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      05-08-2014, 11:28 AM   #1
bladeomatic
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1st Time BMW Owner M235i Impressions

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This car has been well reviewed and I've learned a TON from others here in this forum. I just got my EB M235i a few days ago and thought I'd share my initial impressions a bit…coming from someone who doesn't have an E46 in the garage. This is long and opinionated. Feel free to skip over it if you wish.

Former cars:
-Hot Rodded 1970 Beetle (3 x stock HP, 1/4 mile:13.20) Did drag racing and autocross with this.
-1975 Dodge Dart
-Honda Minivan (kid raising years)
-Honda Accord v6's (various)
-Lexus ES330
-Toyota Prius
-Rented an M3 (2012 conv) for a week vacation last year on California coast hiway 1.

The last one is what hooked me. I was a hot rodder out of the gate but put that hat away for about 20 years while I drove sensible cars. The M3 rental was like crack for me and reawakend that need for a more aggressive daily driver. Was originally looking at a 335i as a DD, but my wife pointed out that the kid is in college now and we rarely need room for more than 2 people. Test drove the M235i and it was all over. It felt so much more spunky and fun compared to the 335i I drove before it. Along the way I test drove everything (CLA45, Subaru, Audi S4, Infiniti, Lexus, etc.). Kept coming back to the way the 235 drove.

What I got:

EB
Black Leather
Auto
Tech
Premium
Driver Assist
Driver Assist +
Alarm
Cold Weather
Summer tires
Parking assist
HK stereo
M Performance Exhaust

How's the M235i for me?

In summary it should be named M 2.35, because 2.35 is approaching but not quite 3. Certainly not the pure track genetics, but a lot of key characteristics…aggressive ride, strong engine, killer brakes, responsive steering. Several magazine reviewers have said that the M235i isn't a real sports car. Mule fritters! Anything that accelerates this fast, stops this quick and can slam through a corner this well is a sports car, IMO.

I'm also not a purist re the M religion. I get what it means to the die hards and I'm certainly going to be taking a long hard look at the M2 when it starts peeking out. But I laugh at how many of top video reviews spend minutes pondering why it's not an M or how many M logos it has and what a sin that is. M Performance is a new category that is higher performance than the traditional line of BMW cars and yet below the no-compromise M line. I could care less about what it's called or how it's badged vs. how it drives.

Detailed impressions:

Outside
-A handsome car, but not a killer from every angle for me. This is NOT why I bought it.
-That said I think the head-on front view of the car is the best in the BMW fold. It has a stellar, aggressive view from straight on. Great grille, bumper, headlights & vents combination.
-I also think the 180 degree view from the rear at bumper height is a good look. Higher views from the rear aren't as flattering.
-Side view is OK for me, nice but not amazing. The butt of the car is nowhere near as nice as the nose when looking from the side.
-3/4 front view is good.
-3/4 back view looks a lot better in person than many pics I've seen.
-Rims are a 5 on a 1-10 for me. Good that they hide brake dust, but the design ain't making it for me. Prefer the 228i rim options and many of the other flavor of BMW wheels I've seen.
-Ride height could be dropped a bit to make it look a bit more aggressive. If I eventually get different rims, I may be able to improve these last two points.

