New BMW 1M Blows M3 Away! Kind Of. Sort Of. Well, It Depends…

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth
new bmw 1m blows m3 away kind of sort of well it depends

Just in case

Top speed for the E92 M3 was 190km/h, which is 118mph. (Although this particular graphic makes it appear as though that was the speed measured at the start/finish line, a comparison of several Sport Auto graphics makes it apparent that they are measuring max speed on the straight). This means we’re dealing with a much tighter track than what we might find in the United States. For a comparison, my Audi S5 was able to hit 142 on the back straight at VIR, and my VW Phaeton was able to do 134. My 3.4-liter 986S Boxster has no trouble clearing 135 on the back straight at Mid-Ohio. None of these cars have the power-to-weight ratio of a BMW 1M. The closest track I can think of to this Hockenheim layout is MSR Houston, which is longer but doesn’t have much more in the way of straight-ahead track surface. Even the Alan Wilson courses like BeaveRun have longer straights. Perhaps Waterford Hills might be a fair comparison; it takes some guts to get 120mph out of anything on the very short front straight there.

The shorter and slower the track, the less important power is. No wonder, then, that the 1M, which has tires and wheels very similar to that of the M3 while weighing about three hundred pounds less, has no trouble keeping up. Furthermore, the computer-controlled turbo generates maximum torque very early in the rev range and holds it steady, while the M3 has to build power over the entire rev range in the classic manner of a small-displacement normally-aspirated engine. (Yes, a four-liter V-8 is “small-displacement”.)

On a full-sized American track we might see the situation reverse itself. On the Nurburgring, which is fundamentally an eight-minute dyno test combined with an eight-minute shock dyno test, the same magazine reports that E92 runs 8:05 against the 1M’s 8:12. I’d like to see how Sport Auto managed another one of their one-tenth gaps, in this case the one between the stick-shift and PDK versions of the Cayman S. Shifting a “dogbox” sequential-box 911GT3 Cup takes more than one-tenth of a second, each time. Perhaps the gearbox is really heavy…

Perhaps BMW would like to replicate this test in the United States by providing TTAC with an example of each and letting us run them around Mid-Ohio with a Traqmate on them. We’d be able to determine if the price difference between the two cars led to a real-world driving experience upgrade. Perhaps we’ll pitch the Bavarians on the matter. I doubt they will give it… oh, more than a tenth-second’s worth of consideration.

Seven seconds isn’t much of a margin on an eight-minute track, but one-tenth of a second on a one-minute track is still far less. This is the kind of margin which can just as easily be the product of a two-or-three-degree drop of temperature or the random action of mild (~3mph) wind around the course. The cynic in me wants to suggest that Sport Auto didn’t work too hard to get that extra tenth out of the E92 M3. That wouldn’t have generated very many clicks, would it? “$75,000 BMW Beats $47,000 BMW, World Does Not End”. I would suggest that the random-chance factor at that track, using street cars on street tires, is about one second. In other words, the driver might turn in an identical performance two laps in a row and the times might diverge by a full second due to tire temperature, intake temperature, and other uncontrollable situations.

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2 of 22 comments
  • William442 William442 on Apr 26, 2011

    We're looking at these cars now to replace the C43. My argument is a couple versions of the Corvette will "run circles around" all of them, and I can repair it. Keep the interesting stuff coming, it all helps.

  • Fred Fred on Apr 26, 2011

    If I could afford any of those cars and track performance was paramount then I would get a Lotus Elise.

  • Prabirmehta Great review! Brought back memories of my 2005 Z4 - loved it! I recently drove the 2023 Z4 and it felt similar in many ways to my 2005 (despite the much nicer and updated interior). Now your review has me rethinking whether to buy another one? :)
  • Haruhi Where’s this exact location
  • ToolGuy This is a good approach and a nice writeup, but it shows Tim Healey as the author. Who wrote it?
  • FreedMike Race car drivers are all alpha-types. Aggression is part of the deal. I think you see more of that stuff in NASCAR because crashes - the end result of said aggression - are far more survivable than they would be in F1 or IndyCar.
  • Analoggrotto Only allow Tesla drivers to race, we are the epitome of class and brilliance.