I picked up a CPO 2014 M235i about two weeks ago. My wife insisted that I check it out; I originally intended to drive it first and then drive a couple of new Mustang GTs in the same general area. As it turned out I ended up making a deal then and there.
I was honestly surprised at how good it was. The car is about the same size as an E36, which suits me perfectly(a main sticking point on the Mustang was its size). It has just about every option, and fortunately there's no Helen Keller Package(Blind Spot Monitoring, Lane Departure warning, etc.). It's also an automatic, but being the Sport derivation of the ZF HP8 I can live with it(in any event, I still have the E36/5 Club Sport and Wrangler TJ to keep my left foot in practice).
What do I like?
The transmission actually does what I want it to do in Sport+/Manual mode- every other BMW automatic I have driven has tried to second-guess me- including the B7 press loaner I tested a while back. Think: electronic full manual valve body, for any older drag racers out there. Durability should be decent as the M235i Racing gets essentially the same transmission, albeit fitted with more aggressive software.
The Adaptive M Suspension literally transforms the car when you toggle into Sport or Sport+. It's almost like two different cars. I've never driven a BMW where the EDC or AMS made such a huge difference.
The standard M Performance Power Kit really eliminates the turbo lag; with 330 lb-ft of torque available from 1300 rpm it almost feels like some of the big block Chevys I drove in my misspent street racing youth. Fuel economy is hovering around 25 mpg, which is more than good enough for me.
Michelin PSS in a staggered setup are standard. No run flats- hallelujah!
The sports seats with adjustable bolsters are excellent as expected. It's no wonder that BMW NA is making them standard fitment in many US models; the base seats in most newer BMWs are only good for generating business for chiropractors.
The H-K audio is good enough that I don't feel like I have to tweak it right away.
The steering could use a bit more feel. That said, the effort and ratio(s)-Variable Sport Steering is standard-is very good.
I agree with Bob Harper from BMW CAR: the IP needs oil and water temperature gauges instead of the "///M 235i" graphic that illuminates as soon as you open the driver's door
The brakes are great but the pedal feel is somewhat wooden.
No LSD. I will definitely have to add one sooner than later; at half throttle it will light up the rear tires in Comfort mode with DSC fully enabled.
Track time will have to wait a few months. The 2ers first outing will be at Putnam Park- which is my "home" track. I'm too old to attempt to learn a car and a track at the same time. It will also see at least one night at the local 1/8th mile strip- might as well test the Launch Control...
A couple of people asked me to compare it to the E30 M3; the 2er is not as light on its feet and it lacks the "hard-wired to the synapses" experience of the original M3. However, it is very comparable to the E46 M3 in terms of handling and braking. Power in contrast, is more akin to that of the E9x M3- at least from a usability standpoint on public roads. In any event, I can easily see keeping this car for a decade or more. Who knows when/if Munich will build anything RWD in this size class again?
So... Is it worthy of an ///M badge? I'd say it's closer to an "is," but that said, most everyone has forgotten that the first M car based on a production model was the E12 M535i- which boasted the M30 3.5 motor from the E24 635i along with an upgraded suspension, an M body kit, and aggressively bolstered front seats. Sound familiar?