Favorite car? Best sports-car? I am running out of superlative awards here - but the points made in the above video are all certainly still felt by me today.
The above film is actually pretty watch-able, with some great insights after hopping right in the M235i and doing a lap of Road America right after doing the same in the 2014 M5.
Truth be told, for a relative new-comer to the huge-power BMW and sportscar arena, the M235i felt a little more my speed. It was more forgiving on the track, and at the same time friskier and more playful. But as you might imagine, the most astounding sense when comparing the M5 and the M235i is that the little champ can compete at all.
TRACK DRIVING EXPERIENCE
Truly, the M235i sounds outstanding - especially versus the 435i convertible driven around the same track and the same roads. Watch the first ten seconds of the video above if you are skeptical...
The 435i has a much more muted approach from the engine bay, as well as hardly any straight-six howl coming out the back. It is far more refined than the M235i, where sound and proximity to the action are concerned.
This is not to say that the M235i is harsh. It just makes you feel much more connected to the big engine up front. Where the 435i and the M5 feel like they have just about the right sized engine for the mass and scale of the vehicle, the M235i has that amazingly over-engined feel.
It has gobs of power all over the rev range, and feels just as rapid as its approximately 4.7-second sprint to 60-mph time suggests. But this belies how much actual power the M235i has everywhere, at just a nudge of the throttle.
The straight-six is a gem. A marvellous companion all the time - fast, zingy and full of torque everywhere that the CLA45 AMG falls flat and full of turbo lag.
The M235i is also outrageously rear-drive in all its dance moves. It wants to play.
And play along, you shall -- this car might not be quite as quick on the Nurburgring as the new M4 and M5, but the driver will have alot more fun around those 12.98 miles of tarmac.
Similarly, the M235i came to life in my hands the moment it started up. The compact and low dashboard reminds you that this is a smaller BMW than the M5 right away, but overall the tech suite and usefulness of the excellent driving position are clearly from the same school of thought.
Where the drive experience and cabin are just a click or two better and more exciting than the already-stellar 235i, the M235i brings that extra bit of aggression to the exterior as well. The lower front bumper is a wonderful intersecting swirl of air ductwork and chin splitters, far deeper and more exciting in appearance than the humble 228i Luxury that appears below in white.
Out back, the rear bumper has a few extra vertical slats and aggressive sculpts -- but it is subtle.
Overwhelming the new styling details are the classic rear-drive proportions we have all come to love about BMW coupes. The M235i holds the same footprint and scale in your hands as the first and second-gen M3 Coupes -- and in fact might be closer in spirit to these as well.
The new M4 is sure to be a serious beast. One that will have the same intensity and slight lack of humor on the track as the M5 showed. The M5 was there to hit big speeds, hit apexes hard, and nail lap times. In its focus, it does lose a bit of the joy that a rear-drive supercar or sports coupe should embody.
Luckily, the M235i is not only far cheaper than the M5 (half the price, in fact...) and the new M4, but it is a cool $10,000 less than the dull and non-event that is the CLA45 AMG on the track.
The biggest threats to the M235i are the forthcoming Audi S3 sedan, or perhaps even the new Mustang GT. There just are not that many cars as rear-drive, powerful, but as compact as the M235i.
This unique position earns the 2014 BMW M235i the best award yet:
Most Fun and Best-Sounding Junior Supercar... EVER!
The 2014 M235i is on sale now at BMW dealers nationwide. The 320-horsepower machine retains from $43,000.
The best part of the new 2 series package is that much of this praise also applies to the 228i M Sport, which is priced just above $32,000. A true joyride of a sports coupe in either engine - and still mighty handsome with the M Sport kit on the 228i.
2014 BMW 228i M Sport