifically adapted to the 1M application it was no mean feat indeed.
And the proof of the pudding was in the driving – the 1M was a cracking piece of kit. It could be pretty refined when you were in cruise mode, but let it off the leash on a deserted section of sinuous black top and it was a revelation. Its relatively light weight combined with the turbocharged punch made it a real hoot to drive – it always feels alive and on its toes and after a stint behind the wheel one can see where all those comparisons with the E30 M3 came from – it really was that good.
If you liked the look of the 1 Series M Coupé, you needed to get your order in sharpish as when it went on sale in the UK in May 2011 there were just 450 examples destined for these shores. Only three colours were available – the Valencia orange metallic you see here or Sapphire black metallic or Alpine white – the white was standard while the two metallics were a £515 option. It was priced at £39,990 on the road – £13k cheaper than the admittedly higher spec’d E92 M3 and nearly £9k more than a 135i M Sport Coupé.
Standard kit included black Boston leather with Kyalami orange stitching while the gear lever and handbrake gaiters, door trims and instrument binnacle cover all featured black Alcantara with the Kyalami stitching, too. Obviously the M aerodynamic body styling was standard, and UK cars received high-gloss Shadowline exterior trim, heated washer jets and park distance control at the rear.
Inside the 1M had six airbags and other safety equipment such as seat belt pre-tensioners and child seat Isofix attachments front and rear with front airbag deactivation. The front sports seats featured part electric adjustment while the steering wheel itself was an M-logoed multi-function item, 368 millimetres in diameter and with Motorsport tri-colour stitching.
UK cars also had cruise control, auto air-con with two-zone control, 60:40 folding rear seats, extended lighting and extended storage, an OBC, an aux input and a Business radio with a single CD and six speakers. You could have added significantly to the base price of your car if you wanted; Professional Navigation with hard drive cost £2010, Harman Kardon was £915, Bluetooth a pricey £545, Comfort Access was £470 and fully electric seats for £1155 if you’d insisted on putting weight back into the car.
The N54 engine in the 1M has proven to be mechanically tough – providing it hasn’t been beasted from the cold and has been serviced on the dot (over-servicing never hurts) then it’s a fine engine. There have been reports of a leaking rear crank oil seal but we’ve never seen one. As a direct injection unit, carbon build-ups in the inlet ports are inevitable and removing the inlet manifold to blast the ports and valves clean with crushed walnut shells will restore lost performance.
However, there have been some management and electrical issues that, to be fair, are not common. ‘Waste gate rattle’ can be a faulty gasket where the exhaust bolts on – cheap to buy but time-consuming to fix. The high pressure pump has been known to play up (it was a major issue in the US on the 335i) and this manifests itself as a drop in power and the EML light coming on. However, similar symptoms are caused by either a knock sensor or the NoX (nitrogen oxide) sensor – the latter is around £400 for the part alone although it takes less than an hour to fit.
The actual engine itself is the N54 B30A and shares the same part number with the regular 335i unit – in the unfortunate event of needing another engine, you at least have the option of a reasonably common used engine but be prepared to pay £3000 for one if not more. Ask for a 335i unit – mention 1M and the price increases by 25 percent!
Likewise, the turbochargers are regular 335i parts and they’re surprisingly cheap – from BMW you’re looking at £1270 the pair. All cars have the electric water pump that costs £350 from BMW and £260 from Euro Car Parts – they don’t go wrong often to be fair and given the value of a 1M we would prefer to see a BMW receipt in the book pack. Similarly, the radiator is 335i and not expensive at £375. There’s also another auxiliary radiator in the left-hand side of the bumper – should you need a new one it’ll set you back a BMW-only £250.
The dual mass flywheel is a part unique to the 1M however, and should you need a new one to go with a new clutch, it’s BMW-only at £1139… ouch.
The bad news for those looking to buy one is that the 1M hasn’t really dropped in value since the day it first left the showroom. You’ll need at least £35k to join the club and that will be for a relatively miley machine – 60k miles or so. At the other end of the scale you have pampered ultra-low mileage machines on offer from BMW main dealers for nigh-on £60k.
We’ve seen them advertised for even more than this, but in today’s market we wouldn’t want to pay more than that if you’re planning to actually use the car – adding more miles will simply reduce the car’s desirability for collectors. To our mind an ideal machine will have a price tag in the £40-£45k region and will have done 30-40k miles. This way you’ll be able to use it as a weekend machine as its maker intended yet not wipe too much off its value. When cars become collectors’ machinery such as this it’s important to remember that they were made to be driven!
We’ve already mentioned the flywheel, and the 1M clutch would seem to be unique – however the clutch kit is shared with the 335i xDrive so there’s a chance of an aftermarket unit at less than the £438 that BMW ask. The six-speed gearbox is again shared with the 335i range and is almost unbreakable along with the prop – although anything used regularly on track or taken over the stock 340hp will likely break something. The 3.15 ratio limited-slip diff was shared with the E90 M3 and is nigh-on bulletproof – BMW sell a ‘booster’ for the Castrol SAF XJ LSD oil in case of the unit groaning under low speed manoeuvres. E90 M3 driveshafts were also used and whilst they’re £650 each new, there’s good chance of finding a good used one for half that.
