A couple of weeks back I concluded my road test of the BMW M850i xDrive Gran Coupe by writing that I had fallen in love it. But, costing close to $300,000 on the road, it was way out of my reach. Now I’ve tested its little brother, the BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupe.

Did I fall in love with it and its price tag that starts at just $72,990 plus on-roads and decide to buy one? Wait till the end of this review to find out…

Designing a sports coupe with the convenience of four doors isn’t easy and the smaller the car, the harder it is.

So the M235i doesn’t have the lovely long sleek shape of the M850i. But has a lovely streamlined look that tapers nicely to a relatively short tail. It’s taller at the rear than purists would like, but if you’re going to have back seats that’s hard to avoid.

The BMW twin radiator grills are lower than usual, but that’s balanced out nicely by the large sub grilles.

The front seats are sports items and provide good side support. They aren’t as low as you might expect and I found getting my ageing body in and out less of a problem than in a pure two-door sport

Space is somewhat cramped in the back and tall folks may come closer to the ceiling than they like. They might also have to come to an agreement with the people in front on legroom and keen space.

That’s more than balanced out by the fact that those in the rear don’t have to contort their way through the front doors.

Genuine leather trim is to a high standard and really does give the feeling you’re riding in significantly more expensive car. The M235i xDrive has, of course, M Sport seats including electric adjustment on the fronts.

We loved the sound quality of the Harman Kardon 16-speaker sound in our test car. Designers of cars and sound systems are working closely with one another to produce pretty good musical output. You’re not going to mistake it for your upmarket sound system at home, though.

The twin 10.25-inch dashboard and infotainment screens look great. BMW’s Connected Package Professional has the 7.0-version operating and the new version is lighting fast and generally intuitive.

Power for the M235i xDrive comes from a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder unit that produces up to 225kW. Torque is 450Nm over a great spread from 1750 to 4500 revs.

The torque convertor automatic transmission has eight forward ratios and can be controlled by paddle shifters.

The xDrive in the Gran Coupe’s title signifies it has all-wheel-drive, which is virtually vital, given the big torque outputs and the fact that keen drivers love to take their Bimmer to the max when the mood takes them.

Features to help avoiding a crash include Driving Assistant with Lane Departure Warning, Lane Change Warning, Approach Control Warning with city-braking intervention, Rear Cross Traffic Warning, and Rear Collision Prevention.

Should you still crash for whatever reason the BMW has a full set of aids to prevent death, reduce injuries, or simply walk away from what could have been life-threatening a few car generations back.

Zero to 100 km/h time is a pretty quick 4.9 seconds. However, at 2.0 litres it’s a relatively small unit and it can take more time to wind up for maximum acceleration. Once it is on boost, it’s a joy to sit behind, with fast reaction to your right foot. You may want to run it one gear down to get even more pleasure when you’re in fanging mode.

Handling is everything we have to come to love in all BMWs over many years. That’s further enhanced by the fact that you have drive through all four wheels to give even more traction in bends.

Reaction to your commands through the steering wheel are immediate and the wheel talks back to you so that you and the car become a team.

Comfort is pretty good, but there are times on bumpy roads, or on concrete freeway when you know you’re in a car that leans slightly in the handling side of the comfort / handling compromise.

Ride quality and in-cabin sound can be knocked about on coarse-chip surfaces so make that type of road part of your pre-purchase test route. Any good sales person will be happy to oblige with this.

It’s not really the kind of car you would plan to take on dirt roads, but we found the little coupe delighted in the handling we asked from it – and better than we expected for comfort.

The BMW M235i xDrive is delightful to drive, has a brilliant engine once it’s on song, though it should be better in its immediate response. It’s smallish inside but okay for this class.

Would I buy one? No – I will continue to invest in lottery tickets and hopefully get into the driving seat of an M850i xDrive Gran Coupe…


Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local BMW dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (BMW M235i Gran Coupe 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-door coupe)

Capacity: 1.998 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 225 kW @ 5000 rpm
Maximum Torque: 450 Nm @ 1750 rpm
Fuel Type: Premium unleaded
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 7.6 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 173 g/km

DRIVELINE: Eight-speed automatic

Length: 4526 mm
Wheelbase: 2670 mm
Width: 1800 mm
Height: 1420 mm
Turning Circle: 11.4 metres
Kerb Mass: 1540 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: litres

Front: Ventilated disc
Rear: Ventilated disc

Three years / unlimited kilometres

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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