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      07-17-2014, 08:31 AM   #1
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Chris Harris on the M235i with LSD and M Performance Parts

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Here's how the automotive media actually works - on an extremely superficial and unimportant level. I asked BMW if I could run an M235i for a few months, it said "yes". I then added it might be fun to take a look at the M Performance options, especially the optional locking differential. It said "Sounds like a plan". I then added that none of the cosmetic stuff interested me, in fact it would probably actively annoy me, but BMW Germany still sent a lovely chap over to adhere the most dreadful stickers to the sides of the car. I duly said they were foul; BMW wasn't happy. I suppose I should just tear them off, but I watched dear Toby apply them with such love that I haven't the heart.

Funny old world.

But I really can forgive the stickers, because this is one hell of a machine. It will do battle with the new Golf R on video soon (yes, we're coming back!) but in isolation it's everything I could want in a small rear-wheel drive coupe. BMW is still considered the master of naturally aspirated high-performance six-cylinder motors, but it has seamlessly transferred its skills to turbocharging. Yes, it's not a full M-car, but for response, outright shove and music, this blown-six makes a compelling case for being one of the best engines on sale.

It hits hard from 2,500rpm, sings all the way to 6,500rpm and is connected to a very slick six-speed manual and now a locking rear differential. For me, that's the perfect recipe for fun. Other rivals in this fast emerging sub-M3 performance category are faster point-to-point, but none gives you that delicious feeling of adjusting cornering line with your right foot, or fills the cabin with straight-six sonics. Again, I like the fake-ish noise, but then I'm a Human League fan.

Isn't it strange how a gearlever can make a gearshift feel quite different? The optional, stumpy M Performance item somehow gives the sensation of a more direct shift - and I've grown to like the look of it too. Would I pay £172 for it? Of course not.

Likewise much of the interior Alcantara and carbon trimmings which are actually very tastefully executed but sadly do nothing for an aesthetic-vacuum like myself. I suppose I can only sanction wasting money on visual tat if I feel I've exhausted the spend on stuff that adds to the driving experience. So the differential is a must, but the upgraded brakes are actually no bigger, so I can't really see the point. If I was BMW M Performance, I'd have left the rears standard and offered a big steel, vented rotor to fit behind a 19-inch wheel.

I do however love the silly steering wheel and its illegible readout and controls that caused me to invent new swear words during a shoot earlier this week. It's the definition of a cool gadget, and I'd probably waste £1,250 just for the way it looks and feels in the hand.

If I happen to think the stickers look like a dog's dinner, the population under the age of 30 appears to disagree. Neil bought the car along to the Nurburgring 24-hour and ended up being folk hero for the weekend, a role I suspect he quietly enjoyed. The Germans just loved the bodykit and the M Performance logos and the fruity exhaust burble. For me, colour plays a big part - BMW Cardiff has an M235i demo in black, with all the same body mods as this car, but without the stripe and with bigger 19-inch rims. It looks the conkers.

We're up on 7,000 miles now - there has been no request for a slurp of oil, the brakes have taken a beating but do not judder and I can't really comment on tyre wear because two video shoots meant beasting two sets of rears. As a dual-role tyre that allows you to drive on the road in any weather, but then tolerate hard track use, I think Michelin Pilot Super Sports are flipping brilliant.

I remain an iDrive sceptic. The interface just doesn't work for me, and the new track-pad simply adds to the confusion, but the counterpoint is Neil who simply adores it. What I do enjoy is stepping inside the car and immediately having it Bluetooth to my phone and music. But then all modern cars seem to do that these days.

Where BMW manages to just raise itself above the competition is making the cabin feel more driver focused than the others: the dash is canted toward the driver, just like in Bimmers of old. And the seat, wheel, pedals relationship is spot on. Those few remaining three-pedal performance cars (god I hate writing that) seem to have no understanding of the importance of the height of the brake pedal in relation to the throttle - in the M235i, rolling onto the accelerator for downshifts couldn't be more natural. It's a small point, but one that I enjoy countless times even on the shortest drives.

Fuel consumption fluctuates wildly according to how it's driven, but I see mid 30s on longer journeys and can suppress that in to the mid 20s whenever the mood takes me.

