BMW M235i xDrive review: hands-on

Posted: 12 November 2020 3:43 pm
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BMW M235i Review

BMW’s bite-sized M Sport 4-door Gran Coupé reviewed

Representing BMW’s first crack at the small 4-door coupe market, the 2 series Gran Coupés take aim at the Mercedes-AMG CLA45 and Audi A3 Sedan. The vehicle you are looking at here is the top-of-the-line BMW M235i Gran Coupé. Not only does it wear M-branded upgrades, it also features the xDrive system sending power to all four wheels.

Prices start at $69,990 for the M-series but there is also a 218i model available that is a bit more wallet-friendly, starting at $47,990.

Before we get on with this review, it is worth noting that you should stay tuned as we will have a review on the 218i shortly, and will be able to conclusively tell you where our money would go!

What’s the BMW M235i like inside?

The interior is distinctly BMW and it now seems to be almost uniform across the entire range. 

As always, you get a high standard of fit and finish throughout the cabin, with the headline being BMW’s well-known dash layout, as well as the iDrive system sitting atop your climate control system. An infotainment display measures 10.25 inches and while there is the normal iDrive rotary dial control, it’s also touch-enabled.

The system comes fitted with Apple Carplay – no Android yet, but BMW says it’s incoming. The 16-speaker Harman Kardon sound system is a strong performer. In fact, there are more speakers in this car than in my entire house.

Ambient lighting around the cabin is a bit of a novelty too, with six selectable colours – it helps light the cabin up without being too distracting.

Behind the leather wrapped steering wheel, (which is heated as the “Comfort Package” option was checked when they bolted this one together), sits another digital screen measuring 10.25 inches. It pairs up with a crystal clear head-up display projecting all sorts of information on to the windshield to keep you updated.

Now, for a smaller vehicle, there is a decent amount of legroom in the back, but not enough for anyone above six-feet to be all that comfortable. With the driver's seat in my driving position, my knees needed to go either side of the seat back, with my right knee squished in between the door trim and driver’s seat.

BMW M235i xDrive Interior review

And while you would opt for a larger vehicle if you had older kids, if one of my mates showed up in this and I knew I’d have to sit in the back, I wouldn’t be too happy about it.

Our test vehicle came fitted with the sunroof too which didn’t help things as it does impact on  headroom. But if you are only carting around kids in the back, then you should be fine.

What’s it like to drive?

The M235i reviewed here received BMW’s xDrive system, with power being sent to all wheels with impressive results.

It is matched up with a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbocharged engine which puts out 225KW of power and 450Nm of torque. The M235i has a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission which shifts smoothly and when driven with a bit more enthusiasm, produces a solid thud and crack on upshifts. 

4.9 seconds to 100 km/h is the end product and it will do it with little wheel-spin too. It is actually the most powerful 2-litre, 4-pot the German brand has produced to date.

There is a nice exhaust note produced by the powerplant too, which will emit the occasional crackle on startup and on shifts.

You’ll get to enjoy all of this from a nice driving position. Slung down low and with the peace of mind knowing that the xDrive system is controlling power to each wheel, you get a good sense of confidence going in and out of corners.

Steering is light and lacks some feeling, but for the average punter around the city, where the vast majority of these will reside, it’s not going to be noticeable. On the plus side, light steering mixed with a range of parking sensors and good resolution reversing camera means it is a cinch to park in tight spaces.

BMW M235i xDrive review

Having the M-package fitted to it means that you get upgraded to downsized, 18-inch wheels from the standard 19s which helps to soften up the ride a bit.

What extras are fitted to this M235i?

M Performance package – $2,200

  • Kidney grille frame and mesh in black high-gloss
  • Mirror caps finished in black
  • Tailpipes finished in black
  • 18-inch M light alloy wheels V-spoke style 554M, forged

Comfort package – $1,200

  • Seat heating for driver and front passenger
  • Lumbar support for driver and front passenger
  • Steering wheel heating

Enhancement package – $3,770

  • Metallic paintwork
  • Panoramic glass roof
  • Active cruise control with stop and go function

What safety features are fitted to the BMW M235i xDrive?

While the BMW M235i Gran Coupé has a strong safety offering, it is a little disappointing to see that full AEB (autonomous emergency braking) is only an option on a $69,000+ car. 

With the standard system, the M235i Gran Coupé will warn you and slow you, but it won’t bring you to a halt, even if that is needed.

If you tick the $850 option for the AEB, you will also get adaptive cruise control which, arguably, should be standard on a vehicle at this price. Or you can go a step further and order the enhancement pack for $3,770.

BMW M235i Review

Moving on from the above, you get six airbags to protect you and your passengers including curtain airbags across both rows as well as head and side airbags for those in the front.

Other safety features include:

  • Driving assistant
    • Approach control warning
    • Lane departure warning
    • Pedestrian warning
    • Light city braking function and attentiveness assistant
  • Front and rear parking sensors
  • Rear view camera  
  • Cruise control
  • Run flat tyres
  • Intelligent emergency call
  • Speed sign recognition and information

How practical is the BMW M235i xDrive?

Apart from the rear legroom issue we mentioned (which may or may not be an issue depending on who you are regularly carting around), the M235i is decently practical.

There are cup holders for all passengers and door storage, as well as USB-C charging points for rear passengers.

The rear row also features ISOFix mounting points on the two outboard seats.

BMW M235i boot space 

Boot space on the BMW M235i measures a decent 430-litres. 

How does this compare to competitors you may ask? Well, the Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 offers up more room with 460-litres, while the Beemer edges the Audi A3 sedan, which has 425-litres of storage space.

The verdict

While the BMW M235i xDrive is a sharp, sporty little Gran Coupé, buying one is really going to come down to personal preference. If you are specifically after a smaller vehicle with plenty of punch, then this fits the bill. However, it is hard to look past the value of the BMW 330i Touring M-Sport we reviewed a little while back which offers up more storage space, room for passengers and some decent performance to boot.

Bookmark our car reviews page and check back shortly, as we have plenty of car reviews coming, including the 218i.

Want to read more car reviews? Check out our car reviews section, or, if you already know what you are after, it might be worth comparing car loan options as well as car insurance to see how much you could save..

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