2015 BMW M235i: Steering Sells BMWs
July 20, 2015
What's one of the most oft-used descriptions for BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi cars? Anecdotally, I'll say "solid." Or maybe "vault-like." You hear those little chestnuts all the time from us, the car-geek pressery. And while the car nerds take into account everything from chassis welds to spring rates to door thunk when describing German cars as "solid," I'm convinced that what sells Bimmers like our 2015 BMW M235i to most people is really the steering.
That's after you get past the Roundel's social cachet and relatively generous lease terms, however. For many people, that's the only reason to get a BMW, because it says you can afford more than a Honda Civic (Bob Marley once said he owned one for an entirely different reason: it bore the initials of his band, Bob Marley and the Wailers. He was probably also the only guy that could leave his car unlocked around Kingston, Jamaica, in the 1970s).
But whether you come to a BMW as a learned enthusiast or hollow materialist, I think the steering is the first line of defense in that impregnable opinion of "solid." Grab the wheel in our M235i and you're immediately impressed with its thickness and fat grip. Your subconscious makes some kind of connection with racing and high-performance. Sure our car has the M-specific wheel and not the standard issue, but regardless, BMW wheels feel right.
Back out of the driveway and onto the street and the first thing you notice is the weight. Steering effort is firm but fluid, with a thick on-center feel and just the right amount of resistance to impart a feeling of substantial mass in front of and underneath you.
Our car has variable sport steering, which adjusts ratio based not only on speed but also steering angle, but you need to be hustling through some bends to really appreciate this feature (BMW says the VSS is specifically calibrated to the M235i, but doesn't elaborate). But even BMWs with plain-old Servotronic (speed-based dynamic steering) or all-assist, all-the-time, share this same feeling.
Dan Frio, Automotive Editor