2015 BMW M235i: 1,300 Miles in Three Days
by Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager on May 5, 2016
So I recently drove our 2015 BMW M235i on a three-day road trip spanning 1,300 miles. Take the jump for a recap of driving impressions and a lot of pictures.
Route: I-5 north, SR-99 north
Orange County-Sacramento-Chico-Red Bluff
I spent more time behind the wheel on Day 1 than any other during this trip. Cruise was set to 70 mph in an effort to beat existing fuel economy and range records. It was a straight shot north up Interstate 5 and over to SR 99 north outside of Bakersfield. Nothing to see but but farms and bugs and eventually, our state capitol.
Day 1 pros: The 10-way power front sport seats were fantastic. Somewhere between the tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel, adjustable lumbar and side bolster support I found the perfect spot. And I didn't have to adjust once the entire first day. Actually, it delivered the same level of comfort for the duration of my trip. This driver seat gets my vote for top two of all time, right behind that of our long-term Ford Raptor.
Day 1 cons: The BMW is noisy inside. If the car in the next lane is loud, the cabin of the BMW is loud. If potholes and ruts mar the road it booms angrily across them. This was expected. Not only is the M235i a convertible but it's also a sports car. I get it. But after 10 hours of driving, the elements left a steady ringing in my ears. That was a con no matter how forgiving I wanted to be.
Route: SR-36 east, US-395 south
Red Bluff-Lassen-Mill Creek-Almanor-Reno
I hit the road before the sun was up on Day 2 since this was going to be the day to take in scenery and I anticipated frequent stops. Then I got a little nervous about the sub-freezing temps expected along highway 36 and pulled over for an extended breakfast. About an hour later I was again headed east.
Day 2 pros: This leg through the mountains highlighted the BMW's ability to put a smile on my face. Power rolled on manageably and predictably. There was enough tire grip from its Michelin Pilot Super Sports that the M always felt in control. The steering wheel was heavy in my hands but responded without hesitation to my every input. Not every car offers this sort of connection to the driver. What a great day.
Day 2 cons: The only down side to my drive along 36 was that I didn't think to drop the convertible top sooner. I was all but alone on the highway with the roof down and temperatures in the mid-30s. To my left and right stood towering pines. Snow blanketed the roadside and capped mountain peaks in all directions. Pictures could not even do it justice. It was really something special.
Route: US-395 south
Day 3 was another early morning start. The above photo was one of the neatest and coldest moments of the drive home. It was taken alongside Hot Creek near Fales Hot Springs. That steam from the creek was visible because the outside temp was 19 degrees.
From there I powered on home.
Overall the M was a fun companion on this trip. I set a new single tank range record of 403.7 miles and the best fuel economy of 34.2 mpg. And I took a lot more photos. In no particular order...
Mike Schmidt, Vehicle Testing Manager @ 18,938 miles