By on April 13, 2015

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Let the record show that ten years ago, BMW and I were definitely “in a relationship”, as Facebook would say. I was throwing a significant chunk of change every month at a 330i Sport sedan in Steel Grey with a five-speed manual. It was just the latest stage of a love story that began before I was old enough to drive but definitely picked up steam when I learned to drive in a manual transmission 733i.

Today? Well, the best that BMW and I can manage is probably an “It’s Complicated”, and if you want to know why, the car before you is a good example of nearly all the reasons.

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With leather upholstery, a navigation system, and keyless entry, this is a $50,200 automobile. It came to me courtesy of one of our partners in the April Fool’s Cannonball prank, Greg Ledet, who is a BMW aficionado and the owner of an automatic-transmission 335xi. You can read his opinion on the car at the end of this piece, and I think it’s worth reading because Greg is very much the buyer BMW is chasing now — a successful tech worker who charts his own course in life and considers automotive enthusiasm to be one of his primary defining personal characteristics. If Greg likes the car, then it will do well.

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I, on the other hand… well, I’d already driven a stick-shift M235i during PCOTY and my verdict was that “I get the distinct feeling that there’s a bit too much dignity, too much ball-bearing smoothness, to make this a true successor to the raucous 135i.” Adding all-wheel-drive and a torque converter to the M235i package does nothing to change my mind; rather, it dials the standard model’s boulevardier inclinations up to eleven.

On paper and on the road, this is a fast car, thanks to a 320-horsepower second-generation variant of the BMW three-liter turbo straight six and a curb weight in the 3500-pound range. There’s a “Launch Mode” that Greg demonstrates, a particular combination of the endless menu-based performance permutations found in the iDrive controls, and it’s capable of getting to sixty miles per hour in under five seconds. When I take the wheel, I notice with satisfaction that the Steptronic transmission can be placed into a very decent manual-shift mode. It won’t automatically upshift — I ran against the rev limiter for five long seconds to prove that to myself — and it shifts almost exactly when you request it. It’s probably the equal of the very responsive automatic in the Lexus IS350 F-Sport, and that’s saying something.

If only the engine had some character to go with its twist. After ten minutes behind the wheel of the M235xi, I was longing for my proletarian Accord V6 and its minivan motor, which delivers nearly the same power with a VTEC Earthy-Dreamy rush to the redline and a crisp manual shift at the “7” mark. The M235xi is fast but never exciting, even with the fake engine noises that mysteriously appear behind you when you’re pressing on.

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Of course, no Honda on the market, even the ones that say “Acura” on them, can deliver the legitimate this-is-something-special feeling you get when taking a seat behind the Bimmer’s chunky wheel. You could quibble with a few of the plastics but really, the one time you don’t doubt the value proposition of a fifty-grand miniature BMW coupe is when you’re just sitting in the thing. Even I, as the most brand-cynical human being in North America, can’t help feeling kind of cool in the M235xi. I love the fact that it’s easily recognizable as a BMW from the moment you open the door.

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On the move, that BMW DNA is less apparent. The controls are “dipped in treacle”, as the English autojournos say, responding with a heft and indifference that is more Lexus-like than an actual Lexus, the steering completely and utterly dead-feeling thanks to the powered front axle and the electro-magic assist, the brakes okay enough but nothing special despite the fixed-caliper street cred. There are no fewer than three “sport modes” in the iDrive but none of them feel sporting in anything but the most tacked-on fashion.

Approaching a few fast road corners in a row, the M235i gives little sense of its ultimate cornering potential. I hear rather than feel the front end lose grip, the same way you would in a C5 Corvette, only worse. Then the lights start blinking, even though they’re supposed to be off. When Greg tries a low-speed come-and-show-me power-oversteer maneuver, his command of the iDrive technicalities mean that none of the nannies show up for work — but that doesn’t stop the front axle from clutching-out and pulling the car sullenly straight. You could have a lot more fun in a raggedy old 325e. My 330i Sport was ninety horsepower down on this thing but I know which one I’d rather drive.

I want to love this BMW, but I cannot. On a daily basis, I’d rather operate my Accord, which returns nearly half again the 21.6mpg that Greg’s car shows in daily service, has better visibility, weighs three hundred pounds less, and drives like it weighs six hundred pounds less. Not to mention the twenty-grand price advantage. My old Audi S5 felt more alive to operate despite the V-8 hanging out over the front wheels and I suspect the current V-6 car is even better in that regard.

The very existence of this car is troubling, honestly. Does there need to be an automatic-transmission AWD variant of every single model in BMW’s lineup? Since when did BMW become Audi or even Mercedes-Benz? Trust me, the standard M235i stick-shift isn’t exactly a Lotus Seven in terms of the required hardcore driver commitment. We need a calmed-down version of that car like we needed Peter Cetera to go back and record all his late-era Chicago hits with more Muzak in them. (Which he did, by the way.)

The funny thing is that BMW can see the plain evidence of what customers want in used-market prices, and they can see the bulletproof residuals of the 1M and 135i Sport the same way Porsche can see 1998 Carreras selling for more at auctions than 2013 Carreras, and they’re absolutely uninterested in serving that market on a consistent basis. Sure, the M2 will eventually get here, but note that BMW put the effort into getting AWD and automatic transmissions into the Two wayyyy before they even dropped public hints about the M2.

Fifty thousand dollars is a lot of money, even in the post-QE world. If you have that much to burn or borrow, do yourself a favor and get the car that delivers M3-level power and 135i-level driver involvement. It’s called the Ford Mustang GT and you can use the ten grand you’ll have left over to get a nice winter beater. No, the Ford is not the Ultimate Driving Machine — but neither is this.

