Motor Trend has just published a comparison of a trio of hot turbocharged cars - the BMW M235i, Mercedes CLA45 AMG and Subaru WRX STI Launch Edition.
You can catch the full review at Motor Trend
, but here are some M235i highlights and results.
The Bavarian Ballerina
Comprehending the M's character took little effort when hustling among the canyons: a few degrees tilt of the thick helm, a stab of the attentive throttle, one snappy downshift from the eight-speed automatic. Everything's tuned for dynamism. You feel it. You hear it. The rear 245/35R18 Michelin Pilot SuperSports dug in feverishly, tidily converting the 3.0-liter inline-six's 330 lb-ft into a smooth surge. The M235i meticulously sliced through the bends, with variable steering that served up an ideal weightiness, albeit with little tactility. "This is a solid-driving car," Lago opined. "Good fundamentals: powerful engine, rear drive. It's the basics."
The M put down numbers that would make an extinct 335-horse 1 Series M nervous. Sixty mph came in just 4.4 seconds (the 1M did it in 4.2), and the quarter mile in 13.0 seconds at 106.6 mph (the 1M did 12.8 seconds at 110.2 mph). It ran our figure eight in 24.9 seconds at an average 0.78 g -- the 1M did it in 24.7 seconds at an average 0.81 g. The two posted identical lateral acceleration of 0.97 g. Among its two rivals, the M235i was a mid-packer, equaling the STI's and CLA's skidpad performances and barely edging out the STI in acceleration. Its brake pedal took some getting used to (too mushy when charging at 10/10ths), but fade was never an issue and its 60-0 braking was the group's best at 103 feet. We had mixed feelings about its real-world ride quality. "I think it has the worst ride of this group," said Lieberman. "It's sprung softer than the STI and AMG, but it just doesn't eat up bumps as well. Too many secondary motions."
We couldn't help but think that in a near-luxury car, some, if not all, of the absent amenities—satellite radio, navigation, rearview camera, heated seats -- should come standard. And you'd expect that, as an M Performance car, oil and coolant temperature gauges -- or even a mechanical limited-slip differential (optional) and bigger brakes (optional) -- would be included. Then again, those upgrades will likely be standard weapons in the forthcoming M2's arsenal.
The M235i is two notches above the CLA45 AMG when fun is factored in, mostly for its sublime balance and smooth moves. It's a superb rear-drive coupe that boosts your heart rate and puts a grin under your nose -- just not as hastily as a $38,000 Subaru with gold shoes.
Randy's Notes: "This is the best-handling production BMW I've driven in 10 years. This car is well-balanced. What a pleasure!"
Streets of Willow Lap: 1:26.37
(compared to CLA45 @ 1:26.20 and WRX STI @ 1:26.12)
3rd Place: Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG
Big on speed, style, and price; small on emotion.
2nd Place: BMW M235i
A well-balanced rear-driver in need of options for pizzazz.
1st Place: Subaru WRX STI
Launch Edition: Loud, fast, surefooted, amenity-packed—it typifies fun.
Full review @ Motor Trend