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      05-03-2014, 05:26 PM   #1
ozinaldo
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1M owner's M235i test drive-LONG WRITE UP!

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Hi fellas, got the chance to see and test drive the M235i today after missing the opportunity of a test drive on the hatch M135i which arrived here a year ago. Had no camera with me and cell phone's is not working so sorry but no new photos here.

I have some free time so will share what is passing on my mind. First of, for readers that are not familiar with me, my car and my intentions of test driving one: a 1M owner who loves the car, mostly thinking of a F80 M3 as a possible next car, would love to keep the 1M but won't happen for reasons that were well explained before in other threads. My careful and relatively conservative mods are mostly listed in my sig.

One by one:

Design: First checked out a Melbourne Red M235i which was the show car and then did a test drive with a metallic grey one, both equipped with 8 speed auto and adaptive suspension; interior of both cars were with cloth/Alcantara available outside US/NA market as far as I know. For some unexplainable reason Chilean M135i and M235i both come with Bridgestone run-flats which is really a let down.

Getting out from a 1M and looking at a M235i first thing you notice is it is bigger, longer with a nice, classical coupe shape. I liked the overall shape of the car and thought that it is mostly a clean design (rear as a big exception) which certain details could be fixed by easy mods like installing M Performance cf bits. Did not like anything about the rear though, I think it doesn't fit well and either looks blunt or out of proportion depending on how you like to name it. The side view on the other hand is pretty well done, small dislikes I had were the gunmetal-ish color of the wheels and mirror caps plus the blue color of the calipers on a red car, all looked pretty cheap and juvenile to my eyes but easily fixable too. Also, M logos at the sides do not seem to belong there, pretty small and weird, if I would own one I would take them out for a cleaner look. Front was looking better than the photos imo and I thought especially headlights are a clear improvement over E82 LCI lights that 1M has. I also liked the honey comb grill and new implementation of the air curtain area which was initiated by the 1M in a simpler but still (aesthetically) effective manner 3 years ago.

Overall car looked more elegant and smart than sporty and I believe the rear shouts for some modding like new spoiler and diffuser plus other smaller details I listed above to make it a very clean and sleek looking small coupe. Size-wise looked just right to me, I wouldn't like to have a bigger coupe than this one, smaller the better. And Melbourne Red is a lovely color. There was a M6 coupe in Sakhir Orange next to this car and I thought MR was a better color, also thought VO is better than both too but imho it looks that good only on 1Ms for some reason anyway. There was a 114 or something like that in VO there but you had to look long to say that this might be the same color of the 1M, it just doesn't pop on these new 1ers and X cars.

Interior: is a clear step up from the E82 including 1M, no questions about it. Not overly done and this example with the wonderful cloth/alcantara blue shadow and alu-cube trims was looking and feeling really good, I would choose that over the leather in 1M (especially so if it would have matching stitching in VO too) any day. I also liked the new sporty steering wheel, it fits well, has a nice touch and size. It is simply annoying not to be able to see if the engine is cold or hot right away when you start the car like you would in a 1M. It felt bigger, especially larger at the front vs a 1M, rear seat space seemed similar maybe a tad bigger, not too much. I always felt that the space in a E82 at the rear is not that bad for a small family with 1 or 2 kids (I have 2 and nowadays 1M is my only car), and luggage space is really good and usable so these are not defining details for me. But I can say that sitting at the driver's seat it felt closer in sensation to my old E90 330i sedan rather than the 1M, this can be a good thing or bad depending on what you are looking for.

Test Drive: I also had a test drive of a Boxster S at the end of last year so I will incorpórate my impressions about all 3 (1M, Boxster S and M235i) here at some points and will try to refrain from making clear cut judgements which I find annoying in these internet car forums.

Start up and the engine comes to life with no drama compared to 1M and continues to take it easy and comfy in slow speeds in city traffic before we get out to peripherical expressway where I was hoping to open it up. Very comfy indeed and thinking that this car was with runflats is almost unbelievable to me; even with Michelin PSS and on a good tarmac my 1M could never come close but I don't find it bone crushing either. There is a very clear understated personality of this car when you drive it on D with everything default in city speeds, impossible to say that it has such power and capacity, it feels like any other regular (new) BMW, again this may be a good or bad thing depending on who you are and what you look for. There is no vibration, stiffness or noise to speak of so if you want a sleeper and versatile DD never write this one off before driving one. 1M on the other hand is an occasion and reminds you what it is from the moment you start it up, regardless of speed or road/traffic conditions, this one you need to remind it to yourself what you are driving!

