When BMW introduced its short-lived 1 Series coupe, the E82 platform embraced the “pleasure of small.” To fans of BMW’s iconic 2002, it was an answer to the 3 Series—which had slowly bloated in size year after year and which, despite greater performance and amenities, had become altogether different cars from their series progenitors. Enthusiasts clamored for an ultimate 1 Series, imagining a pugnacious M variant in the spirit of the much-loved original M3, the E30 series built from 1985 to 1992.
For 2011, BMW tempted diehards with the limited-production 1M Coupe, a two-year-only production run of about 6,300 units for the world market, with a mere 740 examples coming to the United States. The only colors available were black, white, and metallic orange. Customers queued, some dealers added usurious markups, and cars were snapped up by the fortunate few. And while BMW continues to fatten its M lineup with the M2, M3, and so forth, those vehicles are precisely that—fat—compared to the 3,296-pound 1M.
Whether the 1M will become the most collectible 21st-century BMW remains to be seen, but it definitely has a following that keeps the aftermarket busy.
The most well-respected name in the BMW aftermarket is Dinan. Known for developing comprehensive upgrades to the manufacturer’s entire model range, Dinan matches BMW of North America’s new-car coverage with a four-year/50,000-mile warranty.
So when Dinan offered Robb Report a few days with its Signature Series S3-R BMW 1M, it was an especially appealing opportunity to compare an amped-up version with a stock example of what is—coincidentally—my preferred daily driver. Having logged close to 15,000 miles behind the wheel, I find my 1M Coupe as familiar to me as a pair of broken-in loafers, and as comfortable and trouble free.