Just got back from a track day at Buttonwillow Raceway in California with another member on here (JustinCredibleM
- also owner of an M235i) and some other friends. Overall, we were both happy with the performance of the car as it was quite fun to drive on the track!
Both of our cars had the 8spd auto, which was superb considering it isn't a DCT. Very quick upshifts and just a bit slower on downshifts. Steering feel was great and very accurate - you don't lose much feel with the steering system on this car.
In Sport+, the car lets you get loose a bit more, which adds to the fun of driving it, but it definitely does a good job of keeping you in check when/if you mess up. It is more intrusive than the MDM in the E92 M3, but then again, this isn't really a true "M" car either, so I wasn't expecting much there. I couldn't find out how to completely disable the traction control systems, so there was no chance for me to play with that.
One thing we found out was that if your tire pressures are detected to be low (we lowered the tire pressures before getting on the track), the car would force you into Comfort mode and won't let you change from it. I had to do a TPMS reset while the tires were hot for it to detect the higher PSI.
Both Justin and I agreed on a couple things though: The car was much too quiet and shifted too smoothly at times. There were some cases where we couldn't tell what gear we were in (the gear indicator is too small for a quick glance) because we couldn't feel or hear the car downshifting (the auto is very smooth sometimes) even with the Evolution Raceworks catless 4" downpipe, aFe intake, and BMW M Performance exhaust (on Justin's car - mine was bone stock). The gearing was really short as well, so we were always shifting gears all over the place.
Additionally, putting the car in Sport+ with the ZF8 transmission left in auto would actually do a pretty good job of keeping it in gear through the turns and put the car in a usable gear. It was only an issue in some cases where it would shift up when I didn't want it to. I also found that if you drove the car all the way up to the rev limiter or shift near the rev limit (about 100-200 RPMs), the transmission would be *extremely* slow to upshift. There is probably a 1-2 second delay from when you click the paddles to when it actually shifts when this happens, so I had to get used to shifting early, otherwise I would lose speed.
Overall, the car was fun to drive and handled great (especially with the PSS tires). It is nothing like my GT3 or GTR, but I like the M235i a lot more as it is much better at being a great all around car. I always dreaded driving to and from the track with the GT3 and GTR as ride comfort is not really a priority for those cars, but the ride in the M235i was compliant, yet it handled well enough on the track for it to be fun. Now BMW just needs to make this car with wider fenders to actually fit wider tires/wheels.
Sorry, I don't have any photos of the cars on the track. The track photographer wasn't out that day! Shame.