BMW M235i Coupe

BMW M235i, front
BMW M235i, rear
BMW M235i, rear, action
BMW M235i, interior

IF ever there were a junior supercar it's this...the BMW M235i.

The neat, diminutive coupe with scalloped lines and unmistakable double-kidney grille packs such punch it can keep up with Porsche Cayman S and trounce a standard Boxster in any shoot out from the traffic lights.

With 322bhp available under your size nines, it's hardly surprising the two-door, four-seater lights up the Tarmac with a five second dash to 62mph and a max of an electronically limited 155mph.

But better than the actual cold figures is the style with which the baby Beamer delivers its punch. There's a balance and a coordination about its handling and feel that is absent in so many high performance cars, including some more costly BMW stablemates.

The M235i was developed by the same BMW sub-division that is responsible for the awesome M4, M3 and M5, although it doesn't earn the ultimate M credentials. The full fat M2 is yet to take its bow. But for a relatively reasonable £35,000 you get lightning acceleration, finely tuned handling and quite acceptable economy in a package roomy enough for family outings or everyday business trips.

The 2 Series models are effectively replacements for the rather awkward looking 1 Series Coupe. With an overall length some 72mm greater, the lines are more fluent and pleasing to the eye and extra rear legroom has been added. Track is increased by more than 40mm benefiting handling and making the Coupe look more purposeful.

Under the bonnet of the M235i is a six cylinder, 3.0-litre turbo engine that's linked to either a six-speed manual gearbox or an eight-speed auto transmission. With rear drive and balanced weight distribution, the ingredients look good for a serious driving machine.

And it doesn't disappoint on the road. There's an amazing amount of grip available, so much so that at normal speeds in the dry, the nose merely goes exactly where it's pointed, even with the DSC stability system switched off. The steering offers greater feedback than most BMWs boosting driver satisfaction and confidence.

The manual change on this car was quick and slick with well spaced ratios that allow you to squeeze the most out of the straight six engine. A rorty snarl from the exhausts accompanies its progress. It's not as harmonious as an M4, but then the fuel bills are considerably lower...

On the economy front, the M235i acquits itself admirably with an official combined figure of 34mpg and emissions of just 189g/km. In every day driving the low 30s are quite accessible. But push it hard on your favourite road and the average will drop to the low 20s.

The cabin is typical BMW with big bold dials, well-made, solid switchgear and an abundance of black leather and sombre heavy plastic mouldings. There's an impression of durability if a slight lack of styling flair or excitement. The M Sport leather steering wheel is a classy touch, however.

A large 8.8-inch screen accompanies the Professional Multimedia system and dominates the central dash. It works well and is easy enough to use. The rear seats are a bit difficult to access, but once seated there's ample space for two both in terms of legroom and shoulder space.

By sports car standards, the 390litre boot is respectable and larger than most rivals. If you need more space, the rear seat backrests flip down to extend the capacity.

FAST FACTS

BMW M235i Coupe

Price: £34,540

Mechanical: 322bhp, 2,979cc 6-cyl petrol engine driving rear wheels via 6-speed manual gearbox

Max Speed: 155mph

0-62mph: 5.0secs

Combined MPG:34.9

Insurance Group: 39

C02 emissions: 189g/km

Bik rating: 32%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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