Fiery little customer which has power to burn
Rorty sounds emanating from the exhaust dictate this is something special.
The 2 Series Gran Coupe is a new addition to the BMW stable this year, offering prestige in a compact sedan package.
Less potency is available via the 218i, but for those with a penchant for performance and an extra $24,500 there’s the M235i at about $80,000 drive-away.
Cool gear like a body kit, 10.25-inch digital dash and 10.25-inch central infotainment screen with satnav and Apple CarPlay (Android Auto is expected later this year), plus wireless phone charging and six-speaker audio system with digital radio is standard on Gran Coupe models.
The M235i also gains leather trim, 19-inch alloys, rear spoiler, dual exhaust pipes, 16-speaker Harman/Kardon system, sports front seats and a feisty turbocharged four-cylinder engine.
Service inclusive packages are the least expensive in the BMW range, with $1550 covering five years or 80,000km.
Various wheel options are available, while metallic paint costs between $1700–$2350, with the only complimentary colour white. Other options are black, red, grey, blue and light grey. Inside, and the no-cost alternative to black is a combination of red with grey highlights.
Warranty coverage is short at only three years — Mercedes and Land Rover offer five.
Sharing specification with the base model, little changes in this realm. Improved brakes are the primary addition as well as LED headlights with auto high beam. The M235i maintains the driving assistant tech of lane departure and change warning to avoid sideswiping other vehicles, while autonomous emergency braking can help stop the Gran Coupe or reduce the impact of a collision when travelling forwards and in reverse.
Other standard kit is a head-up display and parking assistance with rear view camera along with front and back sensors.
Five adults on a road trip. The challenge doesn’t come much greater.
Remember this is a compact sedan, three across the bench seat was a tight fit. No chance of social distancing on this occasion.
Two is a far more welcoming proposition, although the swooping roofline requires some ducking and weaving during entry and exit, while those in the front need to shift forward to allow adequate leg and knee room.
Rear seat occupants also have to go without air vents. But tech-savvy travellers will appreciate the two USB C ports.
The ride is firm and it has to be remembered this is a sporting variant. Railway lines, bumps and lumps are felt through the cabin — keen drivers quickly forgive that for cornering ability.
Operationally the BMW infotainment system can be difficult to navigate during initial introductions. Following some tuition it becomes easier, but using the smartphone mirroring applications makes things simpler.
Boasting the same turbocharged four-cylinder engine as found in the M135i hatch, it packs some serious punch.
Hit the start button and it barks fiery intentions from the dual exhaust pipes and sends a wonderfully sporty soundtrack when under power.
Partnered to an eight-speed automatic transmission the shifts are timely, although pull on the steering wheel paddles and the driver can make the most of its ability.
Various driving modes are available via console buttons and ‘sport’ delivers the most aggressive in terms of acceleration and gear changes responses.
Possessing all-wheel drive, it relishes changes in direction and even performed surprisingly well with five on board.
Generous boot space means grocery trips are handled with ease, while the ability to easily change interior lighting will impress friends.
The official fuel consumption figure from BMW is 7.6 litres for every 100km, but we achieved more than 10 — perhaps that’s an indication of enthusiastic testing.
Four frameless doors and a bigger boot give me greater on-road presence, while that turbo four-potter is a little belter.
Size matters and this is not far from the 3 Series of old. Back seat passengers are a rarity and the notchback has greater regal appeal than a hatch.
Some may find it a tough call, given the beautifully balanced and slightly larger BMW 330i requires less than $2000 more. It remains a big investment for a small car, yet it remains fun and rewarding for the keen steerer.
AT A GLANCE
BMW M235I xDrive Gran Coupe
PRICE $79,220 drive-away
WARRANTY/SERVICE 3 years/unlimited km, $1550 for 5 years
SAFETY Not tested, 6 airbags, AEB, blind spot and lane departure alert, rear cross-traffic alert
ENGINE 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbo, 225kW/450Nm
SPARE None; inflation kit