I’d do it all over again, and this time, maybe love it just a little more.
A few years ago my left foot was getting itchy. I was fatigued with my mom car — an SUV that deep in my mom heart I loved for the haven of safety and solace it provided my family. But I need to be me. I needed to hit the road and just drive.
I craved to not careen around curves at 25 MPH, but to approach them with reserve power that I would unleash as the curve unfurled. To zip up the driveway with thrust and gurgle. To open up all 6,000 RPM while merging into 65 MPH traffic on on the parkway. And to do it with a stick shift 6-speed that let me control the car and the road. So I bought a BMW.
But, still needing to be mom, I had to have room for my husband, my kids, the dog, the groceries, road trip luggage and the occasional Home Goods impulse purchase. My sports car would need 4 doors and plenty of legroom. After a bit of shopping I ended up with a BMW 335i.
Over the years the BMW 3 Series has had makeovers and upgrades and now, it has a lil’ sis: The BMW 2 Series. She’s about the same size and carries the same DNA, but like any sibling, she’s got her own distinct characteristics, too.
What the 235i is All About. And Why We Call Her ‘M’
When it made its debut in 2014, the BMW 2 Series was a 2-door coupe that complemented the lineup, slightly smaller than the 3 Series and a great place to start your BMW ownership journey, entry level in both price and power.
And since then, the 2 Series has grown up. BMW added an X2 crossover ( a not-so-large SUV) and an M2 Competition edition (maybe one of the most fun to drive cars ever). For 2020 the lineup adds 228i and M235i xDrive Gran Coupe editions. They have the same body style, a 4-door sedan with a swooping roof line that looks more like a coupe than a sedan. This is the first time BMW has produced the 2 Series in a 4-door version.
I recently test drove the M235i and thoroughly loved it. The ‘M’ in the car’s name refers to BMW’s Motorsport designation which adds 73 more horsepower, a more guttural engine sound and a sportier drive experience than the 228i. And with upgrades like sport brakes, red leather and sport seats, it’s everything you want in a sports sedan but with the features that make it suitable for everyday driving too, especially when it’s your turn to drop the kids off at school.
Rightly so — and I love that BMW did this— only the 235i is M designated. With the larger engine and sport details, it makes sense. And, it delivers. In comfort mode the M235i is quick and responsive. Put it in sport and it’s even more so, the engine producing a more growly sound; your entire soul accelerates along with the car.
I Love My Baby; Can I Love Her Sibling Just as Much?
It’s a raw admission but as a parent, we know it rings true: You love your eldest so much, you wonder how her sibling will match up. But of course, they do and you love them for their similarities and their differences. I felt this while comparing the M235i to my own 335i. They each produce about 300 horsepower, both are right-sized for me—not too small, not too large, with 4 doors and plenty of room for back seat passengers — and both are really fun to drive. Every moment behind the wheel is an experience. The M235i is not available in a stick shift, however, but it makes up for it with paddle shifters and sport modes that deliver serious fun on the road.
What We Loved About the BMW M235i
With all the fun behind the wheel, BMW advanced many of the technology functions so it’s a pretty seamless experience; after you’ve set things up and learned your way around you can just get in and go and not worry about fumbling around to find things. Here’s what I really appreciated:
- Wireless AppleCarPlay. Set it up the first time by connecting your phone to Bluetooth, but then every time you get in, it connects (sorry Android phone owners, Android Auto is not yet available)
- Head up display, part of a $2,650 package, but then you have key information projected on the windshield in front of you and no need to look away from the road
- Navigation with turn by turn directions that are displayed on the HUD (only the built in navigation, not navi from CarPlay)
- “Hey BMW” voice activated assistant. Just ask for what you need. Turn on the heat, set the radio station, call your mom. It’s that easy
- The ‘Live Cockpit’ driver information screen allows you to customize your view,
- The standard 8.8” touch screen that can also be controlled with the iDrive dial control
- Smart key with push button start: it knows you’re there and unlocks the car for you; when you leave, push the door handle and the car locks for you
- Drive modes that are changed with the push of a button. While there is eco mode, and yes I used it, it’s not really the point of this car. Sport mode was my go-to every time I got in the car
Learning to Love a Different Looking Baby (and Yes, You Can)
The 2020 2 Series touched off debates among BMW enthusiasts. The front grill has sharp angles instead of arches framing the air vents and while this is a departure from the soft kidney-shaped grille that distinguishes BMW, I like how it sets off the diamond-cut mesh and slender headlights. It all works. And the 2 Series bones are that of an SUV, lending to a larger rear end (that, once I opened the trunk I simply loved. Keep reading for more on that). The SUV DNA also lends to larger, wider-set wheels and all wheel drive, which is standard 😀, two things you don’t expect to find on a sports sedan (I soooooo wish I had AWD on my 335i). Overall, I really like the look of the M235i and how those details lead to unexpected function.
Hello, Functional Space in a Sports Sedan ❤️
Not long after I bought my BMW 335i I was browsing at Home Goods and found the area rug of my dreams. As I pushed it out of the store in a shopping cart it hit me: How the heck do I get it home? My seats don’t fold and there was no way it would fit in the trunk. I ended up slotting it in though the sunroof. It worked and thankfully, I didn’t have far to drive.
The 2020 2 Series solves this issue thanks to its SUV DNA. Not only do the seats fold flat, but they leave an opening exactly as wide as the trunk floor— a brilliant detail. And, for everyday hauling, the trunk floor is nearly flush with the rear bumper (there’s a thin rubber threshold that keeps things from rolling out when you open the trunk), meaning you can easily load things into the trunk without too much heaving. This would have made my impulse carpet purchase so easy. And it makes loading in groceries, luggage and other gear easy, too.
However, if you want the added space that a flush cargo floor eliminates, you can have that too. The cargo floor opens up to reveal even more space. Hello birthday present hiding place.
In all, this was a super fun car to drive. Right-sized for me when I am alone, enough-sized for me + my people, flexibly sized for impulse purchasing, with all the power and performance experience that you need in a sports sedan. If I were buying this car I’d probably swap the red sport interior for the more elegant Oyster cream leather and add a panoramic sun roof and adaptive cruise control. The test model I drove honestly felt incomplete without the sunroof. Still, I could love this one just as much as my eldest, maybe even a little more.
What this BMW 2 series Costs
Configuring a 2 Series isn’t a Rubik’s cube of options; there are just a few choices to make. Our test model only had a couple of things missing, and all in, was nicely priced at about $50,000. Here’s how it breaks down:
- 2020 228i xDrive Gran Coupe, a 4 cylinder turbo with 228 HP, $37,500
- 2020 235i xDrive Gran Coupe, a 4 cylinder turbo with with 301 HP, $45,500, which includes driver assist and safety features, M Sport brakes, steering and suspension, steering wheel controls, paddle shifters, Apple CarPlay
- Add the Premium Package with head up display, heated front seats and steering wheel and Live Cockpit, $2,650
- Panoramic sunroof $1,350
- Adaptive cruise control, $1200
- Wireless charging and WiFi hotspot, $500
- Harman Kardon premium sound, $875
- M Sport front seats, $750
- Price of the model we test drove, $50,295, including $995 destination charge
What We Listened to in the BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupe
We had to make a playlist for hitting the highways and hills of Texas during our test drive. This is what sounded awesome in this car.