The BMW 2 Series is, in effect, the new name for the 1 Series Coupe. It's a rear-wheel-drive, two-door coupe, which focuses more on the sporty side of driving than the 1 Series hatchback it's based on.
BMW is launching the 2 Series with three engines: the diesel 220d (£25,865) and a pair of petrols, the 220i (£25,040) and the range-topping M235i (£34,250) that we're testing here.
Two more models, the 218d and the 225d, will join the line-up in spring 2014; the 218d will become the new entry model in the range, starting at £24,265.
What's the 2014 BMW M235i like to drive?
The first thing you'll notice about the M235i is just how civilised it is at low speeds. Sure, there's a firm feeling to the chassis set-up (that's the M Sport suspension for you) but there's still compliancy there.
The trend continues at motorway speeds; the M235i stays composed over expansion joints and rippled concrete - to the point, in fact, where you could be forgiven for wondering if it's not a bit too civilised to deliver on its performance-focused brief.
As it turns out, there's no need to worry there, either. Around the short test track at BMW's launch venue, the M235i showed admirable ability. It'll understeer if you simply hurl it at a corner, but show a bit more consideration and it turns in nicely. It's comfortable with sudden changes of direction and holds on impressively in longer corners.
The most focused driving mode (Sport+) allows a degree of slip at the rear end, too; this is a car you can really enjoy throwing around. There's the option of a limited-slip differential, too, although we haven't had the opportunity to try this.
The steering is pleasingly direct and, thankfully, BMW seems to have lightened it compared with other M division models, so you don't need to be Schwarzenegger to enjoy your favourite B-road.
Our test car was fitted with the optional automatic transmission; the rapid changes and pleasing rasps on shifts mean you can still have fun using the paddles behind the steering wheel.
Push the motor hard, meanwhile, and it sounds terrific, with a distinctive six-cylinder note that gets better as you push it to and beyond 5000rpm. The M235i is seriously quick, too, with 0-62mph taking just 4.8 seconds (5.0 seconds if you stick with the standard manual gearbox).
Refinement is acceptable rather than brilliant (this is the performance variant, after all) although it's a little worrying that wind noise from the A-pillars and door seals was as noticeable as the engine's volume when cruising.
What's the 2014 BMW M235i like inside?
The front cabin of the 2 Series is very similar to that of the 1 Series, which means that the driving position isn't perfect because of the slightly off-set pedals. Over-the-shoulder visibility is pretty poor, too.
The M235i's sports seats are excellent, though, with thick bolsters that provide good support when you're throwing the car around through corners.
The fascia is neatly laid out and the main infotainment functions are easy to use, thanks to BMW's iDrive controller. The dash feels well screwed together, but the textures on the plastics – particularly those on the top of the dashboard – look strangely old-fashioned.
Access to the rear seats is still tricky, and once you're there, you'll be hoping for a short journey if you're anything more than six feet tall. Head- and legroom are the main issues, although there is a little more legroom than there was in the old 1 Series Coupe. The space is acceptable for (very) occasional use.
The boot space increases also increases over the 1 Series Coupe to 390 litres. That's a decent tally, although the aperture is a little narrow and it's still some way short of potential rivals, such as the Audi A5 Coupe.
All models bar the M235i are available in four trim levels: SE, Sport, Modern and M Sport. SE has a generous standard kit list, including 17-inch alloys, rear parking sensors, Professional radio with 6.5-inch colour display, automatic climate control, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, Bluetooth, rain-sensing wipers and a DAB radio.
Sport spec adds sports seats, a different design of alloy wheel and black high-gloss interior trim. Modern brings part-leather upholstery, a 'Dark Pearl' interior trim and another different design of alloys. M Sport, meanwhile, adds M Sport suspension, 18-inch alloys, an aerodynamics kit, revised interior finishes and Alcantara upholstery.
Should I buy one?
The new 2 Series range is hard to judge on the basis of just the M235i. However, if you're looking for a performance-oriented coupe, it's a seriously tempting choice.
Changing the name from 1 Series Coupe to 2 Series doesn't alter the fact that this car will remain a bit of an oddity. It's not as practical as the hatchback, but isn't quite big enough to qualify as a proper four-seat coupe.
However, for those after an involving, rapid two-door with occasional rear seats and enough comfort to tackle long journeys, the M235i is well worth a look.
What Car? says…
Engine size 2.0-litre diesel
Price from £25,865
Torque 280lb ft
0-62mph 7.2 seconds
Top speed 143mph
Fuel economy 58.9mpg
Engine size 2.0-litre turbo petrol
Price from £25,040
Torque 199lb ft
0-62mph 7.0 seconds
Top speed 146mph
Fuel economy 44.8mpg
Engine size 3.0-litre turbo petrol
Price from £34,250
Torque 332lb ft
0-62mph 5.0 seconds
Top speed 155mph
Fuel economy 34.9mpg