Unveiled in 2014, BMW’s new numbering system means that the 2 Series replaced the 1 Series coupe range, and it has been a welcome return to form for the brand in this sector. While the scintillating new M2 has just been released, there has always been an M Performance option within the range in the form of the very capable M235i. The M Performance cars bridge the gap to the fully fledged M versions, offering a good dose of extra performance while still being geared towards those who intend to use them as daily drivers.
The M235i shares its 3.0-litre turbocharged straight six engine with the M135i, and produces a class leading 322bhp. With rear-wheel drive and that unique coupe body shell the M235i finds itself in a niche of its own making. The majority of its price/performance rivals being front-wheel drive four-cylinder hatchbacks, this little BMW remains a coupe with a difference. While it’s still relatively new, the M240i has just replaced it, making now a great time to look at a well-priced used purchase.
Which one to buy?
There is only one drivetrain option – the four-wheel drive X-drive versions not being made available in the UK – so your biggest decision is choosing between the six-speed manual and eight-speed automatic. Both are great, and with the auto ‘box being so smooth, it’s hard not to recommend it if your commute involves sitting in traffic. Manual cars are definitely the rarer find, and offer that extra level of interaction at the expense of a few tenths off the 0-60mph sprint times. A convertible version is also available but structural rigidity is compromised for the chance to soak up the sun.
Standard equipment is not overly generous and many new cars would have been specced up, so it’s worth looking for one that has some additional extras. Comfort access, cruise control, upgraded Nav and higher spec sound systems are nice-to-haves although a must have for enthusiasts looking to get in some track days is the optional limited slip diff. The M sport suspension helps firm up the ride while actually improving bump absorption over road undulations. Sports seats provide greater support in the corners but the standard units are perfect for every day driving.
New BMWs are available with a Service Inclusive or Service Inclusive Plus plan, which cover basic servicing for the first five years or 50,000 miles, this is transferrable between owners and all M235is should still be covered by these plans if specified when purchased new.
There are plenty of cars out there and prices should dip a bit with the introduction of the M240i in mid-2016 so be picky and watch out for cars that have been abused by boy racers.
Performance and specs
BMW M235i Coupe
Engine 2979cc 24valve DOHC in-line six-cylinder
Power 322bhp @ 5800-6000rpm
Torque 332lb ft @ 1400-4500rpm
Top speed 155mph (Limited)
0-62mph 5.0 seconds
Fuel consumption 35.3mpg
CO2 emissions 176g/km
Insurance group 39
Gearbox Six-speed manual/Eight-speed automatic
Dimensions and weight
Curb weight 1603kg
• With the M235i being so new, there have not been many reports of recurring issues. The basic running gear has been used in many other BMW ranges and has proven largely reliable thus far.
• The 3.0-litre engine is the N55 single turbo unit in the M235i and has been used in a number of other BMW products without any apparent issues. Oil consumption can rise with spirited driving so keep an eye out for any dashboard warnings
• Unlike front wheel drive performance cars the tyres on the rear driven M235i tend to wear out far quicker at the rear, rear brake pads also tend to wear out quickly under enthusiastic driving and this is due to the traction control system using them to stabilise the car.
• Modifications on these cars tend to be limited to ECU flashing, while the engine can handle a lot more power the mods may invalidate your warranty and the added power can put extra strain on the running gear over time.
• Front brakes are well up to the task of stopping the car so look out for any brake juddering which could indicate warped disks as this and wear on the outside edge of the front tyres could indicate abuse.
2014: M235i introduced with N55 twin power 322bhp turbocharged inline six cylinder engine. Available in Coupe or Convertible body styles with either a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmission. LSD available as a factory fitted extra
2016: Facelifted M240i replaces M235i
Owners clubs, forums and websites
www.bmwcarclubgb.uk - BMW UK Car Club site, great for model info
www.bmw.co.uk – Official BMW UK website
www.babybmw.net - Forum for 1 and 2 series BMWs
Summary and prices
The M240i has just been launched, and while it offers incremental improvements over the M235i, a new one will cost around £40,000 once you have optioned in a few extras. In that light, the starting price of £24,000 for a well specced 2014 M235i seems to be a great deal in comparison – especially if you find one with the optional servicing plan. Even nearly new 2016 cars are trading for around £33,000. Convertibles are priced similarly and most cars are equipped with the eight-speed auto, so you will need to look hard if a manual is your preference.
The M235i has proven itself to be one of BMW’s most successful models in recent history. It adds just the right amount of M performance to an already competent package to ensure that it will remain a desirable second hand purchase for years to come.
Words: John Tallodi