What it Is
BMW 1 Series tii Concept Preview -- 2008 Chicago Auto Show: Long time fans of the Roundel logo will recognize the tii suffix as being one that graced the later model 2002 sedan of the 1970s. BMW has made no secret that it wants the 1 Series to be viewed as a car in the same vein as the 2002 – a light, agile, quick two-door sedan. That’s the goal with appending tii to the end of a 1 Series concept making its North American debut at the 2008 Chicago Auto Show. The emphasis here is on weight reduction and aerodynamics, along with a white/carbon/blue tri-color design to set it apart.
Why it Matters
BMW has shown concepts in the past that have become production cars. Whether the 1 Series tii is headed that way or not, the company gets another opportunity to link the new two-door sedan with the iconic 2002 model that ignited the brand in the U.S.
What’s Under the Hood
There's no word on what powers the BMW 1 Series tii Concept, but we suspect it’s the same twin-turbocharged, 300-horsepower inline six-cylinder engine that's found in the production 135i, along with the standard six-speed manual gearbox. With significant weight reduction through the use of carbon-fiber reinforced plastic body pieces, more of the existing power is put to good use. Light makes right when it comes to handling, too.
What it Looks Like
To differentiate the tii Concept from other 1 Series coupes, designers added a larger front air dam, a rear spoiler, Gurney flaps and side skirts to the car's “flame surfaced” body. A mirrored tii logo graces the right side of the front bumper, and the exterior color scheme carries a similar look as BMW’s factory-sponsored race cars. That look is carried through to the interior, which features Alcantara on the sport seats, steering wheel and gearshift. It’s a more sparsely-decorated cabin than most BMWs, and is thankfully devoid of iDrive. Overall, it’s in keeping with the interiors on the brand's M cars.
What BMW Says
According to BMW press materials, "The number of segments in which BMW is represented today is larger than ever, so the brand offers The Ultimate Driving Machine in many different guises. But the concept of The Ultimate Driving Machine remains just as relevant and popular as the day the phrase was first coined. This is particularly true of the BMW 1 Series Coupe. No other car offers equally dynamic driving characteristics, simply because no other brand offers comparable heritage and experience in the production of sporting and compact two-door models. This made it all the more tempting to push the performance potential of this model to the absolute limit in the form of the BMW Concept 1 Series tii."
What We Think
BMW has made lightweight versions of its two-door sedans before, although lately that effort has been part of the M performance program. It’s not inconceivable that the 1 Series would receive a serious amount of lightening along with custom aero treatments like those shown on the tii Concept. It could accomplish a couple of things. First, BMW wouldn’t have to spend the money on developing an M version of the car that might not fit in the current lineup. Second, if a 135 tii were close in weight to the Porsche Boxster S or Cayman S, it could seriously undercut them in price and offer comparable performance.
By Bob Beamesderfer
Photos courtesy of Ron Perry and BMW