Inside
-Interior is nice. Thoughtful, sporty, practical. Not plush or blingy.
-Power seats are great. Not cushy like my Lexus but supportive, adjustable and reassuring when you're driving hard. I'm 6'2 and have a bad left knee (hence the automatic) and I love the long thigh support. I can tilt my seat cushion way back and support a lot of my thighs with this. It's one of the only cars I've driven where my long legs don't need the seats all the way back.
-Most of the buttons are pretty evident, are laid out well and have a good feel to them. I'm a software developer and pay IMMENSE attention to ergonomics, awareness, icons and other things that most folks don't care about. BWM gets about a 7 from me re this. The radio and heater controls are relatively simple and well designed. There are several switches (steering wheel heater, lane departure, etc.) that aren't apparent or placed well, but are generally OK.
-One of the biggest sins re the interaction (for a new user) is the way the driving modes (ECO, Comfort, Sport, Sport plus) and other settings interact. How does Sport+ impact DSC? What's the difference between DTC vs DSC? How does tipping your gearshift into sport mode affect the other driving modes? How do the paddle shifters behave when in standard vs sport shifting modes? Of course I'm figuring this stuff out and the manual helps…but is not complete. It just strikes me that you have this huge LED screen on your dash with a computer connected to it. When I shift to sport +, instead of saying a few words and a picture on the screen, why not tell the user it kills the auto stop, tightens the steering, changes DSC to DTC (and explains the differences)? For all you veteran BMW drivers, you all understand this, but it should be available in 1 area and easy to read.
-The controls feel good. Steering wheel is nice and fat, though a touch slippery. May want an Alcantara replacement later.
-Shifter and paddles fall right into my hands and react nicely. Hand brake is nice and taut.
-Turn signal stalk and other steering wheel controls are all fine. Audio controls for advancing songs is handy.
-I've heard folks say the visibility is fair via the mirrors. I've been driving on busy LA streets/freeways for a few days now and I seem to be able to see fine at all corners.
-Interior lighting and adjustability via iDrive is nice. Outdoor halo lighting of the door pulls is a nice touch.
-HK stereo is good, but not great. See my comments in other threads. I'm a former record producer and have had some killer stereos in my cars. The HK is better than many stock car stereos but could really use some better speakers, more power and a real subwoofer. Less speakers of higher quality would have helped. These will likely be upgraded by me soon.
-As other have said, the back seat is tight. Wife and I are tall, so getting folks into the back means there will be *4* people with tight legroom, as we'll have to cramp ourselves up a bit to give them something in the back. It'll be fine for short trips but not ideal for long ones. I knew this going in.
-Storage is thin on this car. Center console can hold a few small items (phone, sunglasses) but not much more. the two cups in the center console have had their inserts pulled out for drink use and greater storage. 12-16 oz drinks seem to fit fine in these, though I haven't tried a "Monster Gulp" or any of those 42oz giants yet.
-I'll have to get used to using the large door pockets…there's a lot of room there. Just have to see what fits well in there and isn't going to fall out when the door is closed.
-The package tray built into the last seat will actually work for me to put some things into that aren't valuable (phone cord, tire pressure gauge, gum, etc.) I can easily reach into this from the driver position and the sides of the tray seems to keep most things from sliding around much.
-Glove box is smallish and a good reach even for someone with my reach. Fine for a handful of CD's, etc.
-The small storage slot near the driver left knee is gone due to the lane control and collision avoidance buttons. I didn't know this would be forfeited when I ordered these.
-Gauges are are good, though a little busy. Lots of feedback coming at you (tach, speedo, DSC, driving mode, economy, miles, mpg, lane departure, selected gear, navigation). I've got a lot of tech options on my car, so this is expected. I'm sure I'll get these all down soon enough.

