ASSOCIATE EDITOR GRAHAM KOZAK: The nomenclature is a bit confusing here, and your first instinct may be to simply shrug off the 2014 BMW M235i coupe as another overpriced product of German automotive cynicism. That’s what I did, at first. You jump from the 228i to the M235i, but the six-cylinder coupe isn’t an M-car, at least not really -- what the heck? Another example of BMW creating a pointless niche and charging buckets for the vehicle designed to fill it?
Fortunately, the car largely stands up to scrutiny. It looks great, far better-proportioned than the stubby 1-series coupe, and those blue brake calipers pair nicely with the red exterior paint. I could do without the M badges everywhere, though. The car speaks for itself -- no emblems required.
I haven’t driven the 228i, so I can’t compare it to the M235i, but the latter car is very good in its own right. Everything comes together nicely, from the responsive but not jarring suspension to the equally responsive steering to that six-cylinder. This is what comfortable (I hesitate to call this thing “luxurious”) performance, German-style, is supposed to feel like to me.
Switching drive modes does have a dramatic impact on performance, especially throttle responsiveness. Likewise, tipping the joystick -- it doesn’t quite feel like a proper gear selector -- from “D” to “S” improves responsiveness, no doubt at the cost of fuel economy.
Anyway, it’ll roar if you step on the gas (yes, even in Eco+ or whatever), but you do still enjoy a quiet cabin when cruising along at 80 mph. And the note doesn’t sound too synthetic, though I wouldn’t be surprised if BMW stuck a symposer or resonator between me and the engine.
What is it? The BMW M235i is the high-performance version of the supremely entertaining rear-wheel drive BMW 2-series coupe, which was unveiled at the recent Detroit auto show. The baby brother to the ...
The car is surprisingly OK with the eight-speed automatic; paddle shifters give you some theoretical degree of control over shifts, but I think you’re better off just letting the car do the gear changes if you go with this transmission -- it’s smooth and snappy, and it’ll still permit you to do burnouts. I imagine the six-speed manual is an old-school blast and can’t think of any reason to not option your car that way.
Still, $46,575 is a lot for a car with few creature comforts -- actually, it’s a lot for a car this straightforward no matter how you slice it. You can certainly adapt to life without GPS navigation, but you simply shouldn’t have to at this price. I am still not entirely sure why BMW feels the need to charge as much as it does for its vehicles. I suspect that if the automaker wasn’t spending time (and money) creating and filling niches for X-series SportsActivityDynamicGranCoupes, it might be able to sell good, enthusiast-friendly cars like this at a more reasonable price. I’m not an accountant.
I did like this car, though. If you don’t have a troupe of kids to tote around, and you’re already determined to spend money on a new BMW, this is probably the one to get. Small? I guess, but only by today’s bloated standards. It’s about the same size as a 2000s 3-series coupe. Just do yourself a favor and get the six-speed manual, please.
The 2014 BMW M235i Coupe comes in at a base price of $44,025 with our tester topping off at $46,575.
DIGITAL EDITOR ANDREW STOY: No matter how bizarre BMW’s model proliferation gets and how off-track the bread-and-butter models stray, the company always manages to sneak one near-perfect driver’s car into the lineup. The previous 1-series was it: Properly equipped in straight-six, stick-shift fashion, the 135i was one of my favorite cars on the planet. It was overpriced, underequipped, kind of weird looking and an unbridled joy to drive.
The M235i is all those things minus the weird-looking part and, at least in the case of our tester, equipped with an automatic. A really good automatic, mind you, but it still took some of the fun out of the exquisite turbo six. A manual transmission is a zero-cost (and zero credit) option -- choose it.
Otherwise, this car is what a BMW is supposed to drive like. All you X3 I4 customers and i8 intenders, do me a favor: While you’re at the dealership, drive an M235i even if you have no intention of purchasing one. You need to understand what a proper BMW feels like -- how it steers, how the thrust from the six builds exactly in the rev range where you want it to, how the brakes provide just enough grab without throwing you through the windshield. It’s a sheer delight, and no matter how good your i8 is on fuel or your M5 is at the track or your X5 is at chauffeuring the kids, it won’t be as brilliantly balanced, as simply right, as the M235i.
Unless you live beside a racetrack or you have to regularly carry more than one other person, the M235i is the best overall car BMW makes right now.
The 2014 BMW M235i Coupe speaks for itself.
ASSOCIATE EDITOR JAKE LINGEMAN: This is another awesome eight-speed automatic transmission. The one in theDodge Challenger Hellcat I just drove was awesome, too. Just plain old torque converters in there, but made to work aggressively, I guess.
Paddling this car through the gears is like playing a video game. Revs bounce up and down with the left and right paddles, nearly instantaneously, with nice blips on down shifts. I would still buy a manual, but this is one of the most fun torque-converter automatics I’ve ever driven.
I always put these BMWs in sport-plus mode, which quickens the shifts and throttle, and loosens up the traction control. This BMW setup is nearly perfect. When you’re hammering on it, you can feel the back end wiggling a bit, but the traction control keeps it in line. But it does so without throttling the throttle. And if the tires do start spinning, like a video game, you can just shift up.
It does look a little stubby. I think the 4-series is the best-looking BMW right now, but like Andy said, this is the best driver the company has.
The base price of $44K seems about right. I know that’s more than a handful of other cars, including the basic 3-series, but this car is more fun than almost everything on the street. It’s just the right size, the chassis is sublime, and it’s usable power. The M3, M4, M5 and M6 are all ticket traps. Slow(er) car fast, and all that.
The 2014 BMW M235i Coupe is equipped with a 3.0-liter turbocharged I6 that cranks out 320 hp with 330 lb-ft of torque.
EDITORIAL INTERN BRAD WILEY: This is one bad Bimmer. You really can’t beat the bang per buck ratio on this little rocket. Mechanically speaking, the straight-six turbo engine mashed under the hood is amazing, and who does it better than BMW, am I right? Throw on the hairdryer and this 3.0-liter is a lethal combination -- lethal for the tires, that is. Parked side by side with our long-term BMW M3, the 2014 BMW M235i coupe shares a few style lines; obviously it’s a little shorter, and the masculinity of M3 fades out of sight. But by no means is the M235i hard on the eyes.
On the inside, the entry-level M-series is refined and sporty. While the amenities are stripped down in comparison to the M3, the M235i still offers more than a handful of gadgets. The radio is intuitive, no touchscreen BS, and the center wheel is a very comfortable to use while channel surfing. What century are we living in? But a car in the $40K price range that doesn’t come with a navigation system? Ah, I’ll trade that for launch control and a map any day.
Handling is on par. I, for one, love the weighted feel of the steering. It’s compensation per speed variable is on point no matter the circumstance. Turn up the volume to sport-plus mode and it is a total blast. We took our tester out to Michigan International Speedway and let ’er rip. A quick side-step brake torque appliqué, and the launch control holds the Bimmer in a pounce-ready stance. A steady foot on the right pedal, and this coupe races to 60 mph in just 4.6 seconds and a consistent 13.1-second quarter-mile time.
The BMW M235i is a handful of power that opens the door for buyers looking to get into the M-series range without the true sticker shock. A purchase well made in my Germanic book.
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