And now for Greg’s comments:

“’ve had the car for nearly a week now and I’ve put about 250 miles on it. Compared to my 2010 335xi, the 2015 M235xi is noticeably smaller and feels much better through the corners. With 320 horsepower compared to the 335’s 300, I was expecting the smaller car to be much quicker, but I was surprised to learn that the M235xi actually weighs about 300 lbs more than my 335xi (3695 lbs vs 3362 lbs). The car feels lighter and more balanced through the turns and it seems to push less than the 335, but that can probably be chalked up to the fact that my 335xi doesn’t have the M Sport Package or the adjustable suspension.

Would I buy the M235xi? Probably. I’ve actually speced one out and sent to my BMW salesman to see if there could be a deal made should we realize that the 335xi is finally done for. It is definitely on my list of cars that I want, but with a $50,000 sticker price and BMW’s notorious depreciation rate, I’ll probably wait and pick up a CPO vehicle in a couple years. Not only that, the “real” M2 is just around the corner. BMW has said that the drivetrain from the current M3/M4 will fit into the 2-Series without making any changes, so expect the M2 to be putting out around 400 horsepower while trimming 300 pound or so from the weight. If the M2 holds its value as well as the 1-Series M Coupe, I’d almost be silly to not pick one up.”

Well, there you have it! — jb

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112 Comments on “Review: 2015 BMW M235xi...”


  • avatar
    duffman13

    Given the fact that we have a baby in the house now, my S2k is probably only going to stick around another few years. This further cements my decision why it’s going to be replaced with a 2015+ Mustang GT. Hopefully I can find a nicely specced used one (V8, manual, Performance pack, Recaros) for under $25k.

    • 0 avatar
      S2k Chris

      Just buy another car. Keep the S. I’ve been around and around on this one mentally, and to me, I can’t see getting rid of the S for anything other than a 997. Otherwise it’s like throwing in the towel.

      • 0 avatar
        duffman13

        I already have a DD Mazda 3 that I enjoy. The thing is, I feel like I’d like a performance car that has a back seat so that I can take the whole family with me when my son gets into the forward-facing or booster-seat categories. To add to that, I’ve always wanted something with a V8.

        I love the S, it’s a blast to drive and the top goes down, yet it’s still almost civilized. We’ll see what happens, I’ll still probably have a hard time parting with it when I eventually do.

      • 0 avatar
        David Walton

        If you get a 997 you really need to get a GT3… :)

        • 0 avatar
          ccd1

          I’d argue for the 2009 turbo. This car has the 997.2 upgrades but still has the Metzger engine. Manual of course. Less hard edged than the GT3, but also a much better DD.

        • 0 avatar
          ccd1

          Neither of these 997s will be cheap. The performance bargain is getting a 987 and sticking an aftermarket turbo in it. GT4 performance levels for less than half the price

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I dont think used car residuals are reflective of missed new car demand. They are partially a result of the market deciding certain cars’ true values are somewhere well below their MSRPs. You can’t get a Cayman S for less than $30K these days, but if you buy a new one the value nosedives to that point with alarming alacracity. Other part of highish flat resales is the low volume of cars like 135i Sports new, again coming back to the asking price folks feel is too high, or the difficulty in justifying a $45K 135i over a much more practical, not much slower/less dynamic and much nicer 335i for slightly more money.

    Shame that BMW’s dullness has spread all the way down to the 2, which was supposed to be its last direct connection to its era of driving engagement. Still though, down the line, I wouldn’t mind picking one up used (sorry Derek) and throwing on some engagement-enhancing parts like coilovers, spherical bearings, lightened flywheel/upgraded clutch and of course an exhaust. Maybe some Michelin PSSs too. Maybe it’s time for BMW and other car companies to make “track” packages for serious enthusiasts.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      “Maybe it’s time for BMW and other car companies to make “track” packages for serious enthusiasts”

      They do. It’s called “M”. Be prepared to pay an astronomical amount of money for it.

      That said, if you want a fun BMW, buy an well-kept E46. If you want a nicer fun BMW, buy an E90. In either case, someone already paid the depreciation and they aren’t hard to keep running well with the amount of money saved versus buying new.

      • 0 avatar
        jkross22

        I’ll 2nd your E90 suggestion. My experience has been pretty good. Other than a battery cable recall and some rubber weatherstripping, no issues outside of regular maintenance and 76k on the odo.

    • 0 avatar
      Truckducken

      Rec’d for ‘alacracity’. This may be the best new word I have seen on the Internet this decade, and the fit here is splendid.

      Also, Jack, great review.

  • avatar
    319583076

    Too heavy!

    We had a loaded 135is as a loaner for a few days and I fell in love with the twin turbo I6. If BMW would bother to mate one of their drivetrains to a respectably lightened chassis, I’d be interested.

    Speaking of interest – any opinions on the Z4 coupe? It seems like a contender for a proper BMW sports coupe.

    • 0 avatar
      fvfvsix

      I owned an ’07 coupe for about a year. It was an awesome car to have in the fleet, but it absolutely sucked as a daily driver. Rearward visibility couldn’t have been one of the design criteria when they decided to stick a hardtop on that car. Between that, the low seating position, the awful stereo and crappy cupholders, it became more of a chore than a pleasure to own. Sold it and bought a MK6 GTI.

      • 0 avatar
        319583076

        I appreciate your reply. I’m DDing an MX-5 which has great rearward visibility with the top down! Otherwise, it’s guilty of the same sins.

        How did the Z4 handle? What do you think about the engine and transmission?

