2015 BMW M235i: Performance-Tested — Stiff, Sharp and Committed to Going Fast
May 26, 2015
Our 2015 BMW M235i convertible packs a wallop worthy of the tri-colored M badge. This new model has a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine that generates 322 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. It has an eight-speed automatic transmission and is driven by the rear wheels.
The convertible is about 300 pounds heavier than the 2014 coupe we tested last year, but it's just as willing to attack corners and deliver a thrilling driving experience. Read on for our instrumented performance numbers gathered at the test track.
Vehicle: 2015 BMW M235i Convertible
Driver: Josh Jacquot and Mike Monticello
Drive Type: Rear-wheel drive
Transmission Type: 8-speed automatic
Engine Type: Turbocharged inline-6
Displacement (cc/cu-in): 2,979 / 182
Redline (rpm): 7,000
Horsepower (hp @ rpm): 322 @ 5,800
Torque (lb-ft @ rpm): 332 @ 1,400
Brake Type (front): One-piece ventilated disc with four-piston fixed calipers
Brake Type (rear): One-piece ventilated disc with dual-piston fixed calipers
Suspension Type (front): MacPherson strut with dual lower ball joints
Suspension Type (rear): Independent multilink
Tire Size (front): 225/40ZR18 88Y
Tire Size (rear): 245/35ZR18 92Y
Tire Brand: Michelin Tire Model: Pilot Super Sport
Tire Type: Asymmetrical, summer
As-Tested Curb Weight (lb): 3,789
0-30 (sec): 2.0 (w/ Traction Control on: 2.2)
0-45 (sec): 3.2 (w/ TC on: 3.5)
0-60 (sec): 4.8 (w/TC on: 5.3)
0-60 with 1-ft Rollout (sec): 4.6 (w/TC on: 5.0)
0-75 (sec): 6.9 (w/TC on: 7.5)
1/4-Mile (sec @ mph): 13.1 @ 105.1 (w/TC on: 13.5 @ 103.2)
30-0 (ft): 26
60-0 (ft): 104
Slalom (mph): 71.3 (69.3 w/ESC on)
Skid Pad Lateral acceleration (g): 0.93 (0.93 w/ESC on)
RPM @ 70: 2,000
Acceleration: The super-smooth engine has plenty of power everywhere and loves to rev. The car gets off the line with minimal hesitation and then revs hard to its upshift point. Shifts are quick yet smooth.
The launch control system is a bit odd: It seems more like power-braking (overlapping gas and brake pedals at the line to bring the revs up), as the car wants to creep forward and it doesn't allow the revs to rise very much as most systems do. You know you're in "launch control" when a display lights up on the instrument panel. Also, it was finicky. Sometimes it would get way too much wheelspin, other times it wouldn't get any. All of this leads me to believe it's a launch control system in name only.
Still, our quickest run did come with "launch control" in Sport Plus mode with traction control off. I think we lucked into the right amount of wheelspin. Our next-quickest run was with the car in Sport Plus mode, transmission in Sport, stability control fully turned off, and using power-braking. We got very little wheelspin on that run, but the transmission went into some kind of quick-shift mode, with much more abrupt upshifts. Still, it was three-tenths slower to 60 than the coupe version we last tested, although this convertible is almost 300 pounds heavier. Manual shifting is via steering wheel paddles or the console lever (push forward for downshifts). It blips the throttle on downshifts and will hold gears to a 7,300-rpm limiter.
Braking: The M235i exhibits excellent braking abilities. Pedal was firm with short travel and hardly any ABS noise was heard. Exhibited minimal nosedive and the car stayed perfectly straight on every run with hardly any brake pad odor by the final stop. Braking distances were minimal thanks to zero pedal fade.
The first stop was the shortest at 104 feet, the fourth stop the longest at 107 feet and the sixth and final stop was 106 feet. Overall, braking is a stable, secure and confidence-inspiring experience.
Handling Slalom: This is a real driver's car with sporting intentions that become more obvious the further you dial up its drive modes. In Sport Plus, it's stiff and sharp and wholly committed to the task of going fast. In this mode, ESC is marginalized until it's desperately needed. And it's stiff enough that more compliance is needed on an imperfect surface. Plus, it'll lay down a very respectable slalom speed without much hassle. The car is capable and fast in rapid transitions.
Handling Skidpad: The BMW has lots of grip and relatively heavy steering effort. It's a bit of job to wrestle the M235i around the skid pad, but it's clearly capable and impressive as a driver's car. It doesn't step out under power very easily, but would rather stick and turn.
Cameron Rogers, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 1,279 miles