2014 BMW M235i review
* New model takes over from 1 Series Coupe * Range-topping M235i tested * On sale now, priced from £34,250...
The BMW 2 Series is, in effect, the new name for the 1 Series Coupe. It's a rear-wheel-drive, two-door coupe that's supposed to focus on the sporty side of driving more 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 later this year; 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, it's a bit firmer than the M135i hatch on which it's based, but there's a compliancy there that you won't find on most other high-performance coupes – including the Peugeot RCZ R.
Arrive at the first corner and the BMW reponds sharply enough, with steering that's pleasingly light and precise – even though you don't get a huge amount of sensation through your fingertips.
However, a Peugeot RCZ R is ultimately a more capable machine; the M235i's front tyres run out of grip that bit earlier and its body leans more, which limits the speed you can carry through bends.
Surprisingly, too, the cheaper M135i is actually more fun to drive, because it feels better balanced when you're pushing close to the limits.
You’ll still have plenty of fun, though, because you can use the M235i's throttle to help adjust where the nose is pointing.
Our test car was fitted with the optional eight-speed 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 and it sounds terrific, with a distinctive six-cylinder howl that just gets louder as you rev the engine beyond 4000rpm. The M235i is seriously quick, too, with 0-62mph taking just 5.0 seconds (4.8 if you opt for the excellent automatic 'box).
Refinement is acceptable rather than brilliant (this is the performance variant, after all). There's some road and wind noise, but less than in more hardcore rivals, such as the RCZ R.
What's the 2014 BMW M235i like inside?
The cabin is very similar to that of the 1 Series, which means that the driving position isn't perfect in versions with a manual gearbox because of the 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 into bends.
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 and classy enough, but you might wish for a bit more drama in such a high-performance car.
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 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 the capacity offered by potential rivals, such as the Audi A5 Coupe. You do get split-folding rear seats, though.
Standard equipment includes 18-inch alloys, climate control, xenon headlights, rear parking sensors, Bluetooth and a USB socket. You also get a DAB radio, although have to pay extra if you want a sat-nav.
Should I buy one?
If you're looking for a performance-oriented coupe, the M235i is a seriously tempting choice. It's blisteringly fast, easy to live with, classy inside and remarkably good value for money.
However, we reckon the M135i is an even better choice. It's just as rapid, yet more comfortable, more practical and, crucially, more fun. The fact it's also cheaper only sweetens the deal.
What Car? says…
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