Yes Yes Yes oh YES!: good looks, good ride, superb engine
Oh dear me no: long expensive list of options
A 6 cylinder BMW is one of life’s little pleasures. A 6 cylinder BMW engine that’s been fettled by “M” falls into the realms of shear smut. It sounds rather like she has been gotten at while parked inadvertently on a James Bond set.
This car is not to be confused with the M2 which is as yet unreleased. It will be well worth waiting for, but some have said the M235i might struggle once the full chilli of the M2 is sampled. I think that might be overreaching because the M235i has 240kw which is enough to be going on with. The M2 is said to have 280kw but for the extra gear and another 40kw, what will the price difference be? On the road in NSW, M235i would cost a princely 87 grand and some change. That’s a lot of coupon clipping.
The question remains: What to you get for your doh?
The answer: A shedload of fun.
The warmed over 2 series coupe is the most fun you can have standing up. It is considerably better looking than the 1 coupe it replaced.
Oh yeah, don’t forget BMWs new numbering system which goes thus:
1 series – 5 door hatch
2 series – 2 door coupe (the 2 door 1 series)
3 series – 4 door sedan/wagon
4 series – 2 door coupe/convertible 3 series, and a 4door gran coupe (presumably a 4 door 3 series for gran)
5 series – 4 door sedan/wagon
6 series – 2 door coupe/convertible and a gran coupe (a 4 door 5 series for gran?)
7 series – 4 door limo (AKA big German Barge)
So, a 4 series is a 2 door 3 series that also has a 4 door model, and a 6 series is a 2 door 5 series with a 4 door model. Confused? Don’t forget a plethora of assorted SUVs and the sexy little Z drop top. The addition of the 2 and 4 series nomenclatures made sense when they had only 2 doors. So, can anyone explain why 4 and 6 series 4 door Gran Coupes are not 3 and 5 series 4 door Gran Coupes?
But, I digress, back to the exterior. It is drop dead gorgeous. Gone are the severe angles which made the 1 coupe look like a canoe with a cabin on top. Now the 2 series looks like a pucker sports coupe, even in the base model. It comes complete with “angel eye” daytime running lights and a beautifully sculptured rump. The tail lights have little sculptured trails that look like they’ve had a big paw dragged across them.
Disappointingly, I had to fumble for my keys as smart entry in the 2 series is an option. Once ensconced in the comfy but firm Dakota leather driver’s seat (bottom models only get Pleather!), I discovered smart start, HALAUJAH! I can start the car without the key but because I need it to lock the car there is no point putting it away then getting it back out again. It seems it seems like a silly cost saving which a buyer might reasonably expect not to have been taken.
The interior design is understated, very understated. It’s good quality but doesn’t feel cutting edge.
Once the start button is pressed, the atmosphere transformed by that orgasmic engine note. Think raspy purr, with claws.
As an interesting aside, the 2 series is only 200mm shorter and 200 kg heavier than the E36 328i coupe from the 90’s. It is 3 seconds faster to 100kph (4.8 seconds) and has a smidge under 100kw more power. The M235i also has a 100mm longer wheelbase translating to more interior room. I mention this because I had a long standing affair with the E36. Not since the 635CSI from the 70’s had I been so captivated by a BMW coupe. All 3 models have the signature 6 cylinder BMW growl of which I’m so fond. So would the M235i be as good as the objects of desire from my past?
Well of course they were. Not only was it as good as, but it trounced the classic models making me happy and sad in equal measure.
The BMW has a split personality. She is a little old granny when all you want to do is a bit of shopping. If you’ve been over enthusiastic at DJ’s Boxing Day sale, you can lay the seats down for more space. It also means our obligatory “2 bags test” is passed with flying colours. Once you’ve deposited your shopping safely on a classic mid-century-modern chair in your tastefully decorated lounge room, you can set about doing some serious damage to your fuel bill. If 4.8 seconds to 100 doesn’t do it for you then you’ll need to spend a whole lot more to do any better. BMW claims a smidge over 10L/100k for city fuel consumption, but a heavy foot beats that figure about the head rather severely. Even the 7.6L/100k combined figure takes a thorough beating if you really get stuck in.
