BMW 1M VS E90 M3 Shootout – By STIKKK

The subject of today’s shootout is the highly evolved BMW E90 M3 and the “instant classic” 1M. They are both very impressive machines, but they are actually very very different.

In my journey to find an all-rounded car that can serve as a family car and a weekend toy, I stumbled upon The E90 M3. It is an excellent 4 door machine that is truly a 4 seat “race car” for the street. Well, the “race car” part is a little exaggerated, but it is not that far from the truth, here is why. The E90 M3 is the 4th generation M3 BMW had introduced throughout the years. It comes with a 4.0L V8 that produces 400HP, a big jump from the 333HP Straight Six from the last E46 generation.

e90 M3 Hong Kong

This particular M3 I am driving today is a 4 door version with DCT transmission, lowered suspension, sport exhaust, etc. I have 3 passenger riding along with me today which undoubtedly contribute to a very unfavourable power-to-weight ratio. What is impressive is that the performance of this M3 didn’t feel a tad deteriorated!! The power delivery from the V8 is silky smooth, even smoother than the legendary straight six which makes BMW famous. The torque is not instantaneous but the rather linear increase throughout the RPM makes it a joy to rev the engine to redline. I kinda like this linear delivery which feels much more natural compared to the instant torque of some cars with relatively flat torque curve. It is simply more exciting to rev it out. The downside of course, is that you have to keep it “boiling” to stay within the power band.

The transmission was a pleasant surprise. I am an absolute fan of Manual transmission, I always prefer manual. BUT, this Double Clutch unit from BMW really did impress me and for a moment, I actually think I can live with this transmission forever 😉 The upshift is very smooth and brisk, downshifts are lightning fast and responsive. This BMW unit is as good as the latest Ferrari Dual clutch unit and hands down better than Porsche’s PDK, which sometimes refuse to listen to your commands.

The brakes are very strong and full of feel and handling is superb!! Remember, I have a total of 4 adults in the vehicle, I can’t imagine how good the car is, if I loosen some “weight”. The handling is very neutral and the car is absolutely planted in the corners. It inspires immense confidences to for me to drive like I stole it. It was so much fun, we returned the car 20 mins after we took it. The owner was a bit worried that his car was really stolen or we ended up in a ditch somewhere……..

I can imagine taking 3 passengers and going to a race track with this car and having a hell of a fun time! Hence I must say this E90 M3 is truly a “Family Race Car for the Street”.

Now, let’s jump into a 1M and see what’s different. Gone is the V8 rumble from the E90, replaced with a throaty Turbo charged Straight Six. The 3.0L Engine produces 340HP, 60HP shy of the V8. According to BMW, a lot of components from the E92 M3 was transplanted into the smallish 1M chassis. As a result, the 1M do feel like a proper M car. But this pocket rocket is a crazy son-of-a-bitch that is not that easy to tame.

BMW 1M Hong Kong

First, the power is very impressive. It’s truly big power in a small package. The explosive acceleration is very addictive, especially when over-boost mode is engaged. Sudden acceleration will ALWAYS overwhelm the rear tires, so a heavy right foot in mid-corner is a big no-no, but since I don’t take “NO” for an answer, tail-out slide is just a stab of throttle away…….extreme FUN. When the M3 inspire huge confidence for you to “drive the wheels off”, the 1M demands absolute respect if you switched off the electronic aids. SO, if you are not familiar with the car or you have doubts about your skill, please leave all traction aids ON.

BMW 1M Hong Kong

Over-accomplished is the word I will use to describe the brakes on the 1M. Just a touch, it will slow you from triple digit to nothing. Steering is fast and super-communicative, perfect partner for you to dance around mountain roads. The E90 M3 however, has a rather “un-natural” feel to the steering, it is precise, but numb. The 6-speed manual transmission is just a jewel!! It instantly reminds you of the E30 M3 box. Now I have to take back the statement about living with the E90 M3 DCT “forever”, NO WAY!!

As I have mentioned before, both the M3 and the 1M are very accomplished cars. I equally like them and will fork out money to buy any of them. However, if you are looking for a bit more excitement and a bit more exclusivity, you should buy a 1M……….which I DID 🙂

Read more at Kenneth’s Car Review Blog: Driven by STIK

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