        • 0 avatar
          fvfvsix

          The E86 Z4 handled like the “BMW’s of old” that everybody seems to fawn over. It was extremely well behaved on smooth pavement, could carve corners with the best, and the 255HP N52 was (I think) the best incarnation of that engine. It revved more freely than the newer turbo’ed motors, sounded sublime, and felt plenty quick in the Z4. I bought the car in Cleveland and drove it back to AZ, so I can safely say that it’s probably one of the worst road trip cars (my co-driving wife pretty much refused to drive it after we got back home) because it isn’t compliant over rough pavement at all.
          One additional downside – these cars have BMW’s first generation Electric Steering racks… Steering feel isn’t great…and mine would occasionally go stiff for a split second if I turned the wheel when the car wasn’t moving. I think there was a TSB about that issue, though. All in all, the memories of that road trip were worth every penny I paid for (and lost on) that car.

          I may lose my enthusiast cred for saying this… but as I get older and softer, I can kinda appreciate that BMW is making cars a bit less “sinewy” these days.

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      “Too heavy!”

      Yes but so was the 135. In RWD guise there is not that much of a weight difference between the 1 and 2 series. The difference is in the feel of the car. The 1 series felt very raw while the 2 series is more civilized. Depending on what your preferences are, that is either a good or a bad thing.

    • 0 avatar
      bufguy

      I’ve owned a 07 Z4 coupe 3.0si with the N52 255hp engine since new….Other than an M engine it is the last of the great non turbo straight 6’s. Mine is sapphire black with red interior, M sport seats and sport package. It’s a go cart. You do sit very low, visibility is not great but you feel like its a sports car. I’ve had it to Watkins Glen and was able to gently bring the tail out a bit on the wet track but it was predictable and forgiving. The ride is pretty harsh on Buffalo streets, but a switch away from run flats improved the ride….The best thing…the car is a head turner and that 6 is like butter.

      • 0 avatar
        319583076

        Thanks for your reply. It seems like people were polarized by the styling but I think it’s a pretty good looking car.

        Dunno what to do…but it’s a good problem to have, I suppose.

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    “The very existence of this car is troubling, honestly. Does there need to be an automatic-transmission AWD variant of every single model in BMW’s lineup?”

    That’s what I thought when I saw this model. I got that the 1-Series was, basically, the new 3-Series (3->5, 5->7, 7->S-Class) but it looks like BMW really couldn’t resist chasing entry-level luxury buyers.

    But then again, they have the 320 and 428 for thing. If I’m buying a 1—sorry, 2-series—you’d think I wanted something a less like a Mercedes. What I don’t get is why: a) if they’re chasing the entry-level lease luxury buyer, that BMW doesn’t offer this with a smaller engine yet, and b) why said buyers wouldn’t just pop for the 320 or 428.

    This really does seem like an answer to a question that isn’t being asked.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Except that the AWD M235i has a waiting list at nearly every BMW dealership in the country. Which admittedly is due to production constraints, but still they are selling every one they make, pretty much for MSRP. So somebody is sure asking the question.

      That said, I sure don’t want AWD or especially an automatic in something like this. Which is why I ordered mine with RWD and a stickshift. I considered a number of cars for my next toy, from the new Mustang at the low end to the Cayman at the high end. The M235i was the best all-rounder. With a nice discount for European Delivery being the icing on the cake.

      Ultimately cars are like anything else, once you get beyond “adequate” it is seriously diminishing returns in the value department all the way up. As I have long said, if you don’t get why a BMW costs $15K more than a Camry, enjoy your Camry and spend the $15K golfing or something.

      • 0 avatar
        akatsuki

        It isn’t about the question really, I think that is wrong.

        BMW rode to success on car enthusiasts and is basically now moving into mass market. So people who feel nostalgia for the brand keep clinging on (and journalists are the worst about it, who cares about brand heritage? all that matters is product).

        Porsche is starting down this path, the intro of the Cayman GT4 meaning that the 911 is going to be more touring, etc.

        Nobody wants to be a niche brand anymore. Lotus is probably the last sports-oriented niche brand, and they are DOA. They should try and fold themselves into a sports arm of a bigger automaker like Toyota that is looking for sports cred.

  • avatar
    ZCD2.7T

    Comment for “Greg” – the only way a 2010 335xi could weigh 3362 lbs would be if you removed the wheels and tires, brakes and transmission.

    3700-3850 lbs is more like it according to BMW, depending on the transmission choice and equipment level…

    Just sayin’….

    • 0 avatar
      Greg Ledet

      I got the curb weight from Edmunds.
      http://www.edmunds.com/bmw/3-series/2010/features-specs/

      I know the gross weight is more, but I was comparing curb weights for both vehicles.

      • 0 avatar
        ZCD2.7T

        So was I.

        That number may be correct for a rear wheel drive manual-tranmission coupe, but the XDrive automatic sedan is listed at 3814 lbs.:

        http://www.motortrend.com/cars/2010/bmw/3_series/335i_xdrive_sedan/3169/specifications/exterior.html

        My point is that despite the way it may have “felt” to you, your car is actually heavier than the M235xi….

  • avatar
    Spartan

    “If only the engine had some character to go with its twist. ”

    Turbos suck the fun out of driving. After the torque rush, the power falls flat. I bought a G37 instead of a 335i for this very reason. The G37 was more fun when pushed to the rev limiter. It got a bit course, but it just felt better than the BMW. The 335i had that rush of power then nothing.

    I would never buy a 235i. I, too would buy a fully optioned Mustang GT and enjoy the N/A V8 instead of that lifeless inline 6 in the BMW.

  • avatar
    ajla

    “You could have a lot more fun in a raggedy old 325e. My 330i Sport was ninety horsepower down on this thing but I know which one I’d rather drive.”

    Controversial stuff from a TTAC writer.

  • avatar
    Fordson

    I see – your Accord weighs 300 lbs. less, and gets to 60 over a second slower, but it’s making “nearly the same power.” I would bet that on a chassis dyno, your V6 is probably down 80 hp and 110 lb/ft compared to the BMW. An X3 with this engine would make a pretty good drag race against your Accord…but it’s around a thousand pounds heavier.

