BMW’s M division has always been known for its high level of innovation. Their latest creation is the M version of the 1 series which offers a pumped up, pint sized, compact coupe. Competing with the 1M is the 2011 Infiniti G 37 IPL (Infiniti Preformance Line) coupe. This sleek coupe takes Infiniti in a new direction in terms of performance, placing the 1M squarely in its sights. Initially, you may say that both these cars seem to be worlds apart but surprisingly, they have roughly the same weight, power outputs, and price tag.
To begin with, the engine inside the 1M is a variant of the engine that lives in the 335, a rambunctious 3.0 liter straight six that has been coupled with twin turbochargers. This aluminum/magnesium block has been endowed with variable valve timing which helps it pump out a respectable 335 horsepower and 332 lb/ft of torque. The fun does not stop there, as the torque can be increased for short periods with a function called “turbo overboost” which provides an extra 37 lb/ft of torque. This feature shouldn’t be called turbo overboost, it should really just be a giant button labeled “FUN”. This peppy engine is also mated to a six speed manual that has been specially designed by BMW with a brand new cooling system, making it the lowest drag manual transmission in BMW’s history. These components help propel the 1M to 60 mph in 4.7 seconds and this engine will keep pulling all the way to a governed top speed of 155 mph.
Additionally, in order to maximize the power, the engineers from Munich have been busy stripping away weight from the already light 1 series. The 1M weighing just 3362 lbs, has lost 11 lbs in comparison to its base model the 135i, which comes in at 3373 lbs. Even with such a lightweight version, the engineers at the M division resisted the urge to cut any corners and fitted this sports car with 14.2 inch discs in front and 13.8 inch discs in back. These two factors plus a suspension from the M3 Competition tells us that it will be no slouch when facing those tight hairpins on your favorite road.
On the opposite side of the playing field resides the G37 IPL, which has a spirited 3.7 liter V6 under the hood that churns out a respectable 348 horsepower and 276 lbs/ft of torque. These robust numbers are, in part, due to its variable valve timing. With all those horses in the stable (which are mated to a six speed manual), it still oddly lacks the nifty downshift rev matching option offered by its parent company, Nissan. Even so, this car is no slouch and hits 60 mph in 5.3 seconds, climbing up to a governed top speed of 150 mph.
The G37, however, suffers a bit from an attack of the pudge. The model we tested tipped the scales at 3720 pounds, which is a gaping 358 pounds heavier than the 1M... So much for that 13 horsepower advantage. Helping to restrain this beast are the equally large 14 inch, 4 piston disc brakes in front and 13.8 inch 4 piston discs in back. With the re-tuned suspension and the quicker steering response the G37 IPL promises agility giving the Infiniti a fighting chance against the might of Munich.
BMW 1M- For roughly the same price you get a no-compromise sports car that stays true to the M principle by adding on generous portions of extra power and provides handling that can dominate any corner.. The Infiniti, on the other hand, seems to be facing an identity crisis. It cannot decide whether it wants to be a luxurious grand tourer with an added bit of pep or a full on sports car. Ultima tely Infiniti’s G37 IPL is dominated by BMW’s no holds barred approach to developing a sports car which led the 1M, a creme de la creme effort in its class.
The BMW 1M has an honest and serious, but somewhat smashed appearance. It’s kind of like someone returned in a 3 series after its rear end crash test and said, “Hey, here’s our new 1 series.” The serious 19 inch wheels, clad in sticky rubber, helps the public further realize its sporting pedigree. The interesting thing about this vehicle is that the more we look at it, the more it grows on us. Its squat (20mm lower) and wide stance (increase of 71 mm at the front and 46mm in the rear) instantly lets you know that this is no ordinary 1 series.
The Infiniti, on the other hand, is a very classical shape with a long sloping hood and a small trunk. The only fault we can really see is the fact that the trunk is garnished with a spoiler that looks like they based it on a plank of wood then grafted it onto the trunk and lamented , “job done.” Similar to the BMW, the Infiniti’s tweaked suspension and 19 inch aluminum wheels flaunt its sporting pedigree. Another sure sign of this reworking by Infiniti are the two chrome exhaust tips that peek out from under the bumper like two aluminum moles.
Infiniti- The shape is more balanced than the squat compact BMW, yet it still manages to show off its austerity. Its subtle lines exude more class than the sharp angles of the brash, vulgar BMW with its flared wheel arches and its coat of “look at me!” paint..
Examining BMW’s lean interior, reminds us of the old 2002 with its basic, yet comfortable interior. When it comes to the Infiniti, the compromise between driving experience and luxury is swayed towards luxury. Conversely, in the 1M you get the feeling that this balance has been swayed heavily towards functionality with no extra garnish to spoil the ultimate goal-speed. This interior, although a bit bland, feels like an old favorite and is reminiscent to Mom’s macaroni and cheese. While it does not hail from the city’s finest eatery, as soon as you sit down and take a bite, you feel right at home.
Going from the BMW to the Infiniti is like suddenly being beamed into the pit of the Starship Enterprise. The Infiniti G37 IPL comes standard with satellite navigation and is adorned with large amounts of aluminum on the center console. All the gadgetry and amenities that come standard on this car leave the pit feeling cluttered and the driver feeling claustrophobic.
BMW- Even with the Infiniti’s warmth, it looks too flashy and has a strong resemblance to a teenager’s room. There is too much clutter which seizes up any free space, ultimately ruining any sense of place or warmth. Whereas in the BMW, it’s simple yet also clean and efficient. In this vehicle the interior has achieved both a level of comfort and functionality which is lacking in the Infiniti.
While the Infiniti’s sleek coupe styling won us over it’s haphazard approach to performance left us feeling underwhelmed compared to the BMW which gave us more performance and a better interior quality for $2,200 less. In short, the car that we would rather have is, without a doubt, the BMW 1M coupe. This little-sports-car-that-could draws upon BMW’s sporting legacy and is a noble contribution to its M heritage. It is the epitome of a BMW . The 1M holds an exalted and respected place in our garage due to the fact that it is more than happy to be driven casually everyday but also won’t back from the opportunity to hug the curves on Mulholland Highway.