February 4, 2014 11:45 AM | By Mark Richardson for MSN Autos

2014 BMW 2 Series first drive



2014 BMW M235i (© Photo: Mark Richardson)
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  • 2014 BMW M235i (© Photo: Mark Richardson)
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2014 BMW M235i

Baby BMW grows in name and performance, but keeps the thrills alive

2014 BMW M235i Coupe (© Photo: BMW)

Las Vegas, Nevada — Don’t be confused by BMW’s new naming policy. From now on, the 2 Series is the coupe version of the 1 Series, and the 4 Series is the coupe version of the 3. Simple, if they stick to it, except the just-announced 4 Series Gran Coupe is really a hatchback with four doors.

But a true (a non-Gran coupe? -- Ed.) coupe isn’t just the same car with fewer doors. It’s supposed to be the more virile version of the car, the model for young bucks who don’t care about child seats in the back and extra space for school runs. They want passion and pure driving pleasure, or at least the promise of it.

They had this with the old 1 Series coupe, which sold 150,000 units around the world since its introduction in 2007. And they definitely had it with the hot, limited edition 1M coupe – now that was a driver’s car. Precise and powerful, if not too comfortable, it was all about rear-wheel drive performance and it nurtured a legion of Bimmer faithful.

A little larger all around

2014 BMW M235i (© Photo: BMW)

Now the 2 Series takes the reins and offers a car that’s slightly larger, though no heavier. The new car is 72-mm longer than the 1 Series coupe and 26-mm wider, but its wheels are pushed out farther: there’s an extra 30 mm to its wheelbase, and an additional 41 and 43 mm to its front and rear tracks. 

In Canada, there won’t be a 1 Series for 2014. The rest of the world has three- and five-door hatchbacks as well as coupes, but we’ve only had the coupe and cabriolet in this model.

Elsewhere in the world, the new car offers three different diesel engines and three gas engines, but in North America, we get only the two largest gas versions, both of which come turbocharged. That’s a 2.0L four-cylinder under the hood of the 228i, which makes 241 hp and claims to be good for zero-to-100 km/h in 5.7 seconds, and a 3.0L straight-six that makes 322 hp and takes just 4.8 seconds to accelerate to 100 km/h.

Both of those acceleration times are with the eight-speed automatic, which includes launch control; there’s still a six-speed manual if you prefer to stir the gears yourself, but the paddle shifters are so quick and responsive that you won’t improve on these times. In most of the rest of the world, the manual and automatic are the same price, but in Canada, the automatic will cost an extra $1,600. Hmm – that sounds like a cash grab, but it’s the price we pay for being Canadians.

Both cars will be available in Canada in March. The 228i will have an MSRP of $36,000 (the same as the outgoing 2013 1 Series Coupe) and the M235i will list at $45,000.

New M Performance class doesn’t compromise comfort

2014 BMW M235i (© Photo: Mark Richardson)

Don’t call it an M2, though. BMW is introducing a whole new segment called M Performance, which is intended to be as sporty as possible while still providing a comfortable and pleasant drive on the road. No more jarring of the teeth or spilling of the coffee on bumpy roads for M Performance cars, but they’ll still sound racy and go like stink around corners.

If you want an M2, and can afford one with its uncompromising performance and carbon-fibre bits everywhere, there’ll surely be one available within a year or two. Engineers here, though, would give only shy smiles when asked for any confirmation.

I couldn’t wait until March to drive the M235i, so came here to Sin City to put it through some paces on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway track. It’s the successor to the hot and uncompromising 1M coupe, which quickly sold out its limited run despite its $50,000 price tag. In many ways, it’s also a successor to the older E36 M3 from a decade ago, a much-loved car of similar size and performance.

Only the eight-speed automatic was available here, so I settled in behind the wheel and set out on the track. There are four settings available through the standard Driver Experience Control switch, which governs the throttle and transmission response as well as the suspension damping. The Eco-Pro setting relaxes everything to save fuel, including allowing the car to coast at cruising speed with the powertrain disengaged when you take your foot off the gas. If you have the Navigation option, it will even read the road ahead to suggest when to lift off the throttle.

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