Sept. 20, 2020, 10:46 a.m.

Car Review: BMW M235i Gran Coupé

Make/Model: BMW M235i Gran Coupé 2020
Colour: Boring Alpine White
New?: New (Demo)
Engine: 2.0l I-4 Turbo
Power/Torque: 224kW (301 BHP) / 449Nm (331 lb·ft)
Average Fuel Consumption: 7.6 - 10.3 l/100 km (Highway - City)
Performance: 0-100km/h in 4.8s, 250 km/h top speed
Transmission: 8 speed automatic
Owned: September 2020 - Current

BMW M235i 2020 - Front View
BMW M235i 2020 - Front View
BMW M235i 2020 - Rear View
BMW M235i 2020 - Rear View

Notes:
I have not owned this car long enough for a full review, but did take it on a 612km roundtrip to Lillooet. On the way there (through Whistler) I placed the car in sport mode and at times I also placed the transmission in sport mode. When combined, this car really impressed me. Do keep in mind - I am the guy that once said "I consider any car that does 0-100km/h in less than 10 seconds a performance car" - a statement I am embarrassed about now but it reflects on me as just a normal person loving cars and enjoying subjective opinions about how they make me feel as opposed to professional auto reviewers).

In tight corners on a winding road climbing steep mountains followed by 14% downhill slopes, the car just handled sublimely. It was not as much fun as the mustang which easily could whip out its tail in the bends, and one really tight 180 degree corner caused the car to slightly understeered. However I always felt in control of the road - the automatic driver assist features like traction control, stability control, power distribution etc. all helped keeping the car planted on the road. The M brakes were fantastic - they did not fade during my trip and ensured I could enter a corner at the right speed.

On the way back from Lillooet, via Hope, I tested the fuel efficiency. I placed the car in Eco Pro mode and used a combination of the cruise control and manual driving to make the trip back all in one tank - that is, 612km on one 50l tank. Do keep in mind, 284km was through a major city and with the car in sport mode and pushed hard on a hilly road. When I refuelled, the car estimated I can drive 930km on one 50l tank based on my average fuel consumption. For a high performance car, I was impressed.

As to comfort - even though I did the trip in about 10 hours, I did not feel any discomfort during the ride. Seats are fantastic - though not as "grippy" as the MINI. I have ample leg room and the steering wheel is comfortable to hold.

The navigation system works really well - well enough that I have not yet needed CarPlay.

I am in two about the styling. I like the front of the car, but the tail section is a bit off. And I hate the colour. It attracts dirt like nothing else and it is just so boring that I walked past my car twice now. Unfortunately it was the only colour my dealer had. Next car will NOT be white.

Update 2021-04-04 I had more time with the car now, and have some new opinions on the automation and driver assistance built in to the vehicle. My specific model has a couple of safety features that is supposed to assist the driver with some aspects of driving.

Specifically, the lane assist feature kicks in at 70km/h and warns you if you veer out of your lane by vibrating and subsequently correcting the steering input. This is cool until it does not work as expected. When a line separating lanes have been painted over with black to hide it, the system picks up the gloss reflection and still sees it as a lane divider, even though it is not the lane. Also, those black fillers the road crew uses to patch up cracks in the tarmac throws it off the same way. So you will be driving along happily and the next moment the vehicle will vibrate the steering wheel and perform a correction which in my mind is stupendously dangerous. So I turned it off.

The second issue is with the failsafe detection logic that picks up when the sensors are unable to function optimally. This happened twice during a mild downpour (Vancouver does not really get hard rain, just lots of it) when the vehicle told me the safety and assistance features were disabled due to the sensor temporarily not functioning. I am fine with that, what I am not fine with is that the system did not tell me which systems were deactivated, and it also never told me when this error state was cleared. Knowing that the sensors are not working is one thing, but not knowing when they are working again basically renders that warning useless as the only save assumption I can make is that for the rest of my journey, even perhaps until I see my service centre, will the assistive functions be nonfunctional. The correct behaviour would be for the system to tell me when the sensors are functioning again - that way I know when I should rely on them and when not.

The last thing I dislike is the steering - whether in sport mode or comfort mode, the tires track the road a bit too much for my comfort. I sometimes have to actively fight the steering wheel on a highway when the road is not perfectly flat. I am all for feedback, but this is too much.

Update 2021-05-19 Since I just recently had to put on winter tires (Continentals), I finally figured out that the steering issue is not a fault of the car - rather, it is due to the Bridgestone summer tires that came standard on the vehicle. The winter tires track much better. Go figure.