Driving
-THIS is why I bought this little go kart!
-My Performance exhaust sounds GREAT. So glad I opted for this. It might give a tiny hp gain…I really don't care. It truly heightens the experience and makes the car sound burly and strong.
-The pedals and controls all feel great. No issue with pedal distance, response, etc. I know some track reviewers have taken off points for brake pedal travel being too long. Perhaps when you're wailing through some high speed turns this could be an issue, but no problem from me here.
-Still breaking in the motor, so no heavy romps past 4k at the moment. I can feel the thing wanting to really go. If you've ever ridden a strong, young, fast horse it's like that…you can feel the strong, tight, athletic energy just waiting to be turned loose.
-That torque is mighty nice. Just cruising along you can press down on the throttle a bit and really feel it pull, without any drama or high rpm revs. This is WAY better than the high-winding M3 I rented last year, which had gobs of HP but you needed to keep it pretty wound up to have that instant response available.
-Steering is nice. Not as feel-y as the hydraulic cars of yesteryear, but an improvement over many other cars I've driven.
-Cornering and grip is also sublime. Haven't done any crazy tracking or sinister canyon runs yet, but corners I used to have to brake for in my other cars, I can actually accelerate through now. Not quite as tight as the M3, but damn fine cornering just the same.
-I know many lament the weight of this car. It certainly doesn't feel as toss-able as older/lighter coupes I've driven, but not once have I felt that it was heavy, bloated or ponderous. The tight suspension, grippy tires and powerful motor keep those thoughts from ever entering my brain.
-The ride is a bit taut. It's a small wheelbase sports car, so that's to be expected. It handles potholes and high speed bumps nice and tight, but certainly not cushy. Long rides on bumpy roads may be a bit tiresome but for smooth highways or moderately cranky city streets it seems fine. And when the curvy roads appear, it feels great and assuring.
-One of my favorite things about this car is it's split personality. Toggle it into "comfort" mode and my wife can drive it comfortably to run errands. Jack the button a few more times to sport + and it really changes it's demeanor. Instantly feels strong and capable. I've not driven any car (BMW or other) that's as widely schizophrenic (in a good way) as this.
-Road noise is reasonable. Fun to listen to with the windows down but pretty quiet at freeway speeds and the windows rolled up.
-The lane changing thing (vibrates the steering wheel when changing lanes w/o turn signal) works reasonably well as does the blind spot assist. Sort of geeky but I think they might prevent a scratch or two on the freeways of LA.
-Tried the parking assist last night for the first time. Worked great on the 1st attempt and was quite easy…even though my BMW salesman told me it was a nightmare.
-Still have a lot to learn and play with re the iDrive. It's handy with the internet news, Yelp and other online goodies available.

Anyways, there's a ton of stuff I and others will learn further about this fun little car. Just wanted to share my initial findings to help those that are waiting or considering.

Cheers!

Last edited by bladeomatic; 05-08-2014 at 11:49 AM.
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      05-08-2014, 11:35 AM   #2
darkerosxx
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Nice review and I agree with almost everything here after having mine almost a couple months now.
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      05-08-2014, 11:41 AM   #3
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Nicely written.

I'm looking forward to the M2 and keeping my options open with the M3 and M4, but haven't ruled out the M235.
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      05-08-2014, 12:06 PM   #4
2+3=5
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Great read thanks for posting! Have you tried the paddle shifting? How is the feel? Can't wait for mine!
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      05-08-2014, 12:24 PM   #5
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Great review!

Welcome to the BMW family. You are officially a douchebag!

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      05-08-2014, 04:26 PM   #6
bladeomatic
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2+3=5 View Post
Great read thanks for posting! Have you tried the paddle shifting? How is the feel? Can't wait for mine!
I have used the paddle shifters. They are quite snappy. Not *quite* as tight as a DCT, but muy bueno. I'll know more after the break-in when I can really open in up and use the paddles for some "fun runs".
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      05-08-2014, 04:31 PM   #7
bladeomatic
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Quote:
Originally Posted by basiluf View Post
Great review!

Welcome to the BMW family. You are officially a douchebag!
LOL!

I don't *FEEL* any different, but I DO find myself cutting off slow/annoying people who don't realize that I'm more important and need to drive faster than them.


A friend on Facebook sent me this link when I told him of my new BMW:

http://online.wsj.com/article/292850...0-0A41CB990F60
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      05-08-2014, 06:58 PM   #8
tracerit
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What is this blind spot assist you're speaking of?

Nice review btw. Thanks for mentioning that the drivers assistance plus takes out that storage slot above the left knee!
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      05-08-2014, 11:29 PM   #9
Jerich0
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Excellent review... !
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      05-08-2014, 11:53 PM   #10
///M235i
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Cheers cheers cheers what a class review. Even if URA HK snob due to your producing roots, nevertheless still a class review…:happyanim :
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      05-08-2014, 11:56 PM   #11
///M235i
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Quote:
Originally Posted by basiluf View Post
Great review!

