While the M3 becomes the M4 and marches closer to supercar performance and pricing, some would argue that it has lost the link to the heritage of the M3, a lightweight, compact and adjustable rear wheel drive car. The original BMW M3 from the 80s started the historic lineage, and with the announcement of the M235i, this is where the lineage continues.
Following on from the 1M, the M235i is a 326bhp, 3.0 litre straight six twin turbo, rear wheel drive performance machine. As the 1M and M135i proved, there is still a large market for compact M performance cars. 0-60mph will arrive in 4.8 seconds with the ZF 8 speed automatic and Launch Control activated. A six speed manual is also available which is claimed to do the same sprint in 5 seconds dead. Despite these super quick headline performance figures, the car is claimed to return 34.9mpg and emit just 179 g/km of carbon.
Differences from the standard 2 series coupe include M styling to the exterior to improve aerodynamic effectiveness, revised suspension, braking and variable sport steering to ensure it feels more connected to the road and track.
The M235i will come with 18 inch alloys wheels with 225/40 R18 at the front and 245/35 R18 at the rear. 19 inch forged wheels are also available as an option. Most will likely be specced with the larger 19 inch wheels, the fact that they are forged wheels may negate the handling difference between the two sizes.
Interestingly, the performance on the track is held back due to the lack of a limited slip differential, presumably to create a clear distinction between the M-Performance cars (M235i, M135i) and the M-Power cars (M3, M4, M5, M6). It is possible to specify a M Performance Limited Slip Differential and even retrofit to existing cars, so it is possible to raise the bar in handling performance for enthusiastic drivers. The car is expected in the UK with a price of around £40,000 in March 2014. We think it will follow on from the success of the M135i and be a big seller amongst enthusiasts.
Words by Raj Hunjan