This particular variable ratio electro-mechanic steering felt almost identical with the Boxster S's unit that I test drove but I would give the notch to P car, was even more refined and precise. Did I like this steering? No. Did I hate it? No again. But I would not buy this car because of a 'good steering feel' because there is none. I really hope that F80 will come with something drastically different than this because to be honest this is no different than the steering on more economy-comfort oriented cars, it just makes the job done like a well behaving slave with no willingness or genuine participation, slave-steering! My biggest concern and critic about the Boxster was the same but rest of that car was more sporty and performance oriented than this one so not comparing them directly. And yes I tried the sport mode in both as well.

It was a fast road with no cameras and light traffic which I am very familiar of (intentionally used exact that section of the road to reach BMW dealer with my 1M earlier today). First I let the engine and tires heat up a bit and I get more comfy myself too so I let the car go in default mode in D, it felt smooth, quick and little noise but also felt a bit soft and with a tad less power than the 1M if I would be driving the 1M in a high gear and at cruising revs in non-sport mode for transport purposes. Then I took a return and hit the car this time with Sport mod, DTC off etc. everything at its sportiest setting imagining that this would be equivalent of how I drive the 1M there normally: MDM on, M button pressed for 'sport' and revving up to 7000 rpm whenever I feel so. Result: on straight I thought it is as quick as the 1M, no doubts, even with run flat vs PSS on my car. Power wise when you start pushing it becomes more clear that it misses the extra power 1M has, feels a bit less agressive the way that it delivers it and driver misses the extra kick of the overboost of 1M as well. Sound gets better (all of a sudden) in the cabin when Sport is chosen, now it is better than a stock 1M (no comments on the artificial sound subject). Throttle response is better in this car as long as 1M is on default mode BUT once the M button is pressed 1M gets better response (to be avoided in city traffic though, gets jerky). Brake efficiency seems similar to me. On the corners M235i feels less enjoyable due to combined feel of hesitancy of the gearbox/adaptive suspension/steering and lack of ultimate grip of these run-flat tires. But, always more stable and comfy than the 1M and I don't say this as a compliment necessarily because it also hides the limits of the car unlike in 1M where you sense what is happening all the time and what is gonna happen next too, I find that more valuable than the sensation of stability in a sports car which does not communicate well (so in short, my preferance of predictability and transparence over stability and high tech competence). It also occured to me that without real grippy tires there is no way this car can have the upper hand on a long or short whatever track; I thought if driven by a pro probably the difference would be more than myself as the driver because it really looks like there is not much you can do after a point if you are a pro or not with the M235i because you are limited by inherent safety-first personality of the car. 1M on the other hand seems to be travelling the same distance arguably at a very similar time on clock while having way more fun because obviously it is not engineered with daily duties and safety in mind, it is engineered by some (pyrat drunk) enthusiasts in M division (beautiful people they are) who risked loosing their jobs by going 'nuts'.

So there is a lot to comment on who should buy one, who should refrain from buying one but I am sure people are mature enough to decide for themselves on these things and it just is not a bad car at all, on the contrary it has a lot to like and some over a 1M or any new car but maybe it has been intentionally limited as a DD oriented versatile coupe, twin brother of a mega hatch with usable power reserves. This is not a 1M not a M2 probably too, I know it never intended to be one other than some misleading and confusing advertisement which provoked some people to think so. In my case, to stick with 1M and eventually choosing a M3 might be the way to go. But I can see many people driving one and thinking that this is 'the one'.
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Last edited by ozinaldo; 05-03-2014 at 11:12 PM.
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      05-03-2014, 08:21 PM   #2
nachob
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Ozi, is the Chilean Consulate spying on me??? : )

Someone is reading my mind!

