2020 BMW M235i Gran Coupe First Test Review: Entry-Level Missile

Like most enthusiasts, we love nimble little cars. Given that we currently have a BMW 228i Gran Coupé in our long-term fleet, we wanted to spend some quality time with its spicier 2 Series sibling, the M235i, to see if the most powerful model was worth its $ 8,000. additional, a not insignificant amount. silver. Both have standard all-wheel drive, but the M235i gets extra horsepower, a limited-slip differential, stronger exhaust, stickier tires, and a standard M Sport suspension looking for a spikier driving experience. .

Among the styling cues that set the M235i apart from the 228i: a different grille pattern, two trapezoidal tailpipes, a more aggressive body kit, unique 18-inch wheels and silver mirror caps. It’s pretty obvious when you’re looking at the heated 2-Series – especially when the cars are seen side-by-side – but that fact crystallizes once you boot up the M235i and hear its bubbling exhaust note.

M235i Gran Coupe: test results and impressions

The sweet sounds come from a turbocharged, 2.0-liter, 301-horsepower four-cylinder, and it’s the star of the M235i show. Minimal turbo lag and a wide power band allow for effortless acceleration at all speeds. The throttle may feel slightly lazy during the initial shift, but this can be almost entirely mitigated by selecting Sport mode. Once you shift, the eight-speed automatic does a great job of keeping the engine boiling – so much so that you might be surprised how often you go over the speed limit.

On the test track, the M235i hit 100 km / h in 4.8 seconds and covered the quarter mile in 13.5 seconds at 102.3 mph. In comparison, the 228-horsepower 228i (it also has a 2.0-liter turbo) was 1.2 seconds slower at 60 mph and a full second slower at the quarter-mile mark. The 302-horsepower Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 is a direct competitor and is expected to deliver similar performance to the M235i, but we have yet to put this to the test. The more expensive AMG CLA 45, which sits above the M235i, is 1.2 and 1.4 seconds faster in these brands.

The stickier rubber and limited slip differential of the M235i helped it pull 0.91g on the pad and straddle the MT figure-eight run in 25.8 seconds with an average of 0.71 g. The figure-eight result is a second faster and 0.06g faster than the 228i, while overall lateral acceleration improves by 0.09g. Test Director Kim Reynolds liked the M235i’s ability to stay light on its feet and the ease of spinning out of the corner. He also found moderate amounts of understeer, but noted that modulating the throttle easily fixed that and allowed you to balance the M235i to the limit.

BMW’s suspension engineers also nailed body control, and the M235i has a feeling of safety planted in the corners. However, the steering lacks feel and it’s artificially heavy in an attempt to feel sporty, a feel that only gets worse when you shift to the car’s more aggressive driving modes. The small BMW sedan took 108 feet to stop at 100 km / h, which is what we would expect from a car with its mission, although the brakes can be somewhat gripping at the top of the pedal stroke. (A few of our employees found the brake system bite to be acceptable.) It’s a very capable little car, but maybe the M235i’s main problem is that it rarely stirs the soul while burning a piece. of the canyon tarmac.

Do you prefer to navigate? Prepare to be pushed around because of the M235i’s firm ride quality. The suspension bangs and slams with every imperfection in the road, and the impacts are dutifully – and sadly – transmitted to occupants with few edges removed. We haven’t driven a 2 Series Gran Coupe without the M Sport suspension yet (that’s an option on the 228i), and we hope the standard calibration is more forgiving. Finally, the suspension shocks and the car’s bigger wheels and tires generate some racquet on the interior. “Loud. Lots of noise in the cabin,” noted editor Jonny Lieberman. Editor-in-chief Mark Rechtin also complained about excessive road noise, even on the quiet California Canyon roads near our offices.

Interior of the BMW M235i: not up to the task

Like the 228i, treat the M235i like a four-door 2 + 2 rather than a full-fledged sedan because of its size and packaging. “My head is touching the headliner, the legroom is quite compromised and the sitting position is just uncomfortable”, MotorTrend in Spanish Editor-in-chief Miguel Cortina said of the back seat. Cortina is 6ft 1m tall, but employees of all sizes have complained about the lack of space in the backseat, and it doesn’t help that the rear door openings are so small you have to twist to get in and out. .

The interior design also gives the interior of the M235i an old-fashioned look, as it has the same clean but sure styling theme that almost all BMWs that are a decade or more old. Yes, you have cool screens, an improved, easier-to-use infotainment system, and plenty of driver assistance technologies, but the layout and ergonomics of digital and physical controls can be tricky and unintuitive. In addition, the interior of the 2 Series Gran Coupé lags behind that of the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class in terms of build quality and modernity. The Mercedes flaunts its available large screens and offers full (admittedly gimmicky) light shows using ambient lighting, among other technical information.

M235i or 228i Gran Coupé?

The M235i Gran Coupé is a pint-sized highway cruiser that can devour highways and back roads at surprising rates. So, is it worth the extra money? We will say “yes”, but with a few caveats. First of all, keep in mind that you are paying a lot for the exterior styling and the extra horsepower, which comes with a tough suspension and cool, somewhat distant interior and driving experiences. And second, the value calculation must take into account other cars priced close to our M235i as tested $ 50,795. These include a Genesis G70, an Alfa Romeo Giulia, a Cadillac CT4-V or even a BMW 330i, all of which offer superior handling, are more engaging, have more space to inside and ride much better. Small and nimble are indeed great attributes, but they are rarely the whole story.

CHARACTERISTICS2020 BMW 228i xDrive Gran Coupé2020 BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupé
STARTING PRICE$ 38,495$ 46,495
PRICE TESTED$ 48,495$ 50,795
VEHICLE LAYOUT4-door front-engine sedan, all-wheel drive, 5 passengers4-door front-engine sedan, all-wheel drive, 5 passengers
ENGINE2.0L / 228hp / 258lb-ft turbo DOHC 16-valve in-line engine2.0L / 301 hp / 332 lb-ft DOHC 16-valve in-line turbo engine
TRANSMISSION8 speed automatic8 speed automatic
WEIGHT ON BOARD (F / R DIST)3,473 lbs (59/41%)3532 pounds (58/42%)
WHEELBASE105.1 in105.1 in
Length x Width x Height178.5 x 70.9 x 55.9 inches178.5 x 70.9 x 55.9 inches
0 to 60 mph6.0 seconds4.8 seconds
QUARTER MILE14.5 seconds at 95.0 mph13.5 s at 165 km / h
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH121 ft108 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION0.82g (average)0.91 g (average)
MT FIGURE EIGHT26.8 s at 0.65 g (average)25.8 s at 0.71 g (average)
TRUE MPG, CITY / HWY / COMB23/33/27 mpg23/32/26 mpg
EPA CITY / HWY / COMB FUEL ECON147/102 kWh / 100 miles147/105 kWh / 100 miles
ENERGY CONSUMPTION, CITY / ROAD0.73 lbs / mile0.74 lbs / mile

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