M Dynamics

The 1M's dynamics are typical M — balanced and controllable overall. The car enters turns with practically no understeer, and rear traction can be broken loose through both acceleration and lift. Technically, the practically unflappable M3 might be "better," but the 1M is more fun. The M3 is famously a car that makes you think you're a better driver than you are. Because it's less buttoned-down, the 1M requires you to actually be better.

BMW kindly offers an M Dynamic Mode that backs off the electronic stability system and lets you slide about some, though when the nanny does kick in, it happens much more noticeably than in the M3. Compared with the M3, the 1M has few electronic gadgets. There are no adaptive suspension or automatic transmission options, so the steering wheel's M button merely sharpens throttle response.

I'm less enthusiastic about the steering. Its ratio is 12.5:1 versus the 135i's 16:1, which makes sense for a performance version. Ditto for the increased steering effort. However, I found the steering a little too heavy and a lot numb.

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