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BMW M235i vs. BMW 435i M Sport

BMW M235i

BMW M235i

Price: £34,260

The BMW M135i has been hailed as one of the motoring bargains of the century. The BMW M235i, meanwhile, has escaped this title thanks to a) being released after the hot 1-Series and b) costing give-or-take £5,000 more. But it's still a fantastic deal; can you think of another 5 second 0 - 62 mph car with RWD and a chassis that's designed to perform as well on the road as on the track that costs under £35k?

Didn't think so.

The M235i then is the best drivers car you can get for the price new. It serves up 326 horsepower and 332 lb /ft of torque through a six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic gearbox, which is sent through to the rear wheels and fed through a very clever traction control system that shuffles the power between each corner for the best grip. It really is a blisteringly quick car, with the only cars at this price point that can keep up featuring all-wheel-drive (think Audi S3, and Mercedes-Benz A45 AMG).

It also looks the part. The standard 2-Series is a little too conservative for my liking, but the M235i with its big alloys, fat arches, and deep bumpers - along with lowered ride height and optional blue paint job - looks incredible and like the true successor to the stunning BMW M1 Coupe (this car isn't a sequel, but it is closely related as far as design and size goes). This stretches to the interior, where the 2-Series enjoys many of the parts of the M135i but has an all-round nicer design, with a little more space up front but marginally less space in the rear.

Some of the materials are unique to the M235i, and little sporty touches such as the sports steering wheel, unique fascia design and badges make the M235i a special place to be.

As blistering as this car is in a straight line - the 3.0-litre turbocharged engine delivers sports car pace, well above hot hatch pace - it is in the corners where it really shines; the chassis