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2014 BMW M235i - First Drive

The 135i replacement is a stunning 326hp, rear-wheel drive, M-tuned coupe - let that sink in!

Alex Bernstein
Feb 14, 2014 SHARE

BMW M235i Details:

  • 326hp N55 3.0L turbo motor | 332 lb-ft from 1300rpm | 60mph in 4.8sec
  • Rear-wheel drive | Adaptive suspension | Big Brakes | Intelligent Dynamic Stability Control
  • Minimalist interior | 3505 lb | Fun on the track
  • Under $45000 | Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires | 6-speed trans no charge option

Electronics: 6.5" iDrive display | Connected Drive | BMW Apps

Pros: Attractive | Affordable | Awesome to drive | First gear burnouts

Cons: Doesn't have DCT trans option | LSD optional extra


2014 BMW m235i first drive driver side front view 05 Photo 2/66   |   2014 BMW M235i First Drive Driver Side Front View 05

Yes, BMW has added another numeral to its model line and it's the 2 Series. The trick here, though, is that it replaces the 1 Series in the US, where we don't get the European hatchbacks from the same model lineage. So it now follows the rejuvenated numbering, where odd numbers mean four doors, and even numbers mean coupes and convertibles.

Enough about the naming, though, because the sportiest 2 Series, the M235i, is spectacular. It's one of the best BMW cars we've driven since, dare we say, the 135i. It's bigger, faster and stronger in every way, and it's downright handsome.

The Bavarian design team nailed it. From the rising front-to-rear swage line, to the compact greenhouse and aggressive front-end, the M235i owns the road with more presence than anything in its segment.

2014 BMW m235i first drive steering wheel 03 Photo 3/66   |   2014 BMW M235i First Drive Steering Wheel 03

BMW wanted to reference its legendary 2002 with the M235i, offering a powerful and compact car that's also light and agile, while being strong in its appearance. Sure, we don't see much of the 2002 here, but the philosophy is undeniable.

While larger in every way than the outgoing 135i compact car, it manages to weigh about the same, which is refreshing in the land of automotive obesity.

How did the 1 Series successor do from Vegas to LA: 2014 BMW M235i - First Drive Part II

Length is increased by almost 3", while width and wheelbase grow 1.3". The trunk has enough room for more than just golf clubs, with 13.8cuft, and if you decide to carry passengers, they'll be happier with the increased space.

But let's get onto the good stuff, like what makes the M235i go...

BMW used its proven formula of a big punch in a compact car package, with a tweaked N55 I-6 turbo motor boasting 326hp and 332 lb-ft, in a package that weighs an estimated 3500 lb. So the M235i is a rocket. It'll hit 60mph in 4.8sec, or so BMW claims, yet it feels even more eager than that!

2014 BMW m235i first drive wheel 04 Photo 7/66   |   2014 BMW M235i First Drive Wheel 04

On the infield course at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, we were able to feel the benefit of the new chassis. Of course, 50/50 weight distribution kept the M235i balanced and nimble, and thanks to the standard Adaptive M suspension and M Sport braking system, there were no complaints of stability or grip.

See our take on the M235i Racing model: 2014 BMW M235i Racing - First Drive

This is in part thanks to the Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, measuring 225/40 front and 245/35 rear. These are wider than the 135i's front tires, providing more grip and less understeer. The Michelin Pilot Super Sport is also an aggressive tire that speaks volumes about BMW's intentions for its stout coupe, and we love it!

What doesn't speak to the weekend racer, on the other hand, is the eight-speed ZF automatic transmission. There was a lack of connection here, and despite its quick shifts, it didn't feel appropriate for the little M235i.

Don't fret, though, because a six-speed manual transmission is a no-charge option, and one we highly recommend. Unfortunately, the M Performance mechanical limited-slip diff doesn't come standard, so BMW will charge you extra. But at least it's an option...

We're not sure how much it will cost, but if you enjoy driving with spirit, smoking the tires and kicking the tail out, we suggest you go big and opt for it.

2014 BMW m235i first drive badge 06 Photo 66/66   |   2014 BMW M235i First Drive Badge 06

At Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the auto with its open differential was able to hit apexes and demolish the straightaways thanks in part to the Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, but we craved the control of a manual transmission and the power distribution of an LSD.

So, is this an actual M car? Not quite. The M Performance parts fitted to it are meant to bridge the gap between BMW's M division and its regular production cars. And why didn't they just call it the M2? Because an actual M2 is rumored to be under development, and if it's a raw, visceral, sporty upgrade over the entertaining M235i, we have lots to look forward to from our favorite Bavarian brand.

The M235i is an amazing compact car that will please driving enthusiasts and win even more converts to the BMW roundel. It combines a poised chassis with a powerful punch that will other compact car performers such as the Mercedes CLA45 AMG, Audi S3 and VW Golf R a good run for their money, being the only rear-wheel drive car among them.

2014 BMW M235i wheels Photo 12/66   |   2014 BMW M235i

Tech Spec

2014 BMW M235i

Layout front-engine, RWD

Engine 3.0L I-6 24v DOHC with single twin-scroll turbocharger, direct injection

2014 BMW m235i first drive drivers side rear view 08 Photo 16/66   |   2014 BMW M235i First Drive Drivers Side Rear View 08

Transmission six-speed manual or eight-speed ZF automatic

Brakes M Sport four-piston calipers f, two-piston r, rotors TBC

Suspension aluminum double-pivot spring and strut f, five-link independent r

2014 BMW m235i first drive i6 engine 02 Photo 17/66   |   2014 BMW M235i First Drive I6 Engine 02

Wheels & Tires 18x7.5" f, 18x8" r, 225/40, 245/35 R18 Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires

Exterior rear spoiler, front air curtain, Shadowline trim, Ferric Gray mirror caps, dark chrome trim on bumpers, air intakes, kidney grille slats and exhaust tips, M Sport aerodynamic kit

Performance

Power 326hp at 5800rpm

Torque 332 lb-ft at 1300-4500rpm

0-62mph 4.8sec (auto trans)

Top Speed 155mph

Weight 3505 lb (manual), 3535 lb (auto)

Economy 25/32mpg city/highway (est)

MSRP $43100

2014 BMW m235i first drive passenger side front view 13 Photo 21/66   |   2014 BMW M235i First Drive Passenger Side Front View 13
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By Alex Bernstein
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