Even if you do happen across a rare, special set of wheels, you can't be seen to stop and stare at it while it's parked up, for fear of friends and strangers instantly judging you a car nerd, as you incessantly pour over the details in front of you. Car spotting has to be a subtle, fleeting experience. Anyway, chances are anything special enough to warrant stopping passers by in their tracks will be so rare that they're hardly seen at all.
I was really keen to catch one in the metal, since, as previous Tyre Roar visitors will know, I was never convinced by the 1M's styling. After it being one of the most exciting new cars of 2011, the reveal of the fussy front and dumpy tail bookending over-inflated flanks let it down somewhat.
And then I saw one. Coming home from work, in the small hours of a dewy summer morning, I pulled off the main road towards my house and there, under the glow of suburban streetlights, with icy water dripping off its muscles, was a Valencia Orange 1M. The very long termer currently being put through its paces by CAR Magazine, published in Peterborough, just a short schlep up the A1 from me.
Having crawled by the car as slow as I dared to take it all in, I decided to try a cheeky Tweet at Ben Barry, road test editor of CAR and neighbour of mine, to see if he'd mind me inviting myself over and having a good poke round what is one of the cars of the moment. Despite his packed pre-Frankfurt schedule, I was welcomed to pop up the road and check out the baby M, and, as offers you can't refuse go, having a private tour of a brand new M car by a professional motoring journalist isn't a bad way to spend an afternoon.
It's so much more special than the dumpy 1 Series, and it marries the corporate M Division design cues with a genuine sense of fun in the way it looks. Very impressive stuff. Needless to say, the M3 CSL-alike multispoke wheels, deliciously dished on the rear, add to the squat, taut proportions and give the 1M a rather racey demeanour.
Mr Barry kindly let me have a explore the interior as well. If anything were to let the 1M down on showroom appeal, apart from the plastic shroud masking the twin turbo straight six, it'd be the very much standard 1 Series interior, only marginally lifted with some alcantara and orange stitching highlights. Yet as I settled myself in the driver's seat, clinched by the generous bolsters in the small of my back, I warmed to its stark functionality. It's not a surprise-and-delight interior, but it's not distracting either. It's a well built, tactile environment in which driving is enjoyed, but it still plays a strong practicality hand. I didn't even think the much-maligned steering wheel was the uncomfortably bloated item I'd been led to believe it was.
I really appreciate immersing myself in the aura of an M car for an hour, and having soaked up all that oozes from its caricatured physique (all while stationary at the side of the road) I have to agree with Mr Barry's three word verdict on the 1M:
"It's very good."
If you're now hungry for a bit more 1M, follow @JethroBovingdon on Twitter, the current lucky custodion of YH11 FXC. You can also read about his updates on the car with CAR Magazine here. May I also heartily recommend you follow @IamBenBarry while you're at it.
Time for one final shot, and fittingly, we'll have the 1M literally bursting off the page: