REVIEW | Did BMW stumble upon the ideal four-door saloon with its new M235i xDrive?

• The M235i xDrive Gran Coupé is the top model in BMW's 2 Series line-up.

• It is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine.

• This car retails from just under R800 000.

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There's just something about BMW's 225kW engine. You know, that turbocharged 2.0-litre block that also churns out 450Nm. This engine does duty in BMW's 1 Series and 2 Series and is mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox and all-wheel drive.

It may not sound all too exciting, but don't let the modesty of it all fool you. This is a machine that bites and grips when you floor the throttle. It races up the rev meter, hooking the next gear with vigour as you reach 6000rpm.

And each gear change is accompanied by loud snaps and barks that are emitted through the double exhausts. Addictive it is, but surely an inspiring process that will leave you wanting more - every time.

BMW M235i xDrive

2020 BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupé (PressClub / BMW SA)

Polarising design

Let's step outside to discuss the design of the M235i xDrive Gran Coupé. It's an aspect many people might have an issue with, given that it comes together as a bit of a… mash. In the front, it draws inspiration from its 1 Series sibling. The rear takes on a more dramatic approach.

While both show clear intent for the car's purpose, there is very little to suggest that it is the same car. View each section individually, and you will be forgiven for thinking it's different vehicles. The front, with its huge grille and imposing air intakes, does not complement the intent-driven rear. The aft design is a personal favourite and is probably be the only thing most road users will see.

Given that it's a Gran Coupé, the car has four doors and a usable boot. The sloping roof might lead to limited headroom for taller passengers, but it should be of little bother given that there is ample legroom to slant down in the seat.

Wheels24's Janine van der Post says: "Sporty coupés have long lost [their] appeal in my books, but only because my priorities have changed since having my own family. So when the 235i arrived, I hardly had any butterflies, until my daughter saw it and said: 'That's a very pretty blue car Mom, can we go for a drive?'"

"So I got her car seat and strapped her in. I was surprised that the space at the rear was more efficient than I had expected, especially for a coupé. We both doted on the soft-to-the-touch Dakota leather seats, albeit almost at a R20 000 extra cost. But hey, if you can afford the option, it sure is worth having. 

"The rear of the car has 'stance' written all over it, yet its front has a more "softer" design than its usual assertive looks we've become accustomed to with BMW. 

"It wasn't until I needed to give a relative a quick lift home to Saldanha Bay and make it back home in time before curfew, that I realised just how thrilling this car is to drive after all. It's quick, and it's extremely comfortable on the road. And despite it being AWD, you can feel the front wheels working harder as you drive. There's loads of traction and grip, and the car feels solid on the road whether you're cruising or pushing it through the paces."

BMW M235i xDrive

2020 BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupé (PressClub / BMW SA)

Perhaps a bit pricey?

At its base, the BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupé begins life at R795 864. Yip, almost R800k. The challenge, perhaps, is justifying it to Joe Daily, because if you want to make the car feel special and unique, you'd have to look at the options list.

To put it in perspective, here are some of the optional features our test unit came with:

• Adaptive suspension: R7 600

• Dakota leather seats: R17 500

• Electric front seats with memory function: R13 900

• Tyre pressure monitor: R4 500

• Panoramic sunroof: R13 900

Total: R57 400

And remember, these are not all the extras.

BMW M235i xDrive

2020 BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupé (PressClub / BMW SA)

So, should you consider it?

Here's the thing. When you are looking to buy a car, you do so with a specific purpose in mind. And the purchase decision will, in most cases, be a direct result of that. If you have R800k to spare and want a four-door car that offers all the thrills and spills, then I'd be willing to bet you won't not be disappointed in your acquisition.

The basic car, however, might be a bit dull for some, so don't be shocked if the salesperson subtly puts the options list under your nose. And if you do tick a few boxes, make sure you tick the right ones. In other words, think about enhancing the driving experience.

But those with a near-bottomless well of money, be careful not to go too wild because this car was also made to run a 250km/h top-end and go from standstill to 100km/h in 4.9 seconds. So just a friendly note: don't spec the car up so much that you deprive it of its soul.


Would the M235i xDrive Gran Coupé be a car you'd consider? Email us with your opinion.


BMW M235i xDrive

2020 BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupé (PressClub / BMW SA)

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