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BMW M235i review - not an M2, but still entertaining
The M235i Coupe is one of the high points of the entire BMW range. It isn’t billed as a full M-car – instead, it’s part of BMW’s new M Performance range, which is intended to be a gateway between the high-performance cars and the standard models.
Nonetheless, the M235i is a compelling mix of dynamic ability, performance and affordability, with the styling to go with it. The chassis is agile and well balanced, with all the rear-wheel drive adjustability that you’d expect of a performance BMW. The turbocharged in-line six-cylinder engine is strong and responsive, while both gearbox options – six-speed manual and eight-speed torque converter auto – work effectively and suit the car well
By the time a few boxes have been ticked on the options list the price of an M235i creeps up to £40,000, which puts it in direct competition with the brilliant Porsche Cayman. The BMW might lack that car’s outright dynamic brilliance, but it does offer the extra practicality of rear seats.
The Convertible version may hold a certain appeal, but with much more weight to shift and a more flexible body shell it’s also significantly less enjoyable to drive on the limit.
The most enthusiastic drivers should consider specifying the optional limited-slip differential. It may add around £1500, but the gain in traction and adjustability under power make it worth the money.
The automatic gearbox (£1685) works cleanly and quickly, but we’d save a chunk of cash and stick with the manual, which is just more satisfying in a sporting car like the M235i.
‘The M235i is a very sweetly balanced car with none of the traction issues that hamper the more powerful M3 and M4. Like many modern BMWs it does lack a degree of body control over an undulating road, but that’s really the only criticism we could make of the chassis.
‘There is untapped potential in this car – the M2 is even quicker and sharper to drive – but the M235i is a very appealing car and offers good value for money, too.’ Dan Prosser, road test editor.
Engine and gearbox > Both coupe and convertible models use a 321bhp turbocharged straight-six. Six-speed manual and eight-speed automatic gearboxes are available, with peak power developed at 5800rpm. Read all about the BMW M235i engine and gearbox here
Ride and handling > Take a considered approach into a corner, learn where the grip levels are and you’ll discover a beautifully balanced car. Read all about the BMW M235i ride and handling here
MPG and running costs > Despite the level of performance on offer, the M235i shouldn’t break the bank – BMW claims a combined fuel economy of 34.9mpg. Read all about the BMW M235i mpg and running costs here
Prices, specs and rivals > M235i prices start at £34,535, which puts it up against rivals such as the Mercedes-AMG A45 and Audi RS3. Read all about the BMW M235i specs and rivals here
Interior and tech > Good build quality and class-leading ergonomics are highlights of the M235i’s cabin. BMW’s iDrive infotainment system is probably the most intuitive system on the market right now. Read all about the BMW M235i interior and tech here
Design > The neat M235i looks the part with aggressive styling differentiating it from regular siblings. Carbonfiber trim highlights its sporting inclinations further still. Read all about the BMW M235i design here
Video review > Watch our BMW M235i video review here