I try to write a review of every car I drive, but this is not always possible. In 2015 for many, mostly personal, reasons I missed a few. Here are my abbreviated impressions of the BMW M235i.
I’ve owned seven BMWs. They are had the following traits in common: rear wheel drive, in-line six cylinder engines, and manual transmissions. While they all varied in chassis codes (E28, E34, E36, E39, E46), they were true to the BMW fundamentals of being drivers’ cars, whatever that means. They were simply fun to drive, or at least more fun than their rivals. Unfortunately BMW seems to have sort of lost its ways lately. But there is hope and it is called the M235i.
Dimensionally, it is not far off from the E46 3-series, arguably one of BMW’s best chassis, but it is heavier. There is an in-line six cylinder engine, albeit turbocharged, and a proper six-speed manual transmission. It looks good, too, typically BMW sporty but not over the top like some recent angry-looking M cars. I don’t love the wheels or the taillights, but it’s generally pleasing to the senses. The interior layout is similar to other modern BMWs, but despite this being the smallest of U.S. market BMWs, there is plenty of room inside for those of us over six feet tall. The sport seats are still some of the best in the business.
The features and options list can make enthusiasts drool: the mentioned manual transmission, big brake calipers and huge rotors, adaptive suspension, available limited-slip rear differential ($3240!), sunroof delete option, non-runflat summer tires, carbonfiber trim, black kidney grills, and a ton of other items that previously were not only available in the world of after-market.
But all those parts and features would be useless if they were not attached to a decent chassis. And that is where the BMW M235i shines. It really, and in the most complimentary way, drives like the BMWs of old. Yes, it has an electric power steer rack but unless you’ve spend the last few decades driving nothing but an E30 M3 it won’t bother you much. The suspension is setup for spirited driving, just as it should be, but it’s not jarring in any way. The shifter feels old school bimmer too, and that’s great! Little long but direct and quick. The coupe version of this car is lighter and therefore likely even more nimble.
Overall, this is a great little car whether on a cross-country drive or hot-lapping your favorite track, just as BMWs always intended to be. It looks good enough to impress but won’t offend like some other models of this make, or Maseratis. It’s not amazingly fast but it is damn quick, and feels overall torque-y, like an in-line six should. It handles great but won’t mask you driving mistakes, just as it won’t try to kill you. It’s a throwback to the Bimmers of yore and a prelude to the upcoming M2.
BMW provided the vehicle for the purpose of this review. Images: ©2016 Hooniverse/Kamil Kaluski, All Rights Reserved
Quick Spin: 2015 BMW M235i Convertible
$3240 for the limited-slip differential? Definitely seems like some kind of LSD is involved…Loading…
I worry the 2-series will fall to The Enthusiast’s Car trap: none of the people who love it are likely to fork over the cash to actually buy one new, in the configuration we all want. Most that get sold will be white-on-tan with automatics, and the next generation will be AT and convertible only.
Mixed in with that, it’s not superlative like the M3-4-5-6 or i8, so doesn’t have the halo cred to justify its existence as a really really competent sport coupe.