I am ashamed of how good your write-up is after posting my hasty one earlier. I agree 1,000,000% with absolutely everything. I found the steering excellent, smooth, fine, just not providing feedback. Someone paraphrased me and used the word 'numb' and I corrected it immediately. The steering is excellent just without much feedback. The car itself is excellent except for the rear styling. If I had never owned a 1M, I would be all over it now but it's really just another super fast car with a lot of cool technology and little excitement. I also agree, and think BMW did a disservice by comparing it to the 1M. It's obvious from the all the gadgets, options that it was targeted at a slightly different group. I found the legroom in the rear seats to be better but the roofline was lower so your legs are comfy but now my 5'9'' head is touching the headliner even in no sunroof cars. I consider this a wash.

This whole ordeal with the 235i guys declaring the 1M surpassed reminds me of my experience with Cold Play's first album. A guy on the radio was raving about the group. He was saying they were the next U2 and their album was the next Joshua Tree. As a fan of U2, I ran down the to the store and bought their CD. It was good, but dreamy and sleepy.. I finished it and gave it to a friend. It was a huge disappointment. Once I got past the hype and lowered my expectations and started to hear other Cold Play albums, I grew to love a lot of their stuff ! Likewise, now that reality has returned to the discussion and the M2 is coming, I think the M235i is a nice package.

If I could get one with the Alcantara Interior, no iDrive and Display, fixed M-Sport suspension instead of dynamic this and that, I would seriously buy one but it's not an easy transition for the type of 1M owner that was targeted by Dr. Z.

Thanks again and I will miss your posts when you over the M3 side!
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      05-03-2014, 10:42 PM   #3
ozinaldo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nachob View Post
Ozi, is the Chilean Consulate spying on me??? : )

Someone is reading my mind!

I am ashamed of how good your write-up is after posting my hasty one earlier. I agree 1,000,000% with absolutely everything. I found the steering excellent, smooth, fine, just not providing feedback. Someone paraphrased me and used the word 'numb' and I corrected it immediately. The steering is excellent just without much feedback. The car itself is excellent except for the rear styling. If I had never owned a 1M, I would be all over it now but it's really just another super fast car with a lot of cool technology and little excitement. I also agree, and think BMW did a disservice by comparing it to the 1M. It's obvious from the all the gadgets, options that it was targeted at a slightly different group. I found the legroom in the rear seats to be better but the roofline was lower so your legs are comfy but now my 5'9'' head is touching the headliner even in no sunroof cars. I consider this a wash.

This whole ordeal with the 235i guys declaring the 1M surpassed reminds me of my experience with Cold Play's first album. A guy on the radio was raving about the group. He was saying they were the next U2 and their album was the next Joshua Tree. As a fan of U2, I ran down the to the store and bought their CD. It was good, but dreamy and sleepy.. I finished it and gave it to a friend. It was a huge disappointment. Once I got past the hype and lowered my expectations and started to hear other Cold Play albums, I grew to love a lot of their stuff ! Likewise, now that reality has returned to the discussion and the M2 is coming, I think the M235i is a nice package.

If I could get one with the Alcantara Interior, no iDrive and Display, fixed M-Sport suspension instead of dynamic this and that, I would seriously buy one but it's not an easy transition for the type of 1M owner that was targeted by Dr. Z.

Thanks again and I will miss your posts when you over the M3 side!
Thanks nachob; actually it was easier to write this up after reading posts like yours so I guess it is kind of normal that my impressions reflect a 1M owner's perception right after driving the 1M on the same road before test driving this car which in itself is very good and accomplished but maybe not a 'love child'

And I guess I had really good spare time to write such long post!
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      05-04-2014, 02:36 AM   #4
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Great write-up! Just reassured me that I made the right decision!
Well done Ozinaldo!
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      05-05-2014, 03:26 AM   #5
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Great write up! haha i had the opportunity to see the m235i (and all other M cars) everyday.. and i must say that i too, agree with your review 10000%!

I feel that the M135i and the M235i are really similar in terms of driving dynamics, just that the M235i seemed a tad more calm than the M135i. the M135 is definitely more tail happy compared to the M235I.

The 1M, on the other hand, is a totally different beast. More mechanical, more emotional.
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      05-05-2014, 05:07 AM   #6
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Ozi, muy interesante.
Very interesting.
Anxious to hear what you have to say about the F80.
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      05-05-2014, 09:30 AM   #7
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Thanks for the writeup!!! Love to see impressions from actual people with actual experiences as opposed to people reading a spec sheet and making assumptions or generalizations ( for example, EPS).

