The 2014 BMW M235i is the best temptation yet for American car buyers to get back into sporty, two-door coupes.
The agile, turbocharged, rear-wheel drive M235i is downright fun to drive and relatively affordable — for a BMW with turbocharged six-cylinder power.
This first M Performance Automobile (MPA) from BMW to arrive in the United States has variable sport steering and an adaptive suspension that can amaze in racetrack cornering, and yet they are comfortably mannered enough for daily commutes.
In fact, the M235i, which is the top of BMW's new 2-Series model line, is being compared by some to BMW's revered 2002tii from the 1970s. The compact, two-door 2002tii had authentic sports car chops and is known by fans as "the BMW we all loved." And the $40,000 price tag often found on the surviving 2002tii gems isn't far from the price for a 2014 M235i, which the federal government classifies as a subcompact.
Starting manufacturer's suggested retail price, including destination charge, for a base M235i with 320 horsepower from a twin-turbo six cylinder, is $44,050. Buyers choose between an eight-speed automatic and six-speed manual with no change in price on the M235i. The all-wheel drive version — the M235i xDrive — has a starting retail price of $45,850.
To be sure, there is an entry 2-Series model, the 228i Coupe, which has a starting MSRP with destination charge of $33,050. The 228i comes with 240-horsepower, twin-turbo four cylinder but does not have an "M'' in its name because it is not an MPA.
MPA is BMW's label to differentiate new cars that have some, but not all, the sporty characteristics and machinery that are in the pricey, high-performance M models.
In the United States, for example, the lowest starting retail price for a 2014 M model — the M3 Sedan with 425-horsepower M twin-turbo six cylinder — is $62,950.
Complicating the M story is the fact that BMW also offers an "M Line" option package on some of its cars. This package can include such things as M suspension calibration, M sport steering wheel, sport front seats and rear spoiler.
But, of course, there's no M Line option on the M235i, because this model already has these items and much more.
Standard M235i equipment includes an electronic locking function on the rear differential, M Sport Braking system, 18-inch, Michelin Pilot Super Sports tires, power moonroof, automatic climate control and Xenon headlights, among other things.
But the M235i doesn't have a specially developed M engine. The 3-liter, twin-scroll, turbocharged, direct injection six cylinder is used in other BMW vehicles, such as the 335i Sedan.
Competitors to the M235i are few, since coupes have been losing popularity among U.S. car buyers for decades. The 2014 Audi S5 Coupe with 333-horsepower, supercharged six cylinder has a starting retail price of $53,395. The 2014 Porsche Cayman with 275-horsepower, six-cylinder engine, starts at $53,595.