Used 2016 BMW 2 Series M235i Review
Ever wonder if a BMW might be right for you? The entry-level 2 Series is a good place to start, as it blends performance and luxury into a compact package that's more affordable than you might think. Interested to hear more?
For those looking for a small luxury car that can both dominate a winding mountain road and cruise the highway in complete comfort, there are few true competitors to the extremely capable 2016 BMW 2 Series.
At 175 inches long, the 2016 BMW 2 Series is just 2 inches shorter than the first-generation 3 Series coupe
Like the 1 Series before it, the 2 Series combines a small footprint with a choice of powerful engines for impressive results. Even in its base form, the 2 Series lays down impressive performance stats (it makes the 0-60 mph sprint just 0.4-second slower than a Ford Mustang GT). Step up to the 320-horsepower M235i and you'll get a car that is even more dynamically impressive, with bigger wheels, upgraded brakes and adjustable suspension (or order the 228i with the Track Handling package for the same performance upgrades).
But the 2 Series isn't all about straight-line speed and cornering abilities. While sporty, the suspension is well-tuned so the 2 Series never feels rough on the road. Its small footprint makes it easy to maintain lane integrity on the highway, and parking is similarly worry-free. Inside, the cabin is replete with high-quality materials for the entry-luxury class and looks like a slightly scaled-down version of the slightly larger 4 Series. About the only thing we can find fault with is that the 2 Series' compact size and driver-focused nature means the backseats are tight and suitable only for small children.
Others in the compact luxury class might be better options if more interior room is what you're looking for. The Audi A3 (or S3), Cadillac ATS and Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class all offer four doors and slightly larger backseats (though that's like saying Connecticut is bigger than Delaware and Rhode Island; it might be true, but all of them are pretty small). If you want excellent performance but at a lower price, check out the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang. Both are fresh designs and achieve new levels of driving refinement and interior quality. However, if a thrilling and sophisticated driving experience is what you're after, the 2 Series is the car to beat.
trim levels & features
The 2016 BMW 2 Series is a two-door coupe or convertible with seating for four. There are two trim levels: 228i and M235i. The convertibles are equipped similarly to the coupes, except they feature automatic pop-up roll hoops, a removable wind deflector and a power-operated fabric roof that's black by default (a brown roof with metallic weave is available).
The convertible folding top on the 2016 BMW 2 Series takes about 21 seconds to raise and lower.
The 228i comes standard with 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, automatic wipers, automatic dual-zone climate control, leatherette (premium vinyl) upholstery, a tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel (with paddle shifters on automatic-transmission models), eight-way manual front seats and 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks. The standard electronics array includes Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, BMW's iDrive electronics interface with a 6.5-inch display and a seven-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD radio and a USB port.
A Premium package is available for the 228i, which bundles power-folding heated side mirrors, auto-dimming side and rearview mirrors, ambient exterior and interior lighting, keyless entry and ignition, 10-way power front sport seats, driver memory functions and satellite radio.
Aside from its more powerful six-cylinder engine, the M235i adds 18-inch wheels, summer performance tires, adaptive suspension dampers, sportier variable-ratio steering, upgraded brakes, adaptive xenon headlights with LED accent lights, a sport exhaust system, gray exterior mirror caps, an aerodynamic body kit, dark ("Shadowline") exterior trim, a rear spoiler and a sunroof (on the coupe). Inside, you'll find upgraded aluminum trim and an M Sport steering wheel. Additionally, the M235i comes standard with the Premium package.
Two options packages bring performance features from the M235i to the 228i, and can be ordered independently or in addition to each other. The M Sport package adds several of the performance-oriented features of the M235i. These include 18-inch wheels with several tire options, an aerodynamic body kit, Shadowline exterior trim, a sport suspension and an M Sport steering wheel. The Track Handling package includes 18-inch wheels, upgraded brakes, adaptive suspension and variable steering.
The comfort-oriented Luxury package adds 18-inch wheels, leather seats and chrome exterior trim to the Premium package, and cannot be ordered with the M Sport package.
Several other packages are available on both the 228i and M235i. The Cold Weather package includes headlight washers, heated front seats and a heated steering wheel. The Technology package adds a higher-resolution 8.8-inch display screen, an upgraded iDrive controller with a touchpad (allowing freehand text entry), an enhanced driver information display, a navigation system, BMW Apps (including Pandora and Facebook integration) and BMW Remote Services (allowing smartphone control of remote start and climate settings, among others).
The Driver Assistance package adds front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera. You can also order the 2 Series with the Driver Assistance Plus package (requires the Premium and Technology packages) and receive automatic high-beam headlights, a lane departure warning system and a forward collision mitigation system with automatic braking and pedestrian detection.
Stand-alone options for the 228i include 18-inch wheels, adaptive xenon headlights, heated front seats, power-operated front seats and a sunroof. A limited-slip differential is available exclusively with the M235i. Optional on both models are leather upholstery, a self-parking system, enhanced Bluetooth and USB connectivity and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system.
Eighteen-inch wheels are available on the 228i in several packages or as a stand-alone option.
performance & mpg
The 2016 BMW 2 Series is rear-wheel drive by default, but all-wheel drive ("xDrive") is optional on every model. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard, with a six-speed manual offered as a no-cost option on RWD models only.
