Growing up, cars was always my passion. From a very young age I would spend countless hours looking at car adverts trying to figure out what I would buy if I had the money. The only issue was that I didn't and was therefore always forced to make a "smart" purchase, which usually left me miserable.
So you can imagine my excitement when I turned 26 and could finally justify spending $40,000 on a car. There were many options, and a lot of thinking went into picking the BMW M235i. I wanted a driving experience, something with sophisticated engineering and dynamic abilities but also something that was practical, fuel efficient and was easily able to commute on a daily basis, as I couldn't afford two cars. It also had to be fast, very fast, otherwise I why spend that kind of money?
My toss up (for that price range) was between the M235i, Audi S3, Golf R, Ford Focus RS and I was possibly looking at the A45 AMG. The Audi was practical and the interior was high quality, but the all-wheel (mainly front-wheel) drive feature didn't suit. The Golf R was a solid all-rounder but I don't like how common they are, and considering it has the same driveline as an S3 there was no sense of that "special" feeling. The Focus RS was too rough to live with everyday and a manual gearbox was not a preference. The A45 was slightly more expensive with higher kilometres, and again was front-wheel drive.
When I looked at the BMW, and after watching multiple reviews, I had learned that this model was likened to the famous E46 M3. Like, how could you ignore such a comparison? All I did was drive the M235i once and I was done. It had a huge 6-cylinder, 3-litre N55 engine - same engine you'll find in an M2 although it is detuned, an 8-speed ZF gearbox, it's rear wheel drive,
perfectly balanced, it has high performance brakes, and it's a coupe (I personally love this aspect). It's also got excellent handling, the suspension in comfort mode is excellent (the different modes bring an exhilarating difference to the cars behaviour), the steering is perfectly weighted (considering it’s electric) but becomes heavier as you race through the modes. It's very fuel efficient for a performance coupe, it looks amazing, the infotainment is advanced (although does have its issues), it can actually fit 4 adults if required and it's not too low so it doesn't compromise on daily comfort - but is low enough to throw around corners with complete sureness.
The list of positives is endless for this model, but it isn't without its faults and there are a few. For starters;
- the Bluetooth connectivity could be better - when it works, it works well but sometimes after phone calls or when I start the car it will not continue playing music and I'll have to disconnect and reconnect.
- the startup tones are annoying as all hell.
- stop-start function should be automatically off on startup.
- the brakes are overly grabby at low speeds.
- Harmon Kardon Sound system would have been nice.
- the exhaust note could have been louder, although this can obviously be changed.
- it looks significantly less muscular than the M2.
All in all, if you are looking for fun, practicality, style, a proper driving experience, value for money in the european market, I can't think of a better fit than the M235i.