The back-to-basics BMW M235i earned a place on our 2015 All-Stars list, effectively kicking the pedestal out from under the “real” M cars, the M3/M4. Editors praised the M235i’s honest performance, manageable size, and (relatively) accessible price. It was, we agreed, the new BMW we could most readily imagine owning. For the next Four Seasons, we do own one.

Having praised BMW for making such a straightforward enthusiast’s car, we conscientiously avoided superfluous options. We ordered our 2014 BMW M235i in Alpine White, its only no-cost color, and paired it with the standard black interior and faux-leather-wrapped seats. Despite our austerity measures, this car isn’t exactly a stripper, as it is the top dog 2 Series. Several options on the entry-level BMW 228i -- including adaptive xenon headlights, a moonroof, adaptive dampers, and larger brakes with opposed-piston calipers -- come standard on the M235i.

Under the hood, BMW’s 3.0-liter turbocharged straight-six makes 320 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque in the M235i spec. We’d paired the sweet six with a six-speed manual, a no-cost option. (Aside from the fact that it would be a sin to configure it any other way, this stick shift happens to be one of the best we’ve sampled from BMW). In keeping with the performance bent, we also made sure our Bimmer was equipped with a limited-slip differential. BMW charges $3,240 to install it at the port when it arrives. (Any M235i owner can have it installed at a BMW dealer for $2,895 plus installation costs.)

Such a good driver’s car deserves a good driver, so we started our ownership experience by picking up the 2014 BMW M235i through BMW’s Performance Center Delivery program in Spartanburg, South Carolina. This thorough and informative driving school is offered at no cost to new BMW owners.

While we were there we couldn’t resist one frill: enrollment in an additional two-day M Driving School ($3,595), where lessons include powersliding M3s, reaching triple-digit speeds in M5s, and lapping the Performance Center’s track.

We completed our new BMW honeymoon by passing through the Tail of the Dragon on our way back to Detroit. No surprise, the compact, powerful 2014 BMW M235i made for a fun ride through the Tail’s 11 miles and 318 curves.

Rest assured there will be more adventures -- and curves -- to come in the 2014 BMW M235i. We’ll also be evaluating how this buff little Bimmer holds up to the Four Seasons grind. Already there’s some grumbling that we didn’t opt for the seat heaters. Stay tuned.

BODY STYLE2-door coupe




AS TESTED$47,290

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