Luxury-car launches are usually few and far between, but BMW’s exclusive Philippine distributor, Asian Carmakers Corp., had a special treat in store as it unveiled two luxury sports cars. At first glance, each car caters to a distinct and separate market segment.
The first is the BMW 1 Series M Coupé. Previously, in BMW history: the German company started to build its reputation on small, sporty sedans. Its modern lineup essentially took off with the 2002 sedan of 1968. Its successor eventually became known as the 3 Series. For decades, BMW’s 3 Series was its entry level vehicle. Then, as the 3 Series grew larger and heavier, it left the door open for a smaller car to slot below it.
The 1 Series was then launched as a purer, sportier driving machine. Thanks to a more familiar two-door profile, the 1 Series Coupé was, for some, the 2002 reborn. The first-generation 1 Series is a delight to drive, with a grippy, tossable chassis. Whether in base 118i guise or in mad twin-turbo 135i mode, the 1 Series is essentially a small sports car with a couple of back seats thrown in for practicality. If the 135i is borderline insane, then the 1 Series M Coupé is downright bonkers (the overly long name is to avoid confusion with the M1, a Lamborghini-built racing machine, the only series-produced mid-engined BMW).
Stuffing an overwhelmingly powerful engine into a small car is one tried-and-tested formula for BMW’s M (Motorsport) division. The 1 Series M Coupé (let’s call it the 1M, for short) packs a 3.0 twin-turbo inline-six under its diminutive hood. Thanks to such technologies as gasoline direct injection and low-inertia turbochargers, there’s 340 hp on tap; the engine outputs more than 100 hp/liter. There’s also massive torque, at 450 Nm from as low as 1500 rpm. An overboost function ups that to 500 Nm.
The 1M is all about quickness, hitting 100 kph from standstill in just 4.9 seconds. Top speed is an electronically limited 250 kph. Power goes to the rear wheels for purity of steering and handling. A beefed-up six-speed manual transmission with short throws puts power to the ground, via 19-inch wheels. An M-developed limited-slip differential channels the torque to the wheel with the most grip, even in the most slippery of conditions. There’s a full alphabet soup of electronic driving aids, from Cornering Brake Control (CBC) to Dynamic Stability Control (DSC). To put the 1M in full-on hell-hound mode, you need only one letter: the M dynamic mode, activated by a dedicated push button, dials down the stability control and enables the driver to initiate oversteer.
At the opposite end of the spectrum is the new 6 Series Convertible. Where the 1 Series M is a superpowered roller skate, the 6 Convertible leans toward comfort; it’s a Gran Turismo in looks and character. If the 1M is a pit bull, the 6 Convertible is a greyhound—all graceful lines overlaying sinewy muscle. The 6 Series has recently gained a double-helping of beauty, in contrast to the pugnacious styling of the previous model.
At the launch, Glen Dasig, ACC sales and marketing director, himself a new addition to the company, said, “The new BMW 6 Series will add to the tradition of open top cars that embodies the hallmark proportions of a BMW convertible.”
Making sure that the 6 Series passengers arrive in plenty of time as well as style is a choice of engines. The 640i Convertible is powered by a twin-turbo inline-six engine with 320 hp, while the 650i carries V8 firepower good for 407 hp. The company’s eight-speed automatic transmission transmits power to the rear wheels.
The 6 Series’ luxurious interior carries four passengers, with the long wheelbase reportedly improving rear legroom. As is customary for BMW, the cockpit layout is oriented toward the driver, with buttons to electrically lower the soft top just a touch away.
The 1 Series M and 6 Series Convertible embody two different missions and two completely different segments. We can’t help but fantasize: with P16 million and change on hand, P5.54 million for the 1M and P10.7 million for the 650i Convertible, we could splurge on both. The 1M would be an excellent (if seriously overpowered) city car, carving through traffic and generating huge grins. The 6 Convertible would then be a great companion for driving to the countryside where, once we drive free of stifling heat and pollution, wind and sun would be refreshing change.