    So…not close.

    And no critique of a turbocharged engine is complete without a “character” comment, I guess – both of these engines are making useful power at 7k…but with power peaks of 6k and 6.2k for the BMW and the Honda, neither one is either wheezer or a screamer. The reason your Honda seems to swing that needle from 5k-7k so fast is that it doesn’t swing it from 2k to 4k anywhere near as quickly…the BMW swings it pretty fast anywhere on the dial.

    If fact, I suspect the BMW 3.0T would make an AWESOME minivan engine…

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Accord V6 Coupe:

      http://www.vtec.net/articles/view-article?article_id=1131834&page_number=2

      260 to the wheels.

      M235i:

      http://www.2addicts.com/forums/showthread.php?t=961724

      307 to the wheels. Note that this is by far the strongest stock dyno result on the Internet; most people are seeing 285-295.

      So the BMW weighs 10% more and has between 10% and 20% more power.

      From a dig, the AWD traction is unbeatable (and contributes significantly to the faster 0-60) but I wonder how Greg would do against me in the traditional street-race 40-120 roll.

      Might have to find out.

      • 0 avatar
        Fordson

        Hmmm…the BMW’s peak hp is basically happening at the same rpm as the Honda’s, and at 6800 rpm, when both of these dynos end, the supposedly rev-happy Honda has lost about the same percentage of power relative to its peak as has the supposedly turbo-stall-limited BMW. I would not be taking either of these engines to 7k for lowest ET.

        For the last thousand rpm of these two curves, there is not a dime’s worth of difference between them, except that the BMW starts with a lot more power and ends with a lot more power. In fact, I don’t see a whole lot of difference anywhere on the curves…by 3k, the Honda is making 50% of peak power; the BMW is at 50% of peak by 2700.

        Not seeing this huge difference in character that you’re talking about. BMW spent a good buck on twin-scroll turbos for both this and the 2.0T…these are not like a 2008 MS3, sucking wind by 6k.

        40-120 you’d lose by a half-second rather than a whole second, but at 120 that’s around 6-7 car lengths – pretty toasted.

      • 0 avatar
        Greg Ledet

        Wait a minute… are you condoning street racing? Jack! How dare you!?!?!

        That being said, you know how to get in touch with me… ;)

    • 0 avatar
      cbrworm

      The BMW engine’s strength is it’s weakness. It is not fun to drive. Yes, it has over 300ft-lbs from 1,500 RPM to near redline as well as 300+ horsepower, but there is no excitement to it. It would be an awesome truck engine (Ecoboost?)

      I too cross shopped a 335i and a G35 a few years ago, the G35 still puts a smile on my face. My brother bought the 335i, and kept it for about a year before buying a G37. He has since grown up and bought a 550i and X6 xDrive50i, now that he has kids and wants a cruiser.

      The x35 (and now x40) motor is great, but it is not fun, there is no swell of power. The old N/A 3.0 six in my wifes E60 is more fun to drive, even though it is down on power.

      Those who like the power delivery of a diesel will love the turbo BMWs. Those who like the power delivery of VTEC (Yo), or an old Porsche 911, will find the x35 and x40 motors very dull – just when you expect the power to build, it falls off.

      I like BMW’s, so I am saying this half sarcastically, but the BMW Turbo engines would be a great mate to a CVT that could hold it between 1,200rpm and 3,000rpm.

      Now, the x28 motors in the small cars are fun to drive. Rev happy, low gearing and lots of gears.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    I paid $34k for my 2015 Mustang GT with the Performance Pack and Recaros and I think if I had waited 6 months I could have saved another grand or so off that price. For a bargain alternative to the BMW, I would probably skip the Recaros and be well under $32k.

    • 0 avatar
      VenomV12

      As someone who is generally not a Ford fan, I would pick the Mustang GT over the BMW every time, great looking car.

      • 0 avatar
        hgrunt

        I recently test drove a nearly no-option 2015 Ecoboost mustang and nearly fully loaded GT back to back. They felt remarkably similar to my E46 330i ZHP, which had Bilstein coilovers, in the ride and handling department.

    • 0 avatar
      InterstateNomad

      I’m wondering if you thought the Recaro seats were worth the price increase. I’ve never sat in one of those.

      • 0 avatar
        mnm4ever

        @interstate – I think it depends on what you are going to use the car for, and what you are used to. I think the standard seats are more comfortable for every day use. And you can get them heated and cooled with the premium pack. Many of my friends say the Recaros are to confining for them but I fit fine. But the Recaros are really nice, high quality too. But $1500 is a lot of money! You have to try them yourself.

  • avatar
    blueflame6

    See, this is why a thoughtfully optioned 228i is the one to get, at least until BMW sees fit to import a diesel version.

  • avatar
    Master Baiter

    I would imagine the sport seats in this car are far superior to anything you’d find in a Honda.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    This begs the question (and I ask because I really could give a flying fig about BMW): What is the cheapest BMW sold in the USA and how poseur is it?

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The 228i and 320i are priced right atop each other.

      I’d give the poseur award to the 320i: it’s nice enough, but new it’s a very bad value proposition versus a V6 Camry in just about every way excepting the badge. The 228i lacks the rather nice interior and suspension of the 320i and comes across as kind of unimpressive and mean, but at least it’s commendably quick.

      • 0 avatar
        windnsea00

        My mother drives a 2015 320i, she could have had a 328i but 0-60 in 7 seconds flat is quick enough for her. At no time do I envision her with the pedal to the floor asking for more power haha.

        She is not a car enthusiast but she cannot stand Toyota’s do to their aggressive tip-in on the throttle then dead spot beyond that.

    • 0 avatar
      319583076

      I think the X1 is the cheapest BMW available in the US. That’s a RWD 2.0L turbo four based on the old 3 series platform IIRC.

