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      01-18-2014, 12:59 PM   #1
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BIMMERPOST M235i Review: A New 2002? Behind the Wheel of the M235i Coupe
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A new 2002? Behind the wheel of the M235i

By Jens Meiners, BIMMERPOST Contributor

If there is a single car that has put BMW on the map with enthusiasts in the USA, it is the 2002. Derived from the "New Class" mid-size sedan, it became the quintessential compact sports sedan. In 1975, it was replaced by the 3-series - a worthy successor initially, but a car that has become remarkably large over the years. In fact, the current 3-series is almost as long and tall as the E3 luxury sedan, and it is actually wider. There is plenty of room to reinvent the 2002 - which the company has done a few years ago with the 1-series coupe and now with its successor, the 2-series [Official Thread].

If there is a single car that has put BMW on the map with enthusiasts in the USA, it is the 2002. Derived from the "New Class" mid-size sedan, it became the quintessential compact sports sedan. In 1975, it was replaced by the 3-series - a worthy successor initially, but a car that has become remarkably large over the years. In fact, the current 3-series is almost as long and tall as the E3 luxury sedan, and it is actually wider. There is plenty of room to reinvent the 2002 - which the company has done a few years ago with the 1-series coupe and now with its successor, the 2-series.

The 2-series is available on the US market with two powerful engines: The N20 240-horsepower 2.0-liter four in the 228i, and the N55 320-horsepower 3.0-liter straight-six in the M235i. Both engines can be mated with either a slick six-speed manual, or a ZF-sourced eight-speed torque-converter automatic. In the old world, the turbodiesels are the sensible choice; we also expect BMW to eventually launch an ultra-high performance M2.

Yes, the 2-series has become larger than the 1-series Coupe, a trend we intensely dislike - but at least the growth is controlled: It is 2.8 inches longer and 1.3 linches wider, and 0.2 inches lower. The 228i is available with an optional M Sport trim package that adds an aero kit with angry-looking front air intakes; it is standard on the M235i. Stylistically, the 2-series is cleaner and more grown-up than its predecessor, and its headlights display a more intense and purposeful look than the wide open eyes of the 1-series.

At this week's test drive in Las Vegas, the only vehicle available for testing was the automatic-transmission M235i. Its model designation gives it away: It is a member of the M Performance family of cars, engineered with significant input from the M GmbH skunkworks in Garching, just north of the company headquarters in München-Milbertshofen.

There is a lot of promise in the numbers and the model designation - and the M235i delivers. The N55 single-turbo engine sounds silky and sufficiently authoritative; the engineers have enhanced the typical six-cylinder frequencies of the third order, and when you take your foot off the gas, the exhaust will pop and crackle a bit. The sprint from 0 to 60 mph takes a mere 4.8 seconds, and the M235i tops out at a governed 155 mph. At least that's what we were told; the customer website inexplicably quotes a top speed of just 130 mph. (Ungoverned, the M235i would reach between 162 and 165 mph.) Low-end torque is impressive, with the maximum of 332 lb-ft available from 1300 rpm, and the N55 charges hard up to its 6000 rpm power maximum. The quick-shifting automatic can be manipulated with paddle shifters, but we definitely prefer the control of the six-speed manual - which we have sampled extensively in a German-market M135i just recently.

Despite its considerable heft of slightly over 3500 lbs, the M235i feels powerful and agile well into triple-digit velocities. Steering turn-in is precise, and we are slowly if reluctantly getting used to BMW's constantly refined electric power steering. "Variable sport steering" is standard on this top-of-the-line model. The 2-series will probably feel even more agile with the four-cylinder turbo, but we'll gladly trade the final edge in handling for the M235i's extra dollop of power and sound. It is easy to induce and control oversteer even with the standard-configuration M235i; BMW will soon offer an optional limited-slip differential, which we predict will become a very popular option. At very high speeds on uneven surfaces, we found the chassis to be too soft with a bit too much travel; modifications are in order for track use. The brakes are more than sufficient for everyday driving, but they would likewise benefit from an upgrade for very hard street or track use.

Compared to the 1 series (E82), the interior has improved vastly. The instrumentation is laid out neatly, the materials look rather expensive, and most drivers will find it easy to reach a perfect seating and steering wheel position. Rear seat room is fine for kids, but compromised for adults. Legroom has improved compared to the 1-series, but tall guys will invariably hit the headliner.

The M235i is yours for $43,100, and it is perfectly equipped, unless you are fond of the electronic nanny systems which come as part of the optional "Driver Assistance Plus" and "Technology" packages. The 228i comes in even lower, beginning at $32,100. Both cars are very attractive propositions: We think that in today's market, you can't get closer to a 2002.

