I'll be honest with you. I never really liked the way the 2 Series looked. I've always felt that it looks a little lazy and soft. It's toned in front and it gets heavy towards the middle with a rear that somewhat resembles the old Toyota Vios, which would have been fine if it didn't cost five of those. Even worse, as an M Performance car you kind of expect it to look like a wannabe M2, but it doesn't. At night, you'd be hard pressed to tell it apart from a regular 220i. There are more problems too. You'll be fine coughing up the cash for an M235i because it's great, until an M2 pulls up next to you on a set of lights, after which you'd have to kill yourself.
This is precisely why I very much prefer the M135i as a 5-door hatchback. There is no full-blown M version of that car. If I get one of those, I'll never look like my bank account couldn't handle paying for an M2. I would be king of the 1 Series kingdom. Also, I think it's a lot more handsome too with a more aggressive front fascia and a much better looking arse that screams BMW. Then again, beauty is in the eye of the beholder and some may just prefer this one. Annoyingly so, in this black paint job that we have here, it manages to look even more like every other car in traffic - which of course, as I realized later on, it absolutely isn't.
"You can have almost any car pull up next to you in a set of lights, and as soon as the light turns green, they're immediately in another zip code."
You see, while everyone may think that you are driving a little BMW coupé to make up for your small member or your unparalleled lack of game, they are completely unaware that you aren't packing an engine under the hood, but a full-blown German atomic bomb. This little Bimmer actually has 321 German horses that are ready to run. Power is supplied to the rear wheels by a 3-liter TwinPower Turbo engine in BMW's legendary inline configuration.
"Believe me it is a world of ecstasy. It is balanced, alert, controllable, and addicting."
It is simply sublime. It has a great 8-speed sport automatic transmission too, which helps launch the car from 0-100 km/h in 4.8 seconds. Surely, it isn't a dual clutch, but at least when you're pottering around town, you can just leave it in drive without jerking like a mad man. Top speed is, well you guessed it, an electronically limited 250 km/h. However, it is really the rate at which you can grace its top speed that baffles the mind. It's relentless and it isn't even an M2.
Like most BMWs today there's a Driving Experience Control rocker switch, which allows you to choose between four driving modes. When you start the car, its default setting is always Comfort. There's also ECO PRO, which is irrelevant with a car like this. In this setting, everything is slow and cumbersome. The car feels heavy, the responsiveness of the throttle is lethargic, and the engine dies more frequently when you come to a halt. Thanks to the auto start-stop feature that I always forget to kill. It's useless. Where you really want to be in is Sport. In Sport mode, the drivetrain and the chassis are fully on it. This means that the throttle, engine, transmission, suspension, and steering are its most performance oriented setting. It's lovely and alive.
This is where you hear more from its popping exhaust as well, which I must say is pretty damn good. If you fiddle with the iDrive, you can configure Sport mode to only have either the drivetrain or the chassis on its maximum setting. Some of you may want the heavier weighted steering without the angry engine setting. Finally, there's Sport + mode which is exactly the same as Sport, but with the traction control off and a very lenient vehicle stability control system. This allows you to get up close and personal with its engineering brilliance. Holding the traction control button down for 3 seconds doesn't just give you a closer look - it gets you in bed with it. You are on your own, but believe me it is a world of ecstasy. It is balanced, alert, controllable, and addicting.
A lovely Endorphin Booster.
There is so much performance that you can extract from this car, yet most people don't even give it a second glance. Maybe it's the color, but nonetheless it's a genuine sleeper. You can have almost any car pull up next to you in a set of lights, and as soon as the light turns green, you're immediately in another zip code. It does this without much of a fuss either. It's just so effortless and natural. Apart from my views of having an M135i or an M2, I'm quite hard pressed to find anything wrong with it. As a sports car proposition, it is excellent.
If I could have it my way, I would have it with a 6-speed manual gearbox. I'm sure that with a proper stick, it will feel significantly more connected and even more entertaining to drive. Also, at almost 5 million pesos, I would like them to throw in the bigger Navigation System Professional screen and the Harman Kardon stereo system. This car also needs Park Distance Control sensors up front because the nose is quite low, and you wouldn't want to scrape that. Oh, and iDrive is still by 95875786 miles the best on-board computer system in any car on sale today. #justsaying
Really though, when I start talking about what options I want to see in this car, it's really just because I want it all. The truth is, once you start driving it, all of those things don't matter. It is so captivating and delicate to drive that I cannot imagine how stupendously good it will be with a manual gearbox. And yes, you may call it a "poor man's M2", but really, if you've ever owned a full-blown M car before, you'd know more than anyone else that its running cost is what makes you poor.
The M235i is a great compromise. You get genuine M performance without the hardcore savagery of a full-blown M car. You don't need a track to exploit its capabilities because it seems to live happily on our roads. It has the power to humiliate others, it can take on corners much tighter than you ever can, and its suspension won't send you to the chiropractor tomorrow. This means that you can practically drive it as fast and as far as your heart desires - and you know what, I could do that forever.
It is M-gineering Brilliance.