An alternative to the new M Coupe

Some closing thoughts on the 1 M. For all its flaws, we do applaud BMW for bringing it to market— a new enthusiast car only makes the automotive landscape richer, not poorer. And in any event, we expect the 1 M to sell briskly. But if we were in the market for this level of vehicle, we might go a different route. To wit, instead of this..

why not this..

plus this, with the money left over?

Latest M Coupe versus penultimate, let’s take a quick look at some of the basic numbers:

2011 1-Series M Coupe (E82):

  • Est. base price: $45,000
  • Curb weight: 3296 lbs
  • Horsepower: 335
  • Torque, lb-ft: 332 (“burstable” to 369)
  • Power-to-weight: 0.10 hp/lb
  • Cost-per-hp: $134/hp

2006-2008 Z4 M Coupe (E86):

  • Est. market price, 2010: $30,000 (base price, 2008: $52,225)
  • Curb weight: 3230 lbs
  • Horsepower: 330
  • Torque, lb-ft: 262
  • Power-to-weight: 0.10 hp/lb
  • Cost-per-hp: $91/hp

What’s more, the Z4M has as its beating heart the stirring, gloriously high-revving S54B32, a naturally-aspirated powerplant we’d pick any day over the E82’s twin-turbocharged N54B30, a fine engine in its own right but ultimately not as special (doesn’t have the same M pedigree) or charismatic.

True, the Z4M is down quite a lot on torque, and the 1er represents the latest in development from BMW M GmbH (the E86 is a penultimate model, after all, and now going on five years in age), but we’d gladly trade that for a car that:

  • still offers 8 or 9/10th the performance of the latest M (probably closer to 9/10th)
  • is likely just as entertaining, if not more
  • looks better (subjective)
  • feels more special (also subjective)
  • leaves money left over (about $15,000) for an equally desirable machine (and a nice example of one, at that) for when the mood or occasion calls for momentum driving, vintage road rallying, or simply tooling around town in a timeless icon— the one that started it all, really:

You couldn’t ask for more than a garage that housed these two cars— it really would be a dream garage in every way. Not feeling the 02? Fifteen stacks still buys you a heck of a lot of car (and not just BMW)— older car, to be sure, but one that’s no less desirable. There, the list of possibilities runs long. So when it comes to buying the 1 M or buying the Z4 M, for us it really couldn’t be more of a no-brainer.

~ by velofinds on December 14, 2010.

16 Responses to “An alternative to the new M Coupe”

  1. Agree 100%.

  2. z4m or a 996 carerra is what I was thinking about.

  3. well…being someone who really likes the Z4 Coupe AND the 1-series….you’re forgetting that plenty of people do not like the design of the Z4 Coupe, and that it has miserable practicality as an only car…..the 1-series is still a small coupe with reasonable storage and even a usable back seat. The Z4M is also a very weird handling car…i have driven 2 of them, and both of them made me feel awkward; and others have also testified to this. The 1-series, on the other hand is a very neutral and well balanced car. I have no doubt that the 1M would kill the Z4 Coupe around a track due to the Z4s strange yet interesting handling abilities———–that being said, i like weird…and i prefer the Z4M Coupe as well. HOWEVER, the best alternative is buying a 135i Coupe for $23k (yes, they’re everywhere for that much now) and mod the living piss out of it with $8k….and kill whatever 1Ms come your way.

    • no kidding? i have not checked used 135i prices, so there’s a surprise.

      what i don’t love about the base 135i is the weight: 3450 lbs. it sounds like a lot— nay, it’s only about 100 lbs lighter than an e92 335i. i wish it were more. i also like that the z4m has a lower center of gravity than the 135i.

  4. The Z4 M Coupe and E46 M3 Comp Package are on my short list of cars I want to consider in the spring/summer.

    A friend of mine has an ’07 Z4 M Coupe in Sapphire Black and absolutely loves it. Only down side is the nose is so long that you really have to be good at estimating your depth in a space when parking!

  5. Completely agree. I’d rather have an Z4 M Coupe + Cash. I’d still keep the Z4 M Coupe if both were priced the same.

    Plus… 315 Hoosiers are unlikely to fit on the 1 M:


  6. Or swap the S54 into the 2002…
    [evil laughter]

    • cripes! one wonders if that’s ever been done [successfully]? even the thought of an s50 or s52 swap is crazy..

      • it’s probably been done. I saw an S54 shoehorned into an E30 M3(very clean at that – linked below) – my guess is the 2002 can probably accommodate one. The question is – can your budget accommodate it? 😉

        S54 engine in a mint E30 M3

  7. I’m sorry but I don’t think it is subjective that the Z4 coupe is prettier than the 1-series M. It’s an objective fact.

  8. Not a fan of the Z4M etc, much prefer the original M-coupe, E30/46 M3, even a 130i, which is the best balanced of all the above Bimmers.

    • the original m coupe (the z3m, but with the later s54) or the e46 m3 would also make credible stand-ins for the z4m from a performance standpoint, plus save even a few more dollars.

  9. of possible interest:

    [gigya src="" width="400" height="300" quality="high" wmode="transparent" allowFullScreen="true" flashvars="clip_id=17772944&" ]

    the burble is nice (skip to 4:15).

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