2015 BMW M235i: M Designation Ruminations
by Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor on November 6, 2015
You don't have to look long at our 2015 BMW M235i to find the "M" logos. They're on the deck lid, door sills, steering wheel, brake calipers and engine cover. And I have to admit that seeing these M badges smattered so gleefully on a motorized softtop-havin' convertible packing an automatic transmission gives me twinge of sadness.
This is not how I want the storied M Division to go down.
Much as I'm okay with the Porsche Cayenne since it allows the Cayman to exist, I'd be fine with the above M-branding exercise if it shared floor space with an M-badged 2 Series stripped of fripperies and focused on driving. But we're not even close to that. Want a limited-slip differential in your M235i? Well yes, of course you do. It's got M badges after all. It should be part of the package, right?
No, a limited-slip diff is an option. Not only that, it's an option that exacts a breathtaking $3,240 toll on the options sheet.
Meanwhile, let's take a look at what performance car buyers can get for the $48,385 price of a M235i Coupe (no sissy convertibles here) equipped only with the optional limited-slip differential (which, again, really should be standard): a Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang (MSRP: $48,695).
Yes, for the price of a cynically badge-bespattered BMW in a bare-bones configuration that you'll never see in a showroom unless you special-order it yourself, you can get one of the most comprehensively ass-kicking-est cars this side of a Z06. How's that for some perspective?
This is not to say that the M235i is not a good car. On the contrary, it's a fine car. I really enjoy driving it. Given how good our convertible is, the Coupe must even better. But while BMW plays marketing games with its M Division's heritage, other manufacturers are busy raising the bar — and creating heritages of their own.
Jason Kavanagh, Engineering Editor