      I’ll let you decide how to feel about it.

    • 0 avatar
      darex

      In all sincerity, my answer is the F56 MINI Cooper. Although FWD, it shares all electricals, seats, equipment, software, etc. with the rest of the F-series BMWs, and needless to say, for thousands, to tens of thousands less.

      The MINI is extremely low on the “poseur” scale, too.

      Just how close the F-series MINIs are with the F-series BMWs was brought home to me last week, when I coded my MINI using BMW’s E-Sys software. Not only is it compatible, but 95% of all codes are shared.

  • avatar
    Boff

    Today’s BMW’s are faster, more fuel efficient, more comfortable, better-equipped, more spacious, and more practical than any of their forebears. But something is missing in the feel and experience categories. The cars just don’t seem as well-engineered as before (for example, bumpy corners send unpleasant clunks and vibes up the steering column on my wife’s 2012 328i). The 2015 Mustang alternative is apt, as the new car is something previous Mustangs weren’t: A Nice Car. Ford has also upped the feel quotient in the steering, handling and braking — exactly the opposite of where BMW’s have been trending — while approaching BMW-levels of refinement.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Silken, fairly long stroke I6 engines, executed to BMW levels; when working fairly hard in their upper registers; are pretty hard to beat as far as non-tiring, daily driven “feel and experience” go. That’s what largely “made” BMW, at keast in North America.

      The same qualities can still be had in the M3/4, but due to the turbos, “working them hard in the upper registers” really doesn’t happen much during day to day driving.

      No matter how much BMW manage to improve their cars’ brakes, handling, tires, engines, airbags etc., they will forever be limited by law to wallow around at the speed, some comatose fatso in a jacked up diesel pickup on under inflated tires, rather loudly proclaim is right’n safe’n ‘Murican. Given that constraint, low to mid 200 HP from an NA 2.5-3 liter I6 is probably just about ideal for a car aspiring to both the effortlessness of a luxury car, and the involvement of a sports car. Done right, erring low may give you more “involvement” (Miata), while erring high may land you on teenage boys’ bedroom walls, but as far as ultimate driving machines for daily drives go, you’re erring either way.

  • avatar
    mitchw

    Doesn’t the manual transmission also quietly do some rev matching funny stuff for you? Ceci n’est pas un three pedal.

    It’s over.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Wow, look at that interior…for 50 large. I thought maybe it was just a fuzzy pic, but C/D has lots of crystal clear photography of the same basic car.

    I just went to the Denver auto show yesterday, and saw plenty of economy car interiors that look like this one. I’d say some even looked better. For $25,000 less, they DEFINITELY looked better.

    Geez.

  • avatar
    focal

    when 95% of the cars are sold AWD and automatic in Canada, the manual will be gone. I think BMW is just forcing the market to accept it so they can launch the next generation 2/3 series as AT/AWD only. Citing sales numbers as the reason.

    At this point, the only cars left are RWD 228, 328, 335 and AWD 335i. with environment regulations, the next generation will be hybrid and auto/AWD only.

    BMW doesn’t realize that loyalty stops the second the manual and “fun cars” stopped being produced. if I’m forced to drive an appliance from all brands, I would be just as happy in a Lexus, MB or Jag.

  • avatar
    John R

    This post lends credence to something I suspected for a long time.

    If Honda could actually grow a pair and manufacture Acura badged RWD coupes and sedans (in addition to or instead of the current Super-Saiyan Accords they make now) it would send meaningful shot just off the bow from cars like these.

    Oh well.

    • 0 avatar
      319583076

      Except BMW isn’t selling lots of 2-series. They’re selling lots of 3-series. Acura doesn’t want to fire a shot across the bow because they want to convert 3-series buyers – who are plentiful, rather than bother with the vanishingly small minority of new car buyers/lesees who are interested in driving a performance car.

      If there’s one TTAC position I will generally agree with it’s that none of the automakers can afford to make the machines we (the enthusiasts) want to drive.

      EDIT – there are cars that cater to our needs, but most of us can’t afford them.

      • 0 avatar
        John R

        Size isn’t what I’m on about – drivetrain is.

        I wouldn’t expect Honda to produce 2-series sized car. A 3-series/G37 sized car I would and I am sure the current non-M 3-series is as sedate as this 2-series.

    • 0 avatar
      cbrworm

      I believe this is true. I also believe that Infiniti had the recipe for a while and has lost it with the last generation of cars – evidenced by the fact that the old G37, renamed the Q40, which is a car that has been on the market, essentially unchanged for about 8 years is still a top seller for Infiniti.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        The Q40 isn’t selling because enthusiasts are buying it — they discontinued the enthusiast configurations. It’s selling because you can get a super-cheap lease on a car with a “luxury” badge, leather, and nav.

  • avatar
    carguy

    Some comments from an M235i owner:

    The car is definitely tuned for daily usage and not track work. It is also not an M car and not designed for the Fast and Furious demographic in mind. What it is, is supremely capable, yet comfortable, fast and efficient daily driver.

    The interior:
    Yes some bits could be better but the ergonomics are excellent and the sport seats are fantastic for long trips and offer great lateral support (as long as you’re not too large).

    The engine:
    Much improved over my previous 335. Unlike the N54 which ran out of breath around 5K rpm, this massaged N55 is way more linear in its power delivery and continues to pull all the way to 7K.

    The suspension:
    More compliant than my previous 335 sport – and that is a good thing. While the 335 was jittery over uneven surfaces and could be unsettled in corners by the smallest bumps, the M235 feels much more stable in those conditions. If you want it rock hard you can always firm it up – its adjustable.

