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Tokyo show: BMW winds up the 1

Back to the Future: Lightweight BMW concept car features old-fashioned black bonnet and even Monaro-style stripes.

Munich maker unveils 1 Series Coupe racing concept

24 Oct 2007

WE SAW the first official images of BMW’s cracking new 1 Series Coupe so long ago it is hard to believe the range-topping 135i twin-turbo two-door has only now made its global motor show debut in Tokyo.

It seems BMW concurs because it also used the occasion to reveal the curiously named “BMW Concept 1 Series Tii” alongside the 135i, which was launched in Europe last week and goes on sale here in June.

Likely to be a fanciful insight into what a race-ready version of BMW’s smallest model could look like – rather than previewing a forthcoming 1 Series variant that delivers even more performance than the 135i – the 1 Series Tii pays homage to the potent and iconic 2002 Tii compact coupe of 1972.

In doing so, however, the carbon-fibre-brandishing Tii, for which no engine, performance or weight details are available, highlights the fact the 135i coupe is actually only 50kg lighter than the similarly-engined 335i coupe at 1485kg – despite riding on a shorter wheelbase and being smaller overall.

14 center imageIt is clear the Tii has undergone a crash diet to deliver even more performance and to answer critics who say the 135i is not light enough, but perhaps BMW would have been wiser to reveal the 1 Series-based X1 mini-SUV that many had expected to surface in compact-car-crazy Japan.

Revealed in Tokyo alongside the 135i coupe on which it is based, BMW calls the Tii concept a “design study based on the 1 Series Coupe with an uncompromising focus on motorsport”.

It is the fifth concept to emerge from BMW this year alone, following the M3 Concept, the Concept CS and the Concept X6/ActiveHybrid.

Heralding the Tii’s more formidable performance are more aerodynamic front and rear airdams and side skirts, plus roof decals and contrasting bootlid and bonnet paint, while “special gurney flaps” on the rear axle are claimed to generate additional downforce.

Weight-saving elements include a carbon-fibre-reinforced plastic (CFP) bonnet that also features airflow-aiding fins, wing mirrors, front side air inlets and rear spoiler, while a visible tow-hook continues the motorsport theme.

Inside, there are sports bucket seats with integrated head restraints and side airbags, an alcantara-clad three-spoke sports steering wheel (with white spokes) and gearshifter, plus specific door trims, doorhandles and driver’s armrest.

Along with a contrasting M-style black, white and blue interior colour scheme, there is a white tachometer and “newly developed structure tissue for the footwell”, which is said to “accentuate the sporting and functional character of the interior”.

BMW has said it will not produce an M1-badged version of the 1 Series, but the Tii concept shows that, if it did, less weight rather than more power are likely to be what separates it from the already-tantalising 225kW/400Nm rear-drive 135i coupe.

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