The 228i has a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 240 hp and 255 pound-feet of torque. In Edmunds testing, a RWD 228i coupe with the automatic ran from zero to 60 mph in just 5.1 seconds.
The M235i steps up to a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine that pumps out 320 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque. We hustled a rear-wheel-drive M235i automatic to 60 mph in a blistering 4.5 seconds (4.8 seconds for the convertible).
EPA-estimated fuel economy for the 2 Series depends on which engine you choose and whether you prefer a coupe or convertible. Both the all- and rear-wheel-drive 228i coupes with the automatic transmission earn 27 mpg combined (23 city/35 highway). The RWD 228i manual drops to 26 mpg combined (22/34). The convertible 228i gets an estimate of 27 mpg combined (23/34) with RWD and 26 mpg combined (22/34) with AWD.
Fuel economy estimates for the M235i automatic stand at 24 mpg combined (20 city/31 highway) with RWD, and 23 mpg combined (20 city/30 highway) with AWD. The M235i coupe with a manual transmission drops to 22 mpg combined (19 city/28 highway), while the convertible earns 2 mpg less on the highway.
All 2 Series models have an automatic stop-start function, which shuts off the engine when you're stopped to save fuel. Automatic-transmission cars also have a launch control feature.
A manual transmission is offered as a no-cost option on rear-wheel-drive models.
Standard safety equipment on the 2016 BMW 2 Series includes four-wheel antilock disc brakes (with brake-drying and fading-compensation features), traction and stability control, and hill-start assist for manual-transmission cars. Front-seat side airbags, front knee airbags and (on the coupe) full-length side curtain airbags are also standard.
Optional safety equipment includes front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, a lane-departure warning system and a frontal collision warning and mitigation system with automatic braking.
During Edmunds testing, a 228i M Sport came to a stop from 60 mph in 111 feet, a better-than-average performance. The M235i was even more impressive, performing the same task in only 106 feet (104 feet for the convertible).
The independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave the 2 Series its top rating of "Good" in the small-overlap frontal-offset, moderate-overlap frontal-offset, side impact and roof-strength tests. The 2 Series' seat and head restraint design was also rated "Good" for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
The 2016 BMW 2 Series is one of the few cars able to strike the perfect balance between luxury and sportiness. The civilized ride is firm but never harsh, even with the adjustable dampers in their most aggressive setting. The convertible's soft top doesn't isolate wind and road noise from the cabin as well as the coupe, which is extremely quiet. In normal driving situations, the 2 Series behaves like any other small luxury car. But when the road gets twisty, the 2 Series comes alive. Its precise steering inspires confidence, and we found not a hint of body roll even in the tight left-right transitions on our slalom test course. Superb handling that doesn't come at the expense of everyday livability, and several powerful engines make the 2 Series easy to recommend.
The four-cylinder in the 228i proves that engines don't need outlandish horsepower or torque figures to provide a thrilling driving experience. The car feels so much more powerful than its 240-hp output suggests, and if you don't drive the M235i, you may not feel the need for its extra power. But step into that car and you're quickly reminded why BMW's inline-6 engines are among the all-time greats. A small car with 320 hp is a sure-fire recipe for blistering performance, as we found when we tested an M235i and found it just 0.1 second slower from zero to 60 mph than the almighty M4. You really can't go wrong with either engine. The eight-speed automatic transmission is another highlight, responding smoothly and quickly to commands. It's heartening to see BMW has kept the sweet six-speed manual as a no-cost option for those who want a tactile connection to this entry-level sports car.
Inside, the 2 Series employs an understated, driver-centric control layout that will be instantly familiar to BMW fans. Materials quality is very good for an entry-level luxury vehicle, giving up little to the ostensibly fancier 4 Series. BMW's iDrive infotainment system controls one of two available displays: the base 6.5-inch version or the Technology package's crisper 8.8-inch widescreen. While the iDrive system looks good and responds quickly to commands, we've found it often requires a few more clicks and whirls of the dial to access desired functions as compared to Audi's MMI or Mercedes' COMAND interfaces.
The interior of the 2016 BMW 2 Series is well-appointed, and will be familiar to fans of the 4 Series.
The ultra-supportive sport seats that are now standard on all versions of the 2 Series provide a high degree of adjustability and are comfortable even on long treks. As for rear passenger space, the 2 Series is a compact car, and adults won't fit comfortably unless they're compact themselves. That's not unusual for the segment, though, and the backseat works nicely as a parcel shelf or a place to buckle in small children.
Trunk capacity in the coupe is a respectable 13.8 cubic feet, and the rear seatbacks fold down to allow transport of longer items. In the convertible, trunk space drops to about 9 cubic feet.
edmunds expert review process
This review was written by a member of Edmunds' editorial team of expert car reviewers. Our team drives every car you can buy. We put the vehicles through rigorous testing, evaluating how they drive and comparing them in detail to their competitors.
We're also regular people like you, so we pay attention to all the different ways people use their cars every day. We want to know if there's enough room for our families and our weekend gear and whether or not our favorite drink fits in the cupholder. Our editors want to help you make the best decision on a car that fits your life.