Welcome to the BMW family. You are officially a douchebag!

Speak for yourself. I don't think were a bunch of douches, rather, we are a superior race.
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      05-09-2014, 01:15 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bladeomatic View Post
LOL!

A friend on Facebook sent me this link when I told him of my new BMW:

http://online.wsj.com/article/292850...0-0A41CB990F60
This only mentions 3 series and 5 series, and fancier BMWs. We are fine
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      05-09-2014, 08:23 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bladeomatic View Post
LOL!

I don't *FEEL* any different, but I DO find myself cutting off slow/annoying people who don't realize that I'm more important and need to drive faster than
Lol !!! Great write up, enjoyed the read.
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      05-09-2014, 09:26 PM   #14
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Great write up. Thanks!
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      05-21-2014, 10:10 PM   #15
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Awesome write-up. Can you comment/confirm the Blind Spot Assist? Everything I've found points that it's not on this car (owners manual, etc) though it's one feature I'd like to have.

Thanks!
-Nick
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      05-21-2014, 10:24 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nyeager View Post
Awesome write-up. Can you comment/confirm the Blind Spot Assist? Everything I've found points that it's not on this car (owners manual, etc) though it's one feature I'd like to have.

Thanks!
-Nick
I can confirm that blind spot assistant is not available on M235i. You only get lane departure warning (vibration on steering wheel).
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      06-05-2014, 11:19 PM   #17
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Didn't want to start a new thread for my driving impression, so i'll add on to this one. My current daily driver is an 09 E92, 6 spd manual, premium, Nav, sports package and running COBB stage 1 for the last 15k miles. Tires are Pilot Super Sports, car has 67k miles, has been almost entirely trouble free with the exception of the ubiquitous HPFP failure at 4,800 miles during a BMWCCA mountain twists drive...limped to dealership and had it back same day.

Anyways, I've been very interested in the M235 since we all first heard about it a year or two ago. Was out of country with the military until a few weeks ago so finally just got a chance to drive an estoril blue, coral red, 8spd, with no NAV.

As has become the custom in way too many military documents i'll start with the Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF): Not sure its good enough to spend another $50k when mine is still beautiful, reliable, and very fun.

The M235 is clearly a more competent track car than the E92 335, much more nimble and sure footed than mine. I was able to power through corners and maintain traction in the M235 where mine began to lose traction. It felt much lighter than the 3,500 pounds it carries. But as a daily driver, you would not notice the difference in driving dynamics in a significant way. The steering was just fine. I think I prefer the hydraulic, but I could easily live with the EPS. It was nicely weighted, conveniently light in the parking lot, decent weight driving aggressively through corners.

M235 felt faster than mine stock, definitely not as fast as mine tuned.

The 8 spd ZF transmission is very good. My wife has an X1 with the N20 and ZF. For an auto it is very good...but I still feel like i'm missing something anytime i'm driving an auto.

The engine sound was nice, I couldn't really tell it was being fed in through the speakers. Exhaust was nice. Overall it seemed slightly higher pitch than mine.

The interior is nice, I like the direction BMW is going with their interiors, but the non NAV i-drive screen is just a joke. It would be better to have no screen at all than the tiny, useless one protruding from the center of the dash. Seats were very comfortable and supportive.

I may still wind up in an M235. It was a very fun ride, better looking in person than in pictures, and it would be fun and easy to live with for a few years.

My 335 will be paid off next month, so I have some time to decide what I want to do, and no car payment...Yay! Next September(2015) i'm going to Munich for Octoberfest...and very possibly a Eurodelivery on either an M3 or an M235. If I can get a good deal on an ED M3, then that'll be the next ride, if not i'll probably be in an M235.
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      06-09-2014, 11:12 AM   #18
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Great review...and yea high torque is certainly very addictive - as well as useful. Glad your loving your M235!
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