2020 BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupe new car reviews

What is the new BMW Gran Coupe? Good question. Here, we’ll let BMW explain:

“The BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe is a low-slung, sporty four-door coupe with frameless windows and a wide stance, traditional design features of two-door coupes. The slightly angled headlights with BMW four-eyed halo daytime running lights draw attention to the traditional BMW kidney grille, which is a large connecting design element of the front of the new car.”

So it’s kind of like a sporty four-door sedan. Except it’s a coupe. And, technically, BMW doesn’t offer a 2 Series sedan. It’s either Coupe, Gran Coupe, Convertible or M2 Competition Coupe.

This new Gran Coupe comes in two different flavors: 228-horsepower 228i xDrive as well as the 301-horsepower M235i xDrive Gran Coupe. No matter which engine selected, all-wheel drive comes standard.

The slower option, BMW notes, can still reach 60 in 6.0 seconds. The M-branded version also gets a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine, but can hit 60 in 4.7 seconds–4.6 with the optional overboost function.  That’s the one that we drove.

Other than the $2650 Premium Package, our car didn’t have a ton of options. The forged 19-inch wheels added just $600 to the final.

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David S. Wallens David S. Wallens
Editorial Director

It’s quick, it’s practical. You kinda want to make fun of the Gran Coupe moniker, but maybe it’s the best of both worlds for some people. It really might well be business up front, party in the back.

It drives like a BMW. Is it a full-on M-car? Maybe not raw enough, but it’s quick off the line while the eight-speed gearbox doesn’t leave you waiting.

Slip it into Sport for more aggressive mapping. It’s a two-pedal setup that you can learn to love. Oh, and that exhaust note.

Let’s circle back to the engine. It’s always there. Smooth, no dips. Sure that this isn’t an inline-six?

Interior is standard BMW fare: solid controls, slightly subdued. Great gauges without any gimmicks. It’s spot-on. Very comfortable seats. Good visibility. It’s a place I could spend a few hours.

What’s going to temper all of this? That’s a big grille. Do you care? And the rear end doesn’t have a traditional BMW look. And while it’s more expensive, the M2 Competition Coupe is the one that we’d want. But that Comp Coupe also costs $13k more.

So, where does this one live? It kind of replaces the old 3 Series sedan–about that size, about that mission.

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View comments on the GRM forums
nderwater UltimaDork
5/13/20 9:29 a.m.

From the side and rear 3/4 I'd mistake it for a Hyundai Sonata, and I'm not sure how I feel about that. How's the feel behind the wheel compared to the M325i that was in the GRM fleet?

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
5/13/20 9:33 a.m.

In reply to nderwater :

Yeah, the rear three-quarter view isn't its best. 

From behind the wheel, the new car is quick--like, deceptively quick. It feels mild until you get into it. The eight-speed transmission just keeps popping gears. 

I could see the older, rear-drive car feeling more nimble on track, but for around town, the new one did very well. 

MTechnically (Forum Supporter)
MTechnically (Forum Supporter) Reader
5/13/20 9:36 a.m.

What is it? Effectively, it's a Mini Countryman in a BMW suit. From what I have heard, it's a decently good driving car for people who will probably never even get near the redline. Not sure it lives up to "the Ultimate Driving Machine", but then again I'm not sure most modern BMW's would.

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
5/13/20 9:59 a.m.

In reply to MTechnically (Forum Supporter) :

I hear what you're saying, and I feel like BMW has a strategy of making two types of cars:

The first is for people that really just want to be seen in a BMW for the status. That's where cars like this M235i Grand Coupe fit. It's not the fastest, most breathtaking ride in their lineup, but it really isn't meant to be. The other type of car is something like the M2 and the M2 Competition. They are, at the very least,  much more serious takes on a sports car for people who want that sort of thing.

So I agree with you that the M235i Grand Coupe is a kind of non-BMW, but if selling more normal cars like it means more cars like the M2 Competition exist, I'm all here for it.

MTechnically (Forum Supporter)
MTechnically (Forum Supporter) Reader
5/13/20 11:25 a.m.

In reply to Colin Wood :

Yeah, I largely agree. The enthusiast side of me is not a big fan of the FWD based BMW sedan, but I totally understand the business case behind building them. Like I said, by all accounts the car is pretty decent dynamically, so at least that is true to the BMW brand of old. I guess I'm just a little to nostalgic for the days where almost everything in their line up was dynamically strong, but that's just not the customer base anymore.

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
5/13/20 11:27 a.m.

FWIW, it feels like a BMW from behind the wheel--the touch points, the steering, the throttle. Yeah, it's just not conventional underneath. Most people, though, won't even notice. 

thatsnowinnebago (Forum Supporter)
thatsnowinnebago (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
5/14/20 1:45 p.m.

Wait, this car is FWD?

Colin Wood
Colin Wood Associate Editor
5/14/20 2:10 p.m.

In reply to thatsnowinnebago (Forum Supporter) :

All-wheel-drive, but it is a front-wheel-drive-based platform shared with MINI.

nderwater UltimaDork
5/14/20 3:14 p.m.

Is it saddled with the infamous Audi understeer?

David S. Wallens
David S. Wallens Editorial Director
5/14/20 3:30 p.m.
nderwater said:

Is it saddled with the infamous Audi understeer?

Good question but no, not really. Maybe it feels more like a Subaru? Honestly, around town, it just grips the pavement and goes. 

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