BMW introduced a new model line with the 2 Series. These cars are a bit larger than the recently departed 1 Series cars and a little smaller than the storied 3 Series models. The 2 Series cars sport 2 doors while the 3 Series cars all have 4 doors. If you have watched the growth of the 3 Series cars from their inception following the departure of the 2002 line, you know that they have gotten bigger, heavier, more luxurious and, naturally, more expensive. In fact, the current 3 Series cars are bigger than the 5 and 6 Series cars of a couple decades ago. These new 2 Series cars - serving as a replacement for the 1 Series - follows the "BMWs get bigger over time" thinking and while many have bemoaned the way the 3 Series cars have gotten corpulent, the new 2 Series cars seem to this reviewer to have hit the elusive sweet spot.
Offered in two configurations - the 228i Coupe with prices starting in the low $31,000 range and the M235i Coupe with prices starting at a tick over $43,000. The differences between them explain the significant price bump. The 228i has a 240hp motor while the M235i boasts 320hp plus other substantial M suspension and go fast goodies. Of course, when we decided to sample the 2 Series line, we opted for the more powerful model. We're betting you would too.
Outside the Car - The front end of our 2 Series car had a fresh, aggressive face while still showing remnants of the old 1 Series cars out back. Despite that description, it's better integrated than it sounds. In fact, it has the long hood, short rear deck look that makes the Z4 convertibles so sexy. Our test driver was semi-invisible in its blue paint - a better choice for avoiding the attention of law enforcement than the "arrest me red" paint shown on the BMW-USA web site. Adding to the air of menace our press car had, it came shod with Double Spoke Ferric Gray light alloy wheels, 18 x 7.5 front, 18 x 8.0 rear; and 225/40 front, 245/35 rear Michelin Pilot Super Sport performance tires. While these are fantastic on the track and the exit ramp grand prix, as soon as the weather gets cold, you better be swapping them for all season tires if you expect to drive safely in the North east.
Inside the Car - BMW's M sport buckets are quite possibly the best seats in the business and the pair in the M235i are no different. Supportive, comfortable and beautiful - without being confining. An amazing feat that BMW seems to be able to pull off with every new M car. In fact, if you are in the market for any BMW, make sure you test sit the M seats since they are an option in almost every car they make - even the Sports Activity Vehicles. Speaking of seats, in the back, the knee and hip room is pretty tight if the driver and passenger are six footers (or taller). Good for kids, not good for NBA starters or NFL linebackers.
Everywhere you look and touch, the typical BMW quality is apparent. High quality leather, plastic and metal across the board. We call that good value considering the price of admission.
Behind the Wheel - A couple of years ago, we drove a 1 Series M on the street and the race track and pronounced it an amazing bit of fun. Fast, nimble and involving. The new 2 Series M picks up where the now rare and collectible 1 Series M left off. Acceleration from the 320HP, 6 cylinder twin turbo will get your attention. No, it's not Ferrari 599 GTO attention getting and neither is it Porsche GT3 RS attention getting either. However, those cars are incredibly expensive while the M235i is just a little pricy.
Handling is direct, predictable and race car sharp. However, it manages that feat without the teeth jarring suspension you get with a lot of boy racer cars. And then there are the brakes. The old saw that it stops on a dime and gives 8 cents change needs to be re-written for this BMW. You get back nearly all of your money, the brakes are that good, that predictable and that linear. If all brakes were this fantastic, the world would be a safer place.
Conclusion - The M235i isn't for everyone. It's small on the inside - more of a 2+2 coupe than a 4 passenger vehicle. It isn't inexpensive either - with a starting price that's over $12,000 more than the base 2 Series car (which isn't a bad vehicle, let me tell you) you have to want the added performance the M line gives you. Having said that, this is one heck of a fun car. Quick, safe, comfortable and exciting... If you don't believe me, go schedule a test drive - you'll thank me later.