I suppose the last point of discussion is size. Small coupes are now what we used to call big coupes, but this remains a car you can thread with confidence on UK roads. It's the key ingredient in making it a great car over here. Take that engine, the fun chassis, the sheer performance and then allow the driver not to worry about width and you have something very special.

With or without stickers.








Last edited by ManCityFan; 07-17-2014 at 11:45 AM.
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      07-17-2014, 10:30 AM   #2
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Can't wait to see the vs Golf R video!
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      07-17-2014, 10:35 AM   #3
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It is really a shame the LSD is not a factory option. If it were, I'd consider buying an M235i, but no dealer or port installed parts for me. They fall into a separate category for SCCA events.
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      07-17-2014, 10:42 AM   #4
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where are the pics of the hated stickers???
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      07-17-2014, 10:44 AM   #5
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Great write up
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      07-17-2014, 10:48 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bahn360Photo
where are the pics of the hated stickers???
In for more pics!
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      07-17-2014, 10:48 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bahn360Photo View Post
where are the pics of the hated stickers???
Willing to bet they're the same ones from the LV launch event:

http://www.2addicts.com/forums/showthread.php?t=936338
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      07-17-2014, 10:56 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bradleyland View Post
Willing to bet they're the same ones from the LV launch event:

http://www.2addicts.com/forums/showthread.php?t=936338
Yea, those look pretty terrible
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      07-17-2014, 11:07 AM   #9
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how about a review of the LSD already.. gee whiz...
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      07-17-2014, 11:17 AM   #10
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Still really loved this car. Would have one in the garage already if the F80 M3 wasn't already on the way
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      07-17-2014, 11:44 AM   #11
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Quote:
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where are the pics of the hated stickers???
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      07-17-2014, 12:12 PM   #12
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Why is there no video as yet?
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      07-17-2014, 01:03 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ManCityFan View Post
I don't mind the rocker panel stickers on this car, but the one at the crease line doesn't suite the color.
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      07-17-2014, 01:07 PM   #14
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Quote:
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Why is there no video as yet?
The drive youtube channel he does videos for is on some sort of vacation, and has been since may. I think it's all to do with preparing for their new TV series on NBC sports.
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      07-17-2014, 01:09 PM   #15
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The drive youtube channel he does videos for is on some sort of vacation, and has been since may. I think it's all to do with preparing for their new TV series on NBC sports.
VACATION??? WHAT!!!
Who gave them permission to go on vacation when we are waiting patently for the video. LOL
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      07-17-2014, 01:12 PM   #16
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I dare you to try and read that without applying a Chris Harris accent while you're reading. Lol
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      07-17-2014, 01:15 PM   #17
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Quote:
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I dare you to try and read that without applying a Chris Harris accent while you're reading. Lol
LOL, I'm guilty of this.

By the way, what do you call an M235i with a limited slip diff and M performance parts?

An M2.
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      07-17-2014, 01:29 PM   #18
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Quote:
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LOL, I'm guilty of this.

By the way, what do you call an M235i with a limited slip diff and M performance parts?

An M2.
From the factory.
Let's just hope it prices out like that, and the additional suspension tweaks and engine tune are added for free.
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      07-17-2014, 02:10 PM   #19
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Looks like it spit the front axle caps like many others......
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      07-17-2014, 03:48 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BimmerMeUp View Post
From the factory.
Let's just hope it prices out like that, and the additional suspension tweaks and engine tune are added for free.

Don't forget the flairs and carbon fiber roof!
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      07-17-2014, 05:36 PM   #21
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Came here looking for the video
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      07-17-2014, 06:47 PM   #22
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I'm sorry, I normally enjoy Chris's delightfully dry, yet fact bearing and informative journalism. But that preface of not wanting those additional cosmetic/performance bits, read to me as; pardon me BMW, but would you be so kind as to let me have one of your best vehicles to date, and oh yes, incase you were unaware, I am one of the premier, most followed, and well respected auto journalist around, so please do not burden my vehicle with your marketing and advertisements.
I don't know why, it just came of extremely spoiled brat-ish to me.
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