    Depreciation:
    Unknown for the M235 at this point but any $50K car will cost you in depreciation. However, I would question if a $40K GT Mustang will cost you any less in depreciation. Once the Mustang’s new model gloss has worn off and the new Camaro has launched, expect deep discounts that will be painful for any existing Mustang owner.

    • 0 avatar
      talkstoanimals

      I made something of the opposite switch from you, going from an ’11 135i M Sport (with the 320 hp “Sport” tune added later) to a ’14 435i M Sport. But I would say my experience has been pretty similar to yours in most respects. I’d just add that, for some mysterious reason, the 4 series’ steering feel seemed to improve as the tires passed 5k miles of wear-in. Not sure why that would happen.

      I really, really like the F-series in real-world, daily-driver conditions. I miss some of the somewhat rawer feel of the E-series from time-to-time. But on the whole, I enjoy the new car immensely in both casual and sporting driving situations. Of course, it probably helps that I have an S2000 waiting in the garage for when I really feel like carving up a twisty road…

      • 0 avatar
        carguy

        +1 I still have my manual Cayman S if I want the undiluted driving experience. However, for the yearly 15K miles of commuting that I do, the automatic M235 is near perfect.

        • 0 avatar
          S2k Chris

          “However, for the yearly 15K miles of commuting that I do, the automatic M235 is near perfect.”

          See, my problem with this car is that I can’t abide by (nor, granted, afford) a $50k M car as a commuter. To me, the only reason to have an M car (even a pseduo-fake one like an M235i) is to have something that works as both a DD and a toy. If I were going to buy an M235i, it would have to take the place of both my commuter and my fun car, and to hear it’s just a really nice commuter doesn’t really do it for me, and doesn’t really do what this car needs to IMO.

          • 0 avatar
            carguy

            @S2K Chris: The M235 does the twisties just fine and it also allows for plenty fun on my commute. However, the choices that Porsche makes to make their sports cars exciting just don’t work well in urban traffic. Rough roads, stop start traffic makes the Cayman tiresome in these situations. The M235 fits the bill. In eco-pro mode its comfortable and will get 23 MPGs in urban traffic and when the roads are open and twisty it sharpens up with the push of a button it becomes faster than an E46 M3. As the previous owner of an E30, E36, E46 and E92 3 series, I can assure you that the F22 is my favorite yet.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      I am probably not the most unbiased Mustang owner, since I bought my 2015 Mustang the very month it was introduced, it was the second GT the dealer had, and the first had been sold to the service manager. As I said, I paid about a grand extra by not negotiating as well as I should have (or could have) if I had waited. But I am not convinced the future depreciation is going to hit me as bad as some think. The “deep discounts” on Mustangs are not as big as you think, since the X-plan pricing and discounts commonly available are almost always there. A leftover 2014 equipped identically to my 2015 was only about $1500 less when I got mine. And used Mustangs are funny, especially for the GT. The clapped out high mileage ones are cheap, no doubt. But the nice low-mileage ones are typically pretty pricey. And people are afraid to buy used European cars outside of warranty, which is why the resale drops so low. Not a problem with Mustangs.

      • 0 avatar
        windnsea00

        @carguy

        You have it right, as a current owner of a 997 Carrera S 6-spd, it wears me down in LA traffic. Now on a Saturday it is amazing and I enjoy every moment of it.

        Truly there is only a 2 car solution for enthusiasts like us, I am going to compromise with a new M3 this summer but eventually I want a P-car back in the garage as the weekend car.

        My buddy has the right idea, he has a E39 wagon for DD duties and a Cayman GTS en route from the factory, terrific stable mates.

  • avatar
    PennSt8

    I’m not one to analyze the who/what/why is driving decisions in Munich. However, it would be nice if someone woke up and started paying attention to the fact that their cars are caricatures of what they once were.

    Fix the steering in these cars for crying out loud. And quit putting seats in cars that have as much side bolstering as a folding chair.

    The above mentioned complaints aside, BMW still does a lot right. Option the car correctly, and the seats are amazing, the F3*/F15 chassis are the best in their respective segments. The N20 and N55 are still the cream of the crop.

  • avatar
    stingray65

    1977 – BMW 320i launched – reviews say it is over-priced and gotten soft compared to the beloved 2002 – BMW sells a ton of them.
    1984 – BMW 318i (e30) launched – reviews say it is way over-priced and too conservative compared to Saab Turbos, Merkur XR4, Audi Quattro, Citation X11. – BMW sells a 2 tons of them, and of course now the e30 is a beloved classic.
    1992 – BMW 318i/325i (e36)launched – reviews say it is over-priced and gotten larger and softer than the e30. BMW sells 3 tons of them.

    I think you can see where this is going. BMW is laughing all the way to the bank as each generation gets more luxurious and less sporty (although somehow still faster than the previous generation).

    • 0 avatar
      mkirk

      Well they did go smaller, lighter, and simplier with te 318ti, but sales of that only suppor tyour arguement. I like them though.

    • 0 avatar
      hgrunt

      1998, when the e46 came out, it was called fat and soft vs the e36…in a recent review of the E46 M3, the reviewer called it “analog” but when it came out, it was considered “complicated”

      Thank you for pointing this out! I’ve told many people that These complaints have always existed for every generation.

  • avatar
    cpthaddock

    Without the slightest trace of schadenfreude, you’ve encapsulated a number of aspects that have conspired to keep me and BMW apart.

    The last time I recall feeling genuinely and unreservedly enthused about driving a BMW irresponsibly on public highways, it was when the 135 arrived.

    I felt a jolt of recollection and vindication in reading “If only the engine had some character to go with its twist.” as my own feeling was that the refinement of this engine was like that of white sugar, all of the character having been removed.

