While large BMW’s undoubtedly have a lot to offer, it’s always been the small ones that we’ve like best. Well one of our favorites, the 1 Series coupe is no more. But take heart, that doesn’t mean it’s gone. It’s just wearing a new name, and with it, a whole new attitude!
By now you should be up to speed on BMW’s naming strategy of even number series for coupes and odds for sedans. Well, the latest to fall in line is the 2014 BMW 2 Series, of which this M235i is the current top rung.
But don’t let the “M” name fool you, it’s not a full on M car, but an M “Performance” model. Sort of a tweener if you will, between garden-variety Bimmers and full on M monsters. Basically, more performance, without any compromise in comfort. It makes for a fun factor that’s hard to top in value.
While the 2 replaces the 1 Series Coupe in the lineup, it’s more than a name change. The 2 has gotten bigger, though thankfully not by too much. Every dimension is increased; with overall length up most; 2.8-inches to 174.5. To further distinguish itself, styling is a bit more dramatic; though still fairly conservative; with just enough Teutonic cool to attract more ironic hipsters and young professionals.
Power in our M235i is from a familiar 3.0-liter BMW turbo I6. We’ve lost count of how many BMW’s we’ve driven with this engine and we still love it. It has gotten some M Performance specific tweaks here that raise horsepower to 320 and torque to 330 lb-ft. The base 228i comes with a still competent 240-horsepower 2.0-liter turbo-4.
An 8-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters, as in our test car, is standard; and we found nothing to complain about as shifts are quick in auto mode and response very good when in manual mode. You can still opt for a 6-speed manual, as well.
But, enough sitting still. It’s off to our test track, where the M235i promptly moved off the line with what feels like the perfect amount of power, launching to 60 in an entertaining 5.2-seconds. There’s very little drop off in power as the trans quickly works its way through the gears and to the end of the ¼-mile in 14.0-seconds at 102 miles-per-hour.
A mostly aluminum structure for a typical BMW 50/50 weight balance allows you to push through the corners with minimal loss of speed, and great grip, as well. Suspension design is a double-pivot spring strut arrangement up front and a 5-link in the rear. Adaptive M suspension and electronically controlled shock absorbers are standard on the M235i, with an optional mechanical limited slip rear differential.
Steering feels great both at the wheel and through the chassis. The M235i has the most steering feedback of any BMW we’ve driven in a long time. Brakes, however, not so much. Feedback here is middle of the road with a softish pedal. Still, stops were quick; 115 feet from 60 with excellent stability.
Inside we found a very familiar BMW layout with high quality materials and well done controls throughout the driver-focused space. Yes, that comment even includes iDrive. Front sport seats provide good comfort and support with moderate bolstering. Rear seats however, much less so with merely a suggestion of legroom. Trunk space is actually fairly good for a sporting coupe at 13.8 cubic-ft.; aided by folding seatbacks for more cartage room when needed.
A Driving Experience Control is standard with settings for Comfort, Sport, Sport +, and Eco Pro. Playing with the different modes alters the driving experience noticeably, but Sport or Sport + is where it’s at for us.
But, if this is your first BMW, you might find the ride in those settings quite stiff. Comfort mode helps somewhat, or you can just do your best to avoid broken pavement. No matter which mode you’re in, the exhaust note is great, growling without being obnoxious.
For a small car, it has an overall very solid, almost heavy feel. Not in a bad way; it just feels more substantial and competent than light and toss able.
Government Fuel Economy Ratings for our automatic come in at 22-City, 32-Highway, and 25-Combined. We averaged a fine 25.2 miles-per-gallon in a mildly executed loop of driving. The Energy Impact Score is 13.2-barrels of oil used and 5.8-tons of CO2 emitted annually.
At the risk of going all fanboy, we’ll say that the M235i is just about a perfect package. But perfection never comes cheap with a base price of $44,025. The base, and still very competent, 228i is much more accessible at $33,025.
The 2014 BMW M235i is truly one excellent car. No other premium subcompact coupe comes close. It drives like passionate BMW fans think every BMW should. So, if you’re in the position to leave the family behind, it’s an incredibly fun ride. Proof that sometimes numbers can work in your favor.
Torque: 330 lb-ft.
0-60 mph: 5.2 seconds
1/4 mile: 14.0 seconds @ 102 mph
EPA: 22 mpg city/ 32 mpg highway
Energy Impact: 13.2 barrels of oil/yr
CO2 Emissions: 5.8 tons/yr