2020 BMW M235i xDrive review

We drive the punchy range-topping variant of the newest member of the BMW family, the 2 Series Gran Coupe

BMW M235i  2 Series Gran Coupe
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What is the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe?

BMW has added an all-new model to its line-up, a four-door 2 Series Coupe that’s a direct rival to the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class.

It is the fourth of BMW’s swept-back four-doors, which have proved popular since the launch of the 5 Series Gran Turismo in 2009.

BMW m235i Anzac Bridge
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Despite the badge, it’s based on the new BMW 1 Series hatchback and not the older rear-wheel drive two-door coupe 2 Series.

Priced from $47,990, the Australian 2 Series Gran Coupe range mirrors the 1 Series line-up, starting with a three-cylinder 218i and stepping up to a punchy four-cylinder, all-wheel-drive M235i xDrive that starts at $69,990 before you start ticking option boxes.

We drove the more powerful car in Sydney as part of BMW’s local launch program.

What is the BMW M235i like to drive?

The M235i’s 2.0-litre turbo is BMW’s most powerful production four-cylinder engine and produces 225kW and 450Nm to power all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission.

BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe rear
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It’s not earth-shatteringly quick, but throttle response is swift and gear changes seamless and there’s a throaty exhaust note that lets out the obligatory racy pops, particularly when engaging the paddle shifters.

The xDrive set-up favours the front wheels and sends power to rear axle when needed, which can result in some rear flick when braking through bends.

BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe
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The M Performance suspension is included in the price, though you can opt for the standard damping as a no-cost option if you prefer your ride a little softer. A good compromise is to stick with the sportier springs, but specify 18-inch wheels instead of the harder riding 19s that come standard but seem a little unnecessary for a car this size.

One of the cars we drove came with the $2200 M performance package that comes with 18-inch wheels, as well some Shadowline blackened exterior garnish.

BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe M235i
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Adaptive suspension is also available for $400, but is only available with 18-inch wheels for unspecified ‘engineering reasons”.

Ample front legroom means even taller people will have no trouble finding a good driving position and the leather sports seats are comfortable and provide excellent side bolstering.

What’s the BMW M235i like to live with?

The 2 Series Gran Coupe is a nicely proportioned car that borrows some design elements from its bigger coupe sedans including the frameless side windows, but its considerably shorter length doesn’t allow it to mimic their distinctive coupe silhouettes.

But it’s nicely styled, with the front end sporting one of the better examples of the new bold kidney grille styling, while other details such as creases, diffusers and fog-light surrounds give it a serious but sporty aesthetic.

BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe rear
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The 2 Series Gran Coupe also feels big inside – BMW points out it’s actually roomier than the E46 3 Series (1997-2006), with a 55mm longer wheelbase and 33mm more legroom.

Luggage capacity is a handy 430-litres. The boot space is quite long but you might have trouble fitting bulky objects through the narrow aperture.

BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe luggage area
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Priced at $69,990, the M235i xDrive costs $22,000 more than the three-cylinder, FWD 218i. Standard kit in both cars includes a head-up display, wireless phone charging, all the Connected Drive tech and a reversing assistant that will self-reverse about 50 metres in the same direction you just drove forward – great for getting in and out of tight spaces.

The extra coin spent in the M235i brings a more powerful powertrain and xDrive, M Sport brakes, and other extras including 19-inch M Light alloy wheels, M Sport seats, chunky M Sport steering wheel, Harman/Kardon premium sound system, adaptive LED headlights, two-zone climate control air-conditioning, power-adjusted front seats, leather upholstery, and rear spoiler.

BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe infotainment
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Once inside the 2 Series Gran Coupe’s dashboard will look very familiar for anyone who has driven one of the new-model Bimmers. A 10.25-inch central takes centre place, with equal-sized screen used for the digital instrument cluster.

Wireless Apple CarPlay that no longer requires a paid subscription adds to the convenience and will be joined by wireless Android Auto in the middle of 2020 that will also have the ability to project directions on the head-up display when using a navigation app.

It also equips a BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant that allows you to perform various tasks via voice activation starting with a “Hey, BMW” command.

BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe seats
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The M235i’s 2.0-litre turbo consumes 7.6L/100km combined, compared the 218i’s frugal 1.5-litre three-cylinder’ 5.9L/100km consumption.

Like the rest of the BMW range, it is covered by a three-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, which now seems a little miserly considering the Mercedes-Benz new five-year coverage.

Does the BMW M235i represent good value?

In isolation, there’s a lot to like about BMW M235i. It’s a great overall package that oozes driver appeal and it nicely fills one of the few niches left in BMW’s line-up.

Its price slots between its $72,500 Mercedes-AMG A35 and $65,800 Audi S3 sedan rivals, while the sleek design is likely to win plenty fans over the M135i hatchback, despite the $6000 premium.

BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe M235i xDrive
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A more difficult decision is choosing between this and the entry-level 218i that still beings plenty to the table for $22,000 less and is certainly worth a look if performance isn’t at the top of your list.

And then there’s the fact that for just $1000 more you can land yourself an excellent, and bigger, BMW 3 Series 330i that strikes a great balance between comfort and driveability.

Even so, the M235i is unique enough to attract its own legion of fans, just like the 2 Series Coupe managed to do after arriving on the scene in 2014.

 

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