The BMW M235i brings a special edition to the 2-Series line.
BMW’s line of performance vehicles proudly sports the “M” badge, models that effectively underscore the brand’s “ultimate driving machine,” motto. They’re usually based on BMW’s standard models and come with powerful engines, enhanced suspension systems, and various trim enhancements. We recently drove a 2020 BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupe, which is a long name for a performance 2 Series.
You’ll find the BMW M235i in one trim and priced from $45,500, plus a $995 destination charge. There’s also a 228i model that costs $8,000 less. It has the same body style, but you lose about one-quarter of the power as well as a few engineering and design details.
This model is the first BMW car sold in the U.S. with a front-wheel-drive platform. However, its xDrive denotation means that all-wheel-drive activates under certain driving situations.
BMW M235i Styling
There is a familiar look to the M235i, but it is more complex than that. The standard 2 Series is truly a coupe with its two doors, while this one has four doors and is labeled a “Gran Coupe,” not a sedan. Its rising beltline and cascading roofline give it a coupe-like look, but it seems more like a sedan.
We’d prefer a hatchback instead of a trunk, but the look works nevertheless. Upfront, the ubiquitous twin-kidney grille is larger than ever. Tiered character lines, body skirting, and handsome alloy wheels dress the sides.
Inside, the cabin offers room for five, but this vehicle is ideal for two or four in a pinch. Access and egress are average for the first row, but very tight in the second row. You may need to bow your head to avoid banging the doorframe.
The interior space is compact with just enough headroom in the back seat for anyone under 6-feet tall. The cabin features a wide range of materials from hard plastics to soft-touch surfaces to leather seats dressed in exquisite Magma Red Dakota.
One of our favorite features is the ambient lighting, which supplies a snake-like design on the door interiors when activated. Otherwise, the cabin offers a minimalist vibe as the emphasis is on the drive over the amenities.
Safety & Technology
As a driver’s car, the BMW could offer a simple package and leave it at that. Happily, you’ll find much more including satellite radio, Apple CarPlay, an 8.8-inch touch-screen display, and connected services.
On the safety front, BMW includes automatic headlamps, lane-departure warning, and forward-collision warning.
A four-cylinder engine displacing 2.0 liters is the common motivator of many small BMW models. Its lightweight design makes it the ideal choice for these vehicles. What sets this one apart from the rest is its beefier turbos with an output of 301 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque.
These numbers rival the best V6 engines and outperform any other BMW four-cylinder to date. What this means is that the M235i has a 0-60 mph time of about 4.6 seconds. Power is routed to the wheels via an 8-speed automatic transmission.
That power, though, travels to the front wheels under most conditions and to all four wheels with spirited driving, such as when tackling twisty roads and cornering. As much as 50 percent of the power shuttles to the rear wheels, which reduces torque steer and keeps this four-door under control. That said, we noticed there is some body roll present when traveling on twisty roads.
Even so, we found the M235i offers excellent step-off performance, ample passing power, and weighted handling. Big brakes bring this fancy “coupe” to a sure stop. Only the most discriminating driver will notice the performance differences. For everyone else, the M235i is a fun daily driver.
We enjoyed our time with the M235i, although we did notice the difference in the way this vehicle handles compared to traditional rear-wheel-drive BMWs. We won’t quibble over the coupe name for a four-door that’s unique all around.
Lastly, there is a true two-door BMW M2 Competition Coupe to consider. That one comes with a 3.0-liter TwinPower turbocharged inline-six-cylinder engine with an output of 405 horsepower sent to the rear wheels.
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