2015 BMW M235i: Going Eco Pro
by Carlos Lago, Road Test Editor on November 25, 2015
Press up on the rocker switch next to the shifter in our 2015 BMW M235i and you go into Sport mode. All is good in the world.
But what happens when you press back? While spending two hours in stop-and-go traffic this week, I decided to find out and explored the decidedly less fun world of Eco Pro.
The first thing you'll notice when you activate the setting is a new blue gauge underneath the tachometer, shown above. Then you might notice the climate control doesn't work as hard. Nor do the heated seats. The drivetrain becomes less eager to downshift, and when you lift the throttle above 30 mph, the tach drops to idle.
As its name implies, Eco Pro gets real miserly with gas consumption. Powering the air conditioning costs engine power, so using it less saves fuel. Lower engine speeds also mean lower fuel consumption, so the engine declutches when you're coasting and drops to idle speeds. Reapplying the gas pedal or touching the brake pedal re-clutches it back together.
The blue gauge has charge and power sections, and a white needle floats between the two depending on how you're driving. When the needle goes to charge, BMW says the M235i can use kinetic energy from braking and coasting to fill its battery, so the engine doesn't have to drive the alternator as frequently.
The mode also reminds you to drive in a fuel conscious manner, like slowing down gas pedal applications, reducing speed, and shifting more economically in manual-equipped cars.
There's a lot happening here to encourage monk-like, fuel-conscious driving. Good thing the BMW also shows how many miles you've gained from this monk-like driving behavior as a reward.
I dutifully followed the recommendations, eager to see how many miles I could save over two hours of stop-and-go traffic. What did I get?
Don't think I'll be using this mode too often.
Carlos Lago, Road Test Editor