BMW M235i Review

Hot little number from BMW is a surprisingly practical daily driver

By Shahzad Sheikh

BMW M235i review - video, text and images

A few years ago I was fortunate enough to test the BMW 1-series M in London (read that review here) and I absolutely loved it because it reminded me of my old E30 325i. Some say the M235i is a sort of successor to that short-lived ‘1M’. Thanks to BMW Middle East and the BMW UK press office, I got an opportunity to try out this blue example whilst on holiday here in London.

Watch the BMW M235i Review Video by clicking below

Things get off to a great start as this is a fantastic looking car in person, not quite as chunky and menacing as the 1M but handsome and the proportions work better than they have on any previous 1 or 2-Series. I also love the fact that this is just about the same length and height as my old E30 – although it’s about 10cm wider. That’s a good footprint, particularly in a place like London where compact cars rule. With a weight of 1530kg (okay so that’s at least a couple hundred kilos heavier than an E30) it seems generously endowed with a decent power-to-weight ratio packing 326bhp and 332lb ft of torque from its very familiar 3.0 straight-six. Here it gives you a 0-100kph time of 5.0 seconds and of course a limited top speed of 250kph. The power, as ever, is sent to the rear wheels, through a ZF auto.

BMW M235i review - video, text and images

Surprisingly practical

Inside it’s comfortable, solid and smart as you’d expect, the infotainment is better than ever, there’s a great stereo and not only is it spacious in the front with an excellent seating position but the two rear seats are actually surprisingly usable. We used the car as a family of four and were mostly very comfortable cruising around in it. The stiff ride could be jarring occasionally on the UK’s bumpy roads, but on motorways its fine, and of course serves up flat cornering. Talking of cornering in regular mode it errs on the side of safe and sensible with a hint of understeer. In fact, overall driving the BMW M325i is a somewhat muted experience and rather unusual for a sporty BMW… that is until you hit the button that selects Sport and Sport Plus.

BMW M235i review - video, text and images

Stick it in Sports mode for M-flavour

Suddenly the car transforms and starts to feel like a hard-charging BMW. Everything tightens up, sharpens up and speeds up. All of a sudden you start to feel some of that M DNA. It begins to eagerly charge into corners, exploiting the tenacious grip, but keeps things neutral rather than oversteery. The throttle becomes hyper-sensitive, the steering mans up and the transmission turns up the aggression. It’s agile and darty around town, but ultimately more satisfying out of it when you can ease off the reigns and let it have its head.

BMW M235i review - video, text and images

Verdict

It’s a fantastic car, although not quite attaining the unique and utterly engaging greatness of the 1M. The other problem with it is the price. In the video above I mistakenly say its AED250,000, but even at AED229,000 for a small coupe, it’s not exactly cheap. For our market it would be tempting to spend a little more and go for the more Middle East-sized 435i coupe. However if you’re looking for a modern day equivalent of the fabled E30 3-series in the contemporary BMW line-up, look no further. This is your only choice.

BMW M235i – The Specs

Price: AED229,000 ($62k)
Engine: 3.0-litre 6-cyl, 326bhp @ 5800rpm, 332lb ft @ 3500-5000rpm
Performance: 0-100kph 5.0secs, 250kph, 8.1L/100km
Transmission: 6-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
Weight: 1530kg

 

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