BMW M235i XDrive M Sport23 September 2020
So does this new style of Gran Coupe work both as a performance car and practical car? Does it compare to the highly rated CLA35?
The biggest competitors are the CLA35 an the A3 Saloon.
This is an all new design by BMW and going around the office it is very controversial and split opinions, especially to do with the exterior looks. There is no question that the front looks aggressive with its masculine and bold creases coming down the bonnet to the honeycomb grills.
The interior styling however oozes quality with everything feeling solid and well put together. The cockpit does feel small but the cabin wraps around the driver with the centre console being slightly angled towards the driver. There are small touches which makes a difference, i.e. the aluminium air conditioning controls and the door handles feel perfectly weighted. Everything you touch in the 235i feels expensive. There is no question that the interior is better than the Audi’s as this is currently going to through a life cycle change. Mercedes CLA interior is more ‘WOW’ and flamboyant but I think living with both the 235i feels more luxurious.
The seats are good and supportive and I like the standard seats, if you do want leather this would be an upgrade.
So, with it being a Gran Coupe is does have that sloping headline in the back so anyone over 6ft might find it a little tight on the head room, but it is similar to the competitors. The boot is massive and really easy access with it a wide entrance. There is a good amount of storage around the vehicle with big door holders and 2 cup holders in the front
Engine and gearbox
Coming from the old 240i coupe, BMW has lost 2 cylinders with it now only having four. However, there is nothing to fear as the four cylinder is blisteringly quick with it doing 0-60 in 4.9 seconds and it the car it certainly feels quicker than this. The cars come with 306 BHP and 450Nm, the torque is the more impressive figure here as you can really feel this low down in the rev range and pulls hard from low revs with not noticeable turbo lag.
Throttle response is sharp and the pick up is brilliant from any gear. The engine does rev quickly but unfortunately you miss the extra 2 cylinders when it comes to sound. The engine has no life in it, no rasp which you fall in love with in a car and in attempt to hide this BMW is pumping car noise through the cars speakers to create a sportier feel, but don’t be alarmed by this, Mercedes are doing the same.
The BMW has an 8-speed gearbox giving you plenty of gears to pick from, in sports mode the down shifts and upshifts are quick or if you are just plodding around town the BMW seems to pick the right gear.
MPG figures is where it beats the Mercedes hands down, on a 70-mile round trip to work on the motorway I was getting low 40’s MPG which is incredible for a car with this performance. However, once you get on a B road and putting your right foot down you will see this drop significantly.
Handling and suspensive
This is where the BMW stands out and eats the miles whether that be motorway or cross country. The BMW feels agile and grip is sensational thanks to BMW xDrive system making it thrilling and confidence boosting for any driver. On the corners you can really abuse the car as the xDrive works its magic and straightens the cars line out of the corners. As you probably would expect the ride was firm but better than expected and the move feels fluid but you do feel the pot holes. If you require a better ride BMW does have a £500 extra to add adaptive dampers which allows you to soften or stiffen the suspension depending on what driving mode you are in.
The steering is responsive but you do have to get used to the whole package and getting to grips with the thick M Sport Steering wheel.
The driving position also adds to the way the car feels as the position is nearly perfect, with enough adjustability in the seat and steering wheel to get the perfect driving position no matter what size you are.
It is the usual package with BMW, if you have been in any new BMW recently you will know the package as they all have to be the same but this seems to be the case with every brand at the moment. The virtual cockpit is good and clear however there simply is not good enough configurability as you can only change minor things in the middle. Comparing this to the Mercedes where you can personalise everything to the point where it can get complicated. Audi has the best screen resolution with the amazing virtual cockpit.
You can use hand signals to control the volume, track etc which I thought was a gimmick at first but spending time with the car I find it extremely useful and I am sure after time it would become second nature using this feature.
BMW has the BEST entertainment system though for usability, you can control it via the Idrive wheel in the centre console which is the easiest to use out of the competition.
The 235i Gran Coupe is a marmite car for everyone, some purist will say it is not the BMW it used to be as it now has a turbo but unfortunately this is the way all manufactures are going to hit C02 target. Personally, I think the exterior styling could be better, but it grows on me and who knows what we will think in a year’s time.
The car as a package is unbelievable. How it can be a cruiser on the motorway to next minute a B road basher, it has to be one of the best all roader car I have drove in a long time and if you don’t need the space in rear it has to up there in your choices. Overall, I think it is more composed on the road than the Mercedes but there is no arguing that Mercedes has more curb appeal both inside and out, its just a question whether it matters to you or are you after the better driving car? Answer this question and you will have your choice.
To sum up the BMW 235i Gran Coupe is extremely quick car - very capable in every scenario.