It looks like the 2 will be a much more refined car that hopefully dealers can really sell as opposed to attempting to step customers from a 1 series to a 3 series ( which happens at all the dealers in Dallas Fort Worth ... Amazingly, dealers in Austin and San Antonio actually sell 1series cars ).

I love the front and hate the rear. Personally, I would only be interested in an m235 as a 2 year lease while waiting for an M2, but I think a lot of people will love the 228 particularly, and also the m235.
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      05-05-2014, 10:55 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nachob View Post
This whole ordeal with the 235i guys declaring the 1M surpassed reminds me of my experience with Cold Play's first album. A guy on the radio was raving about the group. He was saying they were the next U2 and their album was the next Joshua Tree. As a fan of U2, I ran down the to the store and bought their CD. It was good, but dreamy and sleepy.. I finished it and gave it to a friend. It was a huge disappointment. Once I got past the hype and lowered my expectations and started to hear other Cold Play albums, I grew to love a lot of their stuff ! Likewise, now that reality has returned to the discussion and the M2 is coming, I think the M235i is a nice package.
LOL.

There's only one band more BORING than U2....and that's fookin Coldplay. I did not enjoy this comparison at all......if the 1M is like the U2 of the car world-----i would NOT be interested!!!! haha
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      05-05-2014, 11:00 AM   #9
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Good review, one thing I dont agree with though is the interior styling, I find it too overstyled for a BMW, too many sharp lines.

If I published this review I would definitely quote and bold my favourite part:
Quote:
But I would not buy this car because of a 'good steering feel' because there is none.
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      05-05-2014, 11:35 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ItsHectic View Post
Good review, one thing I dont agree with though is the interior styling, I find it too overstyled for a BMW, too many sharp lines.

If I published this review I would definitely quote and bold my favourite part:
I just tell people to wait and get a M2... the M235i as far as I'm concerned is just a 135i with updated suspension, transmission, and some small improvements... while taking away everything from the steering feel...
It's not worthy of a M badge at all... since it's the only M badged car that doesn't have a LSD standard lol.

Actually, if you add in a LSD, the price would be within like 5k of the projected price of a M2 too lol.
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      05-05-2014, 11:41 AM   #11
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I consider it in the same league as my "M Sport" and other BMW "M Sport" models, however I dont know the difference between M sport and non M sport 135is because they dont sell the non M sport models in Australia and I havent looked it up.

I think the M2 will still lack steering feedback, perhaps not so much the steering feel around corners but I doubt you will feel the imperfections of the road through it, you dont in a Porsche and Toyota/Lexus have been taking their sweet ass time engineering the feel in to their steering wheels.
Mercedes has had decent EPS from before BMW started using it. BMW is essentially playing catch up with everyone. I think they should of just started the design process before even planning on implementing it, this must of been what Renault done.

Edit: So "M sport" is purely aesthetic in the 135i, they all come with M suspension standard. : o
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      05-05-2014, 12:02 PM   #12
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Car and Driver made a pretty solid observation about comparing the 1-series and 2-series when reviewing the 228.

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      05-05-2014, 05:11 PM   #13
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I test drove a M235i AT a few weeks ago. In summary it is a great sporty car, but definitely not a full M car. For someone who enjoys spririted driving and doesn't want to track, it is ideal. It is definitely a just 135i replacement which has evolved to have better suspension and looks.

I agree re steering have a numbness to it, but I think that that is a result of stepping out of a 1M. I'm sure you'd get used to the 'feel'. The engine & transmission are excellent.

The rear asthetics are bad. Not sure what aftermarket parts will be able to resolve the rear end looks, as the lights are just too far apart and exhausts look lost in a sea of plastic. Side and front profiles are very pleasing to the eye and certainly more elegant than the E82.
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      05-05-2014, 05:28 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IEDEI View Post
Car and Driver made a pretty solid observation about comparing the 1-series and 2-series when reviewing the 228. ...
That article is spot on.

I test drove the M235i, both an 8-spd auto and a 6-spd manual, about 3-4 weeks ago.