You’ll no doubt be tempted to use the “sport” function for the 8 speed auto because it sharpens the changes and holds gears longer. In this mode the coupe feels even sharper but if you still aren’t happy, there is a dial to sharpen the chassis as well. There are 3 modes: nana, insane, and death wish. Selecting “death wish” disables part of the traction control and the electronic baby-sitters leave you to your own devices. Use this mode at your peril. You might think this makes the ride about as comfortable as a block of cement but not a bit of it. In fact the ride feels subtle and luxurious regardless of mode.
The modes are meant to make the M go around corners better, and it probably does. However even in the conservative guise, she feels like a guided missile. Each corner is more glorious than the last. Mountain passes in “sport” setting is an almost religious experience, especially if you use the steering wheel paddles to manually select your gears. There is an indicator so you always know which gear you’re in, but really all you need is the engine’s symphony to tell you what you need. Should you want to feel like you’re driving a manual, you can always use the centre gear lever. The gears are selected by moving forward or backward, and when you’ve finished behaving like an 18 year old P plater, you press the button on top of the selector for “park”. It’s all very civilised.
At first the audio system with its Idrive controller looks daunting but a quick fiddle brings the enormous LCD screen to life. You can spend hours keeping yourself entertained. While exploring, you can stream tunes from your phone, and the sound is fabulous if you have gone for the Harman/Kardon. It will go loud enough the break ear drums but BMW accepts no responsibility for extreme pleasure.
The sat nav in voice mode is brilliantly easy. Voice commands can be used is many of the car’s functions, but sat nav is probably the only mode where she doesn’t get pushy and ask you to repeat a million times. Address input using voice is surprisingly easy but she gets the wobbles when trying entry Points Of Interest. Dialling a phone contact is much easier just by pressing the IPhone’s SIRI button (in a cradle of course). Using the inbuilt system keeps asking for more detail, or confirmation, or just wanting a chat, so I gave up. Some systems actually use SIRI to voice dial, but not this one. I suspect most of the strife was operator error. An extended period of familiarity might well make the lady in the dash board a bit less of a school matron.
The Cruise Control has a breaking function which will probably save you no end of points off your licence. Something of a coup for BMW is the connectivity function where emergency services can be called with your location. This, and the extended functions such as Find My Vehicle comes at extra cost.
It would be churlish of me not to mention some of the other excellent options:
Auto parking with rear-view camera 1300
Auto High Beam with anti dazzle mirrors 1560
Electric seats with heating 3120
Tyre Pressure Monitor 560
Heated steering wheel 400
Glass sunroof 2600
Darker tinting 660
Fold down rear seats (a must have) 600
City breaking/lane departure/pedestrian warning 1000
Digital radio 599
Realtime traffic and concierge service (3yr subscription) 1200
Harman Kardon Sound (must have) 850
If you want a proper manual, you can have that sans cost.
There are more options but some of these will no doubt be standard as the years pass. Remember, airbags and ABS were once “at cost options”. The rear-view camera should be fitted as a matter of safety to all cars. Since they are included standard in a humble Hyundai and cost so little, I’d expect it in a BMW with such a brilliant LCD monitor already on board. A little birdie told me some of these may well be included sooner rather than later.
Even without any of the options, the M235i is one of the best drives for the money. I’d go so far as to say it’s spectacular handling, stratospheric performance and divine ride make for one of the best small performance coupes on the market. It is gorgeous, comfortable, and is as at home on a race track as it is in town. I could easily imagine long road trip, hand in hand with my soon-to-be-hubby, and getting out at the other end needing a cigarette. Apart from the options list being a bit verbose, there is no fault with BMW’s M235i, not a one. Will it still have a niche when the M2 comes out? Yes it will, without a doubt, but I’d want more inclusions gratis.
Would I buy one? Yes, and in a spasm of buying frenzy, I’d have no hesitation in throwing a few more creature comforts in. I love this car with every fibre of my being. In fact I’d consider buying “His and His”.
Price: $87,443 (NSW on road), 2 series start from $56,279 on-road (option costs vary between models)
Engine: 3.0L, 24valve, twin-turbo, in-line 6 cylinder, 240kw/450Nm
Performance/fuel econ: 4.8 seconds 0-100kph, 7.6L/100k combined (claimed)
Kerb weight: 1470kg
Rear wheel drive