Tim Suddard
Tim Suddard Publisher
2/28/14 10:00 a.m.

The original BMW M3 was aimed right at our hearts– light, tight and powered by a high-winding engine. Since then, the M3 has gotten even faster, but it’s no secret that it’s also gotten heavier and more complicated.

Now that the manufacturer has released an M version of their new 2 Series coupe, we have a message for BMW: Welcome back to the original game plan.

Their new M235i is sized right between the 1 Series and the now rather porky 3 Series. The styling falls between the two cars, too, although the awkward Bangle design elements of past BMWs have finally been cast aside. Unlike recent M cars that were full of options that raised the price–and added weight–the new M235i comes as a bare-bones package for $43,000. Options can then be added as desired, including a dealer-installed limitedslip differential.

While the 1M was a great handler, the M235i is easier to drive and a much more forgiving car on track. Some credit has to go to the 1.3-inchlonger wheelbase. With just a hint of understeer, the new platform is fast and comfortable. When we test-drove the car around Las Vegas Motor Speedway, we could place it wherever we wanted and found it to be secure and stable, even in the sharp hairpins and S-curves.

The familiar 3.0-liter inline-six, now with TwinPower Turbo motivation, will be familiar to BMW fans. This time around, in 320-horsepower guise, the power comes on smooth, hard and almost anywhere in the rpm range. The big four-wheel-disc brakes are easily up to the task of smoothly and repeatedly slowing the M235i from speeds of more than 100 mph.

While we haven’t yet had a chance to do definitive testing, BMW claims zero-to-60 times in the 5-second range. Based on our experience behind the wheel, that figure seems believable to us. Unlike the latest M3, which had atrocious fuel mileage numbers in the mid- to high teens, the M235i is rated at 32 mpg on the highway.

We immediately ordered one of these cars to use as a long-term project—with a manual transmission, of course. Finally, here was a BMW M-car that combined the soul of the E30, the legendary six-cylinder and practicality of the E36, and the modern performance of the 1M.

Look for us at a track day or autocross near you. We’ll be the ones grinning from ear to ear.

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3/1/14 7:17 a.m.

and if they had it in a 5-door hatchback, I'd be buying one.

3/1/14 6:19 p.m.

I'd love to see how this does on an autocross course. I recall some thinking that the 135 would be the car to have in its SCCA stock class -- but the turbo lag, though hardly noticeable on the street, drove at least one autocrosser I know to distraction.

noddaz Dork
3/3/14 3:30 p.m.

That looks good...

turtl631 Reader
3/5/14 9:06 a.m.

The small styling changes from the 1 make it much less polarizing. Estoril Blue with the reddish leather is a pretty sweet combo...I don't think I'm a "new turbo BMW" type purchaser though.

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