    I’m happy for everyone who owns and loves these modern German marvels, but they’re not for me these days. That thrill you describe from the interior is marred for me by persistent and repeated examples of Teutonic bloody mindedness which the $50k price tag mean are unacceptable by my standards.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    While I really like the looks of the current 4 and 6-Series coupes, this 2 doesn’t do anything for me. The rear is very truncated, and not at all elegant. The little blobby tail lamps don’t work either.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    “With leather upholstery, a navigation system, and keyless entry, this is a $50,200 automobile.”

    With leather upholstery, a navigation system, and keyless entry, my Hyundai Sonata is a $20,500 automobile.

    I will give you that it isn’t quite as quick in a straight line… but from the sound of things it might be just as fun in the twisties!

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      LOL, it does depend if you care which wheels are driven or not.

      But yes it is hard for near-luxury and luxury automakers to say “WHOOOOOOOA look at our features!” when those same features can be had for less money on more plebeian makes.

    • 0 avatar
      darex

      Hyundai electronics, and whatnot are definitely up-to-snuff, but where they still suck is in their unsophisticated handling (especially in the rear) and poor steering feel. Until they successfully address these two areas, they won’t be true contenders.

      • 0 avatar
        PeriSoft

        “Hyundai electronics, and whatnot are definitely up-to-snuff, but where they still suck is in their unsophisticated handling (especially in the rear) and poor steering feel.”

        Oh, yeah, I’ll give you that. My post was largely in jest. The Sonata can’t even come close to matching my old 9-5 in driving feel, and the 9-5 wasn’t any BMW. But the extra three or four hundred bucks a month padding my wallet goes some way toward assuaging the disappointment.

        Interestingly, it’s not steering feel that bugs me the most about the Sonata, driving-wise, even though it’s what most people single out as obnoxious. The steering feel isn’t stellar, but it’s there enough for me to dance the car around if I want. The problem is that *I don’t want*. The car doesn’t act like the Prius, as if it’s doing you some kind of grudging favor by moving at all, but it doesn’t *want you to drive it fast*. It doesn’t do anything badly in particular, but it’s so happy to be piloted rather than driven that you just never end up testing the limits anyway.

        That probably means that the designers did a good job. But it does leave an opening for other manufacturers when my wallet gets to the point where the extra $300 a month is worth little enough to justify its being spent to buy a car that is a bit less travelling companion and a bit more partner-in-crime.

    • 0 avatar
      michal1980

      Did you have to lie?

      I just built a sonata on hyundai’s website,

      leather and navigation gets into a limited with tech package, 30,500 msrp.

      and thats with a 2.4L 184hp engine.

      33525 if you want the 2.0t

  • avatar
    Davekaybsc

    That same $50K will buy you a nicely equipped Audi S3. Which is the better car?

    • 0 avatar
      carguy

      It depends on what you’re after. The non-xDrive BMW feels very RWD, can be had with a manual, loves to go sideways under throttle and is a two door only. The S3 has a very neutral chassis, is AWD and automatic only and only comes with 4 doors.

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      Exactly the point I’ve been debating on paper, because the local VW and BMW dealers have exactly neither of them to test drive. The M235i seems to be available only as an exercise in blind faith by ordering and waiting 3 or 4 months to get it. The S3 may eventually be available at the new $7.3 million Audi dealership of which I had a complete tour on Saturday.

      However, C/D on the Golf R, and certain murmurings elsewhere on the S3, seem to unanimously say the big turbo S3 is a laggy engine compared to the regular A3 and of course GTI, when it comes to instant midrange grunt. That’s the DSG version.

      As I’ve said many times, I’d have had an Accord V6 Coupe almost two years ago if it wasn’t one-wheel drive with no available LSD. Just not good enough for the last two winters we’ve experienced. Too bad, that V6 is such a lovely engine with the 6MT and no VCM (cylinder cutout to V3 on the automatics at cruise).

      • 0 avatar
        carguy

        @wmba: The S3 needs more boost to get the same amount of power from 2 liter engine than the BMW does from 3 liters so there is a little more lag but its not a deal breaker (and yes, I did get to test drive one).

  • avatar
    dal20402

    I’d rather have a discounted, end-of-run B8 S4. Same “executive express” strengths, but with a real back seat and a nicer interior. Unfortunately it’s impossible to find one equipped the way I’d want it (no options except for sport differential and dynamic suspension).

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      Yup, asked about that one too this past Saturday. They’re expecting four in during the next two weeks, two manual, two DSG. All have same options, Technik with Sport diff and adaptive suspension. here in Canada, they’re offering just $2K off, so it’s 60 grand for the manual including shipping.

      Was expecting a better deal, frankly.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Those must be Prestiges. There are lots of those around at $56k-$58k US. Unfortunately all the Premium Pluses at $47k are strippers without the sport diff and suspension.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    BMW has lost its way for sure. I hear you. I saw a 435i “Gran Coupe” the other day. The word “Gran” is highly appropriate, as it looked like a mid-1990s Lincoln Continental Mark VIII it was so freakin’ huge.

    Compare the dimensions of this land barge to an E36 BMW 328is coupe, the last 3-series before the, uh, Americanization began:

    Length: 182.6″ v. 174.5″

    Wheelbase: 111.0″ v. 106.3″

    Width: 71.9″ v. 67.3″

    Height: 54.6″ v. 53.8″

    Weight: 3,885 v. 3,140

    Bigger in every way, particularly the amount of pork those engines must lug around. It’s barely lighter than the 1991 840. Supersize me!!!

  • avatar
    Vojta Dobeš

    This reads very much like my own opinions about F30 335i I tested about a year or two back.

    You can distill this whole review into one sentence:

    BMW made a pretty good Audi.

    P.S.:
    Haven’t driven the S5 with a V8, but the V6 supercharged one (except for this thirstiness) is pretty good and it truly is much more “alive” than the current 3-series.

