Two underlying character traits make themselves apparent when driving the BMW M235i at all times.
First? This is one of those sports cars that always lets drivers know they’re driving a sports car. A perpetual hint of tautness and stiffness plus the hum from the sport exhaust remind you you’re driving something a bit hot and bothered.
Second? There’s a remarkable smoothness to the whole thing. The brakes, steering, engine, and gearshifts, even the handling and ride, all feel dialed-in and calibrated to work beneath a blanket of creaminess. Cornering hard and fast with the chassis squirming beneath you, stopping with full ABS engagement, hitting the rev-limiter as you click for a paddle-activated upshift, or just cruising the highway, there’s a beautiful polish that shines through at all of the controls.
For the driver, this means constant experience of both the refinement promised by the BMW badge, and the response, thrills, and grins promised by the M badge.
The poor little M badge. Beleaguered, embroiled, scrutinized and scorned. There’s nearly religious significance to BMW’s little ‘M’, and folks get really, really serious about it, and the exclusive performance cars that BMW attaches it to.
According to countless reviewers, Youtube commentators and internet fanboys, BMW has made a horrible mistake. They’re wasting our time. They’ve screwed up, calling this souped-up 2 Series model the M235i.
“It’s not a ‘real’ M car!” gripe the bellyaching masses. “Too many safety features! Too much turbocharging! Too many safety sensors!”
Seriously? It’s just a frickin’ sticker. If you don’t like it, it’ll come off with a little blast of heat-gun and some flossing with a piece of fishing line.
So let’s move on.