I found the 2-series interior much improved over the 1-series. Placement of the leather and material quality seemed much nicer and more thought-out. You also feel like you're sitting more down "in" the car than compared to the 1-series, where it kind of feels like you're more upright or "on top" of the car.

Oddly it felt like the 2-series A-pillars were closer to the driver; kind of made me feel like a larger person compared to sitting in the 1-series, or as if I had less space (I'm 6'3"). Despite being a few inches larger than the 1, it felt a tad bit claustrophobic.

The M235i w/ 6-spd had a nice clutch and gearbox - pretty similar to between a 1M and 135i. I thought the suspension was fine, but nothing to rave about (my tester had RFTs so that probably didn't help).

My main critique of the M235i was it's steering. Although it felt more linear than my old Z4 (the ratio at various speed seemed pretty intuitive), it was definitely too artificial. I just didn't get the feedback/resistance I wanted going around bends or bumps.
...Oh, and no oil temp gauge, nor can you order one without a center console screen.

So yes, a nice compact car. Overall it felt more grown up but less visceral than what I was expecting.
BMW has left plenty of space to fill with the M2.
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      05-05-2014, 05:33 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vasmir View Post
That article is spot on.

I test drove the M235i, both an 8-spd auto and a 6-spd manual, about 3-4 weeks ago.

I found the 2-series interior much improved over the 1-series. Placement of the leather and material quality seemed much nicer and more thought-out. You also feel like you're sitting more down "in" the car than compared to the 1-series, where it kind of feels like you're more upright or "on top" of the car.

Oddly it felt like the 2-series A-pillars were closer to the driver; kind of made me feel like a larger person compared to sitting in the 1-series, or as if I had less space (I'm 6'3"). Despite being a few inches larger than the 1, it felt a tad bit claustrophobic.

The M235i w/ 6-spd had a nice clutch and gearbox - pretty similar to between a 1M and 135i. I thought the suspension was fine, but nothing to rave about (my tester had RFTs so that probably didn't help).

My main critique of the M235i was it's steering. Although it felt more linear than my old Z4 (the ratio at various speed seemed pretty intuitive), it was definitely too artificial. I just didn't get the feedback/resistance I wanted going around bends or bumps.
...Oh, and no oil temp gauge, nor can you order one without a center console screen.

So yes, a nice compact car. Overall it felt more grown up but less visceral than what I was expecting.
BMW has left plenty of space to fill with the M2.

the reason why you loved the 6 speed gearbox in the 2er is because it is the exact same gearbox as the LCI 135 and the 1M!

i've now read several people write something very similar to what you're writing regarding steering feel. I suppose the worst fears about electronic steering are coming true. "numbness" and "steering feel" were never in the same line traditionally when talking about BMW enthusiast models.......*sigh*

i realised this was coming the last time i drove an F30 335.....the steering was terrible.......like mush.
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      05-05-2014, 08:41 PM   #16
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Oz - did you do this up at Williamson Balfour? I might head up on the weekend for a run.
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      05-05-2014, 11:13 PM   #17
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Quote:
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Oz - did you do this up at Williamson Balfour? I might head up on the weekend for a run.
Yes, Av. La Dehesa. They have one available for the test drives in mineral grey and a Melbourne Red for show/sale. Both same equipments and trims. I went there without calling but you may call first since I think I was just too lucky.
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      05-06-2014, 07:17 PM   #18
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So considering you like smaller cars (I totally share the feeling - it is sad to see what the 3 series has become) will you wait for the M2 now that it finally seems confirmed, or would you still go for the bigger car?
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      05-06-2014, 07:41 PM   #19
ozinaldo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ayrton91 View Post
So considering you like smaller cars (I totally share the feeling - it is sad to see what the 3 series has become) will you wait for the M2 now that it finally seems confirmed, or would you still go for the bigger car?
Looks like I'd better go for the M3; yes it is big but I am now thinking that it could be the better single car in the family for my possibly limited time in Portugal. Also, it is ready and looks good while we don't know at all how much love and care BMW will pour on the M2 and it won't be before 2016 anyway. I might just miss trying owning a M2 solely on technicalities and timing. If they would be both available right now it could be another story. You can't have it all, at least I can't
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