Isaac Bober’s first drive 2014 BMW M235i review with pricing, specs, ride and handling, safety and verdict.
In a nutshell The M235i follows in the footsteps of its predecessor 135iM promising bang for your bucks and practicality. Can you really have your cake and eat it too?
Practical Motoring Says As far as the M235i goes, yes, you can have your cake and eat it too. There’s enough room for a family, fuel consumption, despite the huge performance is good and there’s almost nothing this side of a Porsche 911 that can hold a candle to the thing, which combines flexibility with poise, grunt and agility.
HAVING SPENT PLENTY of time driving the BMW 135iM and declaring it to be better than its equivalent M3, I approached the M235i with a little trepidation. Would it be as good as its predecessor? I mean, that car was an absolute cracker, offering the sort of bang for your bucks that only, say, a Toyota 86 can match.
For 2014, BMW chose to rebrand its 1 Series coupe and convertibles as 2 Series, which was a nod to the brand’s original sporting coupe, the 1600-2, 2002, and 2002 Turbo. So, no pressure on the thing then.
Walk up to the M235i and it doesn’t look at all like it wants to go hunting Porsche Caymans. If anything, it looks pretty conservative, nay, stealth. Unlike a lot of coupes these days that like to blend their roof line with the boot, the M235i offers proper separation with, in profile, the roof looking like the roof and the boot looking like a boot. No doubt about it, the thing is a good looker.
Around at the front are nice big airdams which replace the fog lights on other 2 Series coupes and convertibles. The 2 Series shares a few of its panels with the 1 Series hatchback, but the headlights and bumpers are different.
Inside, the BMW M235ioffers more room for front and rear seat passengers; there’s more headroom in the front and back and more legroom for backseat passengers. While there are only two doors we didn’t have too much trouble squeezing two infant car seats into the back, and both kids had plenty of room once inside. Without the infant car seats in the back, obviously, there’s a decent amount of room for two six-foot tall passengers. The boot is reasonably sized for this type of car and offers 390 litres of storage space.
Like the exterior, BMW has been careful not to overdo the performance frippery inside. Standard are leather sports seats which lovingly embrace rather than squeeze you and, of course, the M Sport steering wheel which doesn’t feel as meaty as its predecessor, but still feels good in the hands.
The M235iis priced from $79,930 (+ORC) and gets a reversing camera as well as front parking sensors, Bi-Xenon headlights, 18-inch alloys, sat-nav, Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming, rain-sensing wipers, internet functionality, an iDrive touch controller and more.
Under the long bonnet is BMW’s enduring 3.0-litre turbocharged (its predecessor ran two turbos) inline six-cylinder petrol engine which thumps out 240kW (between 5800-6000rpm) and 450Nm of torque (from 1300-4500rpm) – that’s a 5kW rise over its predecessor the 135iM and enough to propel the 235iM to 100km/h in 4.8secs. This engine is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission as standard (a six-speed manual is also available). Fuel consumption ranges 7.6 – 8.1L/100km depending on the transmission.
This engine is an absolute gem that’s just as happy to pootle about on a whiff of throttle as it is hard-charging along a winding stretch of road. There’s no turbo lag and that’s one of the key standouts of the engine, its tractable from low revs and smooth right the way through the rev range. Delicious is the best way to describe it.
We haven’t had a chance to try the M235i with a manual transmission, but after a week in the auto-equipped variant I’m not sure why you’d plump for the manual. The eight-speed auto is as smooth as silk with its shift, responsive to both the steering wheel mounted paddles, and almost impossible to catch in the wrong gear.
If I was concerned the 235iM wouldn’t be able to live up to its predecessor, the 135iM, I needn’t have worried. This new car takes everything the old car offered and adds a few more shovelfuls of, well, goodness. The steering is nice and meaty in its feel, if a little too quick off-centre in its action, you do get used to it but initially you’ll find yourself ‘over-turning’ into a corner.
The M235i really is one of the standouts in this segment as far as handling agility and driver engagement goes. The week we had the M235i saw everything from brilliant sunshine to torrential rain and the level of grip in all conditions impressed, as did the thing’s agility and adjustability. While some websites have been critical of the M235i away from billard table smooth highways, I found it to be excellent across a variety of surfaces. Yes, it offers a firm ride (it’s a sports car don’t forget) but it certainly doesn’t rattle out your fillings. The M235i is my new favourite sub-$100k sports car but that’s not just because of its performance, its because the thing also works as a family car…
As far as safety goes, the BMW 2 Series range doesn’t have an ANCAP crash safety rating but the 1 Series on which it’s largely based gets a five-star rating. The M235i gets a range of active and passive safety systems, including airbags for the driver and front seat passenger as well as head airbags for back seat passengers, central locking, headrests on all seats, and BMW’s Dynamic Stability Control which incorporates anti-lock braking, brake assist, cornering brake control and dynamic traction control.