Also see: BMW M235i Press Launch: M Performance Parts and M235i Racing Car Gallery

We also have a more in-depth review coming, so stay tuned!

BMW M235i Press Launch at Las Vegas Motor Speedway




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      01-18-2014, 06:12 PM   #2
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Thanks for the honest review! I'm a little concerned by the less-than-raving impressions on the weight, steering, and chassis feel, but nonetheless excited.

I was also really, really, really hoping the test car wouldn't be red.
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      01-18-2014, 06:23 PM   #3
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Sounds like the steering is still the weak link here. That's a shame.
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      01-18-2014, 06:26 PM   #4
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3500 lbs??? Oink!
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      01-18-2014, 06:28 PM   #5
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here's a sound clip:
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      01-18-2014, 06:31 PM   #6
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Thanks for the review, I'll wait for the M2 tho.
According to Scott26 the reveal will be in about 2 years so hopefully sometime in 2015 we can see the spy shots
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      01-18-2014, 06:33 PM   #7
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Why is the car so fat (weight)?
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      01-18-2014, 06:35 PM   #8
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Needs more sway bar...............

Hope the M3/4 brackets/bushings and sway bar will be a direct fit.
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      01-18-2014, 06:45 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Greenkirby21 View Post
Why is the car so fat (weight)?
M235i in basic EU-specs configuration weights exactly the same as 135i coupe (see: BMW.com). My guess is that US-specs car weights more because of additional equipment: adaptive suspension, electric seats, automatic transmission, sunroof etc: Maybe BMW also added extra structural reinforcements for US market to pass stringent "small front overlap" crash test. That's pure 100% speculation though.
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      01-18-2014, 06:47 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seanq View Post
Thanks for the review, I'll wait for the M2 tho.
According to Scott26 the reveal will be in about 2 years so hopefully sometime in 2015 we can see the spy shots
Spy shots in 2015? No way, the car is here in front of us, is just in houdini mode

http://www.2addicts.com/forums/showthread.php?t=936338
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      01-18-2014, 06:51 PM   #11
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Sounds like a cosmetic refresh of the 1 series with the undesirable result of added weight. It also sounds like the suspension continues to be the weak link. I'll keep my modified 135i thank you.
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      01-18-2014, 07:07 PM   #12
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      01-18-2014, 07:11 PM   #13
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"At very high speeds on uneven surfaces, we found the chassis to be too soft with a bit too much travel"

This isn't really excusable with an adaptive suspension.
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      01-18-2014, 07:21 PM   #14
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Nice review, great pictures!
Car is very appealing for fun driving.
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      01-18-2014, 07:34 PM   #15
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I didn't really read any negatives about the steering. How are you guys deducing that?
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      01-18-2014, 07:46 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sedan_Clan View Post
I didn't really read any negatives about the steering. How are you guys deducing that?
All in all, I wouldn't say it's negative. But the back and forth of pros and cons gave me a conflicted impression. It's phrased in terms of tradeoffs. As if, despite its strengths, the car leaves something important to be desired.

Quote:
Despite its considerable heft of slightly over 3500 lbs, the M235i feels powerful and agile well into triple-digit velocities. Steering turn-in is precise, and we are slowly if reluctantly getting used to BMW's constantly refined electric power steering. "Variable sport steering" is standard on this top-of-the-line model. The 2-series will probably feel even more agile with the four-cylinder turbo, but we'll gladly trade the final edge in handling for the M235i's extra dollop of power and sound. It is easy to induce and control oversteer even with the standard-configuration M235i; BMW will soon offer an optional limited-slip differential, which we predict will become a very popular option. At very high speeds on uneven surfaces, we found the chassis to be too soft with a bit too much travel; modifications are in order for track use. The brakes are more than sufficient for everyday driving, but they would likewise benefit from an upgrade for very hard street or track use.
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      01-18-2014, 07:47 PM   #17
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      01-18-2014, 07:50 PM   #18
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      01-18-2014, 08:17 PM   #19
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Any news on when the M2 will hit Stateside?
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      01-18-2014, 08:31 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rev ///Me View Post
Any news on when the M2 will hit Stateside?
A few posts up...

Quote:
Originally Posted by seanq View Post
Thanks for the review, I'll wait for the M2 tho.
According to Scott26 the reveal will be in about 2 years so hopefully sometime in 2015 we can see the spy shots
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      01-18-2014, 09:25 PM   #21
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So much potential, squandered. So let me get this straight; an M performance car that is heavy, soft suspension, light steering and no lsd?


Looks like they're leaving a lot of room for an imminent M2.
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      01-18-2014, 09:41 PM   #22
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