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2014 BMW M235i Lovely Growl>

The 2014 BMW M235i was just coming to market in mid-March when I had the opportunity to drive this sweet rear-wheel-drive two-door coupe throughout central Florida. Looking lithe and athletic (as expected), the Melbourne red metallic machine (on black) has a lovely growl as she spit from the parking lot out into Orlando traffic. We were headed to Sebring for three days of sports car racing, then up the road to Gainesville and a single afternoon of NHRA eliminations.

The 2-Series coupe replaces the 1-Series and is a bit wider and longer than that machine, with gains in both trunk and usable interior space. Much the size of the original 3-Series that debuted in 1977, the dimensions of this car are exemplary and appealing, as are its high-quality materials, attractive interior – and gorgeous exterior – design and desirable functionality.
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This BMW M235i was a perfect partner for a 500-plus-mile trip, with plenty of space for the two of us; Leah the hearing dog found the passenger seat quite welcoming and I was pleased to see that she, like I, had full power. The driver has two memory settings. Neither of us was terribly excited by the audio system, which was a simple HD AM/FM with CD; no satellite or Pandora available and, despite a long search, I never did find a USB plug to connect the iPhone and listen to my own music.

So we listened to the exhaust and that was just fine as the melody of the 3-liter, inline intercooled turbocharged 6-cylinder that emits 320 horsepower at 5800 rpm and 330 lb-ft of torque at 1400 was just the tune worth listening to. BMW equips this machine with an 8-speed sequential gearbox that matches revs on downshifts and is perfectly suited for sustained holds. There’s a stop-start function on all 2-Series coupes (a 228i is also available) that shuts off the engine to save fuel when the car is stopped.
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There are four driving modes for this M235i coupe. BMW has a comfort mode, an Eco mode (that absolutely saps power), sport 1 and sport 2. The latter is best for track days or for jaunts on good windy roads, of which central Florida has relatively few. Also, when driving a red car, it’s best to be a bit circumspect, so we kept this machine in either comfort (for freeway rides) or in sport 1 to go between the Sebring track and the lovely home where we were staying.

The paddle shifters on this BMW allow right-now decisions on shifting and with the extremely strong acceleration of this car, it matches the feel and response of the old 1-Series M coupe. The sport suspension, fine-tuned steering and superior brakes of the M235i bring out the best in a good driver and reward such an operator with superb experiences over the road. Does it have the in-your-face abilities of the M3? Well, not really, but it’s a heck of a lot more tractable in everyday use, for which I thank BMW.

BMW’s iDrive infotainment system still takes some getting used to and without a true operator’s book in the large glovebox, there just wasn’t time to sit and learn all about it. In fact, I never did figure out how to work the trip odometer so wasn’t able to discern the mileage we achieved on this car. It’s rated at 22/36/32 from the 13.7-gallon tank and premium fuel is a must. The trip computer said we were getting around 33-34 over the road and I’ll trust it’s right as the car had very few miles on it.
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There’s a nice 6-inch screen for information, but without navigation, it’s really not all that necessary – but it is easy to see. Other items that got to me are the difficulty pairing my iPhone and the lack of a “cancel” command for the excellent cruise control; with the latter, I just changed the speed on the cruise to what was necessary for the time with simple thumb movement.

While space is a bit cramped in the rear seat, anyone back there will have their own vents; there’s a nice bi-fold to the back seats that amplify the trunk’s 13.7-cubic-foot capabilities. The trunk has nets and tie-downs to stop items from moving when an enthusiastic driver gets into the office – but my suitcase swung side to side throughout the long trip and was the “bass” accompanying the exhaust’s tenor.

There was no window sticker included with this vehicle, but it doesn’t appear to have any options, so list price would be $44,025 including freight. That does include a two-way sunroof and the wonderful sport seats that kept us in comfort and helped immensely during cornering exercises.
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It’s hard not to get excited by a small, capable, beautifully constructed and aesthetically appealing car like the BMW M235i as it excels in so many ways over the road. BMW continues to make some of the best cars to physically drive and cars that reward the driver when operated properly. This is the latest pantheon in BMW’s repertoire and it’s bound to be a success.

Words and photos by Anne Proffit