Rust is hardly going to be a problem; even 12 years after the first 1 Series rolled off the line, nobody has seen a rusty one so it’s fair to assume that BMW has ferrous oxide licked.
However, many of these cars have been ‘enjoyed’ a bit too much – check very carefully for panel fit, even and matching paint finish and that all parts fit correctly. These cars were always valuable so haven’t been wrecks, but it’s worth doing some digging – previous owners, supplying dealer as well as a proper HPI check.
All have Xenons which were a handy thing to have on a performance car where the standard lights were so grim, and a new one is nearly £700 with VAT. Only three colours were available, Alpine white 300, Valencia orange B44 and black Sapphire 475.
Suspension and steering
The 1 Series shared much of its suspension and floor with the E90 so it’s no surprise that the 1M again uses a lot of E90 M3 componentry. And, like the M3, there is very little that goes wrong. Springs and dampers are all conventional and should you need them, a pair of new front dampers will set you back £649 plus fitting. Wishbones and bushes are all tough and there are no horror stories. However, pray that you don’t damage the Servotronic steering rack because this BMW-only item is a whopping £1600 plus fitting. But apart from that (and we’ve not heard of a failure) the 1M is a tough car – like the E46 M3 they were built to a higher, almost over-engineered standard though without the boot floor cracks!
Wheels, tyres and brakes
The 1M brakes are shared once again with the E90 M3 – the fronts are M3 and the rears are E90 M3- and E60 M5-based. That means no cheaper aftermarket bits – not that you’d really want to skimp here and at £625 for the front discs and £144 for the pads they’re not too horrendous if you say it quickly. There are no problems to speak of although if you were unlucky enough to encounter a fault in the ABS hydro unit you’d be stuffed as this part is unique to the 1M – thankfully though we’ve not heard of one failing and at £1050 new from BMW they’re pricey but still cheaper than a lot of sixcylinder E90 units, some of which are two grand or more.
The 19-inch wheels are unique, of course, and they’re over £600 each with VAT. Tyres are 245/35R 19 front and 265/35R 19 rears. Fronts range from £198 for a pair of Kumho Ecsta La Sports to £376 for Michelin Pilot Supersports – rears are more expensive at £240 a pair for those Kumhos but on the rears we found Continentals for £360 all-in – good rubber doesn’t have to be expensive. We’d really want to see the best rubber available on one of these – no ditchfinder specials here please.
The 1M interior was certainly a superb place to be. Standard interior trim was black Boston leather with orange stitching – certainly the rare Alcantara gives the 1M a more ‘Motorsport’ feel. Notable interior options include dual zone auto air conditioning, comfort access, rain sensors, Harmon Kardon as well as Professional Navigation that comes with the dash top screen and iDrive – don’t assume all cars have nav!
As ever, condition is everything so make sure seat bolsters and pedal rubbers match the mileage.
Like all modern BMWs the 1M is electrically a pretty complex bit of kit. But the good news is that it’s all pretty robust and there have been no regular problems reported as yet.
Standard equipment on the 1M was sparse but there are options worth having – the DAB radio was £320 and worth every penny, the Bluetooth prep a whopping £545 and Harmon Kardon for £765 – hopefully you won’t be paying for those second time around and all have the switchable M Dynamic mode.
Because these cars have done relatively few miles and are still quite new you shouldn’t really be seeing any of the more common 1 Series electrical issues of which there are very few anyway – cars that stand outside in the rain a lot will get the usual build up of leaves around the rear under bonnet and it is worth flipping the lid off the ECU box to make sure it’s not filling with rain water if a drain hole blocks. But that’s about it – just make sure it all works and you will be absolutely fine.
Is the 1M the ultimate all-round M Car? Very possibly – the brakes might be marginal for track use but for sane road driving they’re fine. It’s insanely fast, wellmannered, reliable and not thirsty – it’s a much better bet than an M5 in that respect and compared to an BMW E60 M5 for example, its running costs are positively cheap. The trouble is, they forgot to depreciate and a mint one is £50,000. As a daily car doing 12,000 miles a year or more that could prove costly in depreciation but at half that mileage it’s just possible you could run it for two or three years and get most of your money back whilst enjoying a stupendously good car. What’s not to like?
TECHNICAL DATA FILE 2011 BMW 1 Series M Coupé E82
ENGINE: N54 twin-turbo six-cylinder, 24-valve
COMPRESSION RATIO: 10.2:1
MAX POWER: 340hp @ 5900rpm
MAX TORQUE: 332lb ft @1500-4500rpm (369lb ft with overboost function)
0-62MPH: 4.9 seconds
0-124MPH: 17.3 seconds
TOP SPEED: 155mph (limited)
EMISSIONS (CO2): 224g/km
WEIGHT: 1495kg (unladen)
TRANSMISSION: Six-speed manual, M limited-slip diff
STEERING: Hydraulic rack and pinion with Servotronic
PRICE: £39,990 (2011)
|The 1M E82 isn’t so pricey to service – despite the M3 componentry there’s no black magic and at £150, it’s worth having an intermediate oil service done.
|OIL SERVICE AND MICROFILTER
|AS ABOVE PLUS PLUGS AND FUEL FILTER
|FRONT DISCS AND PADS
|FRONT BRAKE PADS
|Prices quoted from BMW UK website – individual dealers may quote less. Specialist prices assume use of genuine BMW parts.