  • avatar
    whynotaztec

    “a successful tech worker who charts his own course in life and considers automotive enthusiasm to be one of his primary defining personal characteristics. ”

    read this and barfed

  • avatar
    baconator

    Jack, extra points for the Peter Cetera reference. We test drove an M235i as a replacement for the wife’s clown shoe M Coupe and I felt pretty much the same way. Of all the cars we drove in the “small and sporty” category, only the Fiesta ST had me impulsively reaching for my checkbook.

    Wife thought the GTI was 90% of the car at 50% of the price, but ultimately didn’t think even the GTI was good enough value compared to just enduring more depreciation on the M Coupe. That car continues to be reliable and fun with 90k miles and 16 years of “experience.” Maybe we’ll restore it when it gets to be 25.

  • avatar
    akatsuki

    Agreed with the Mustang as a better choice, although I like the small size of this.

    Used Cayman S can come in at this price easily, and you won’t find a better drivers car, period.

  • avatar
    Williesm

    I just ordered my M235ix and cannot wait for its arrival. But I do have to admit, my circumstances are very unique That made the M235ix not only the best choice but practically only option. First off I live in the Northeast and winter has its brutal moments and weekend ski trips require an Awd. That said, I don’t have a garage and space only available for ONE car. Name a sports car that’s AWD and can be shared with the wife… making it automatic and a comfortable alternative. Rules out the STI. I am very glad bmw thought of my situation and made a car for me

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      I have so many problems with this already.

      “I don’t have a garage and space only available for ONE car.”
      So you’d rather spend on a new BMW than live where you have a garage or more parking. Enjoy parking your brand new shiny BMW outside, see how long it lasts without damage like being keyed or backed into.

      “Name a sports car that’s AWD and can be shared with the wife… making it automatic and a comfortable alternative.”
      Any Audi. One or two Subarus. Many Benzes. Some Lexus options. Infiniti options.

      “I am very glad bmw thought of my situation and made a car for me”
      They didn’t.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        ““I don’t have a garage and space only available for ONE car.”
        So you’d rather spend on a new BMW than live where you have a garage or more parking. Enjoy parking your brand new shiny BMW outside, see how long it lasts without damage like being keyed or backed into.”

        This is a pretty juvenile and unsophisticated response. There are many parts of this country, including parts of the north east, where a garaged parking spot will run you multiples of a new BMW. “Just move” is a silly response that lacks nuance and understanding of the poster’s position. And the assumption that it will be vandalized is just as presumptuous and silly.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          He will find out. It’s what would happen here (Midwest). Even parking a used car on the street is a bad idea generally, even in a small town. You’ll get sideswiped or backed into.

          • 0 avatar
            S2k Chris

            Where did you get street parking from? You know there are plenty of options between “garage” and “parked on a busy street where it will get hit” right?

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I no longer care.

            But I made an assumption. Crowded NE city with no garage and one space for car.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            Corey, we’ve parked our cars outside and/or on the street for six straight years at our current house. No damage. No vandalism. No accidents. My VW’s paint looks none worse for the wear.

            I like my house. I like the neighborhood. Why would anyone change that to park their depreciating asset indoors?

            I have a relative who obsesses over the cleanliness and outward appearance of her damned Volvo. Completely freaked out over an easily repairable parking lot door ding. It isn’t a nice personality trait to have :)

        • 0 avatar
          Dave M.

          Agreed. How about “Congrats on the new ride! Did you consider the blah blah or blah blah?”.

          I advise dozens of people every year on new car purchases. I always help them arrive at 2-3 choices to fit their needs. Sometimes they come back and say “Well I bought yadda!”. Sometimes it was totally off the radar because of reliability, ergonomics, etc. Regardless, I congratulate them on their new car. There’s nothing like the feeling of a new car, and I’m not the one to spoil that.

    • 0 avatar
      Brumus

      Williesm, weekend ski trips do not require AWD.

      They do, however, require proper winter tires (not no-seasons).

      I’ve driven through some horrid conditions in the Northeast Kingdom with FWD and good winter rubber.

  • avatar
    Svoboda123

    I drive a 2007 E90 335is MT and the mechanical problems are starting to mount so it is time for a new ride. Current car’s handling is nearly faultless and the 2 is maybe even a touch better but after 6 years with the only sedan I’ve ever owned (S4 Avant, etc. previous cars), I cannot abide the impracticality. I did find the interior of the 2 cramped feeling, as with the 135. Like the evolutionary styling of this car. Power is awesome, as with mine. But I need to drive to soccer practice and back from Home Depot so anything without a hatch is sadly out.

    The X1 is downright ugly with a cheap-looking interior, the 328 wagon overpriced. Avant dead. Passat wagon dead. Picking up a 2015 GTI shortly. Not really the image I want to project (I am over 50), but there are so few alternatives left if you carry big stuff occasionally (really don’t understand how this is not almost everyone) and want a quick, sporting ride this side of $50k.

    And I have to second that the need for X-drive in snow is a myth- you need good snow tires and to know HOW TO DRIVE.

    • 0 avatar
      wmba

      “And I have to second that the need for X-drive in snow is a myth- you need good snow tires and to know HOW TO DRIVE.”

      The standard Internet meme of the self-proclaimed driving hero. And it’s bullcrap if you live where there really is snow and ice. Like Nova Scotia where I reside. Still have 15 inches of ice-snow in my driveway despite several weeks of nice weather to melt it. My well-insulated house still has snow on the roof.

      AWD and snow tires, that’ll get you through while the dolts in Civics and Corollas creep along.

      You can be the hero while I embrace reality. AWD since 1988 and proud of it.

  • avatar
    calgarytek

    What about a Lexus IS300 with a turbo upgrade to that 2JZGE motor it came with? You can always take the AC/sunroof out and save…50-75 lbs?

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