What are you driving?
The BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupe, following on from our first drive of the 220d M Sport version elsewhere in the newly launched range. Thing is, the 220d is perfectly civilised and good-natured for everyday driving, but somewhat lacking in sparkle when it comes to handling and driver involvement. Not very coupe-esque, in other words, even if using the word 'coupe' for a four-door machine is something of a misnomer in the first place.
This, though, is the 2 Series Gran Coupe's M Performance flagship. It's the M235i and, before we go further, don't get your hopes up - it's not the revival of the rear-driven, six-cylinder machine of the same name that we drove back in 2014. Instead, it uses the 306hp/450Nm 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine already used other group products like the M135i, the hottest version of the X2 crossover and also the latest MINI John Cooper Works models.
Power goes to all four wheels via an eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic gearbox and, despite the M235i Gran Coupe weighing a portly 1,645kg, it'll still run 0-100km/h in 4.9 seconds and go on to a limited 250km/h top speed. It is the only new 2 Series Gran Coupe whose starting price tag is the wrong side of 50 thousand Euro, but it is also likely to represent the pinnacle of the 2 Gran Coupe line-up in perpetuity, as a full-blown M2 Gran Coupe is not on the cards.
Name its best bits
The addition of the 306hp engine obviously brings a lot more pizzazz to the 2 Series Gran Coupe party. It's a really good powerplant, this, with lag-free delivery, loads of reach and a strength of performance that has you double-checking it really is a four, rather than a turbocharged inline-six. There's perhaps just a shade too much enhancement of its sound when it's performing at its hardest in Sport mode, but otherwise you can't fault the powertrain of the M235i. It feels like a ridiculously quick car, in all conditions.
A bigger part of its brilliance, however, is the xDrive system. It's not quite a substitute for BMW's decision to use front-wheel drive for the 2 Series Gran Coupe range, but it balances out the nose-led tendencies we experienced in the 220d to a huge degree. There's still not enough adjustability to the back of the car on the throttle, which is something BMWs normally possess, so the M235i is not the most out-and-out thrilling car we can think of in this category, but this drives much more like a desirable 'coupe' ought to do.
Anything that bugs you?
Those looks. Not even M Performance spec, nice colours and a set of black alloys can save the M235i from the same 'been hit repeatedly, and hard, with the ugly stick' appearance as its regular siblings. Also, with the M135i already existing and the X2 M35i driving a lot better than it has any right to, there are already two perfectly practical, far-more-appealing-to-look-at and (in the case of the M135i) cheaper alternatives in the BMW showroom to choose from. So, you kind of only would buy the M235i Gran Coupe on the strength of its exterior styling alone. You see the dilemma, then.
And why have you given it this rating?
Much more exciting to drive than the front-wheel-drive versions of the 2 Series Gran Coupe, the M235i is well-executed and feels good from behind the wheel. But it's still expensive, it's still appalling to look at, it's not exactly cheap to buy and run and it still feels ever so slightly, well... pointless. Unless you've always wanted a 2 Series with more than two doors and you just couldn't stomach the idea of either an Active or Gran Tourer, but for some reason you don't mind the look of this thing, we're not sure precisely who is going to buy the latest BMW Gran Coupe.
I want to know more
If there is anything specific you'd like to know about the BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupe that we've not covered, feel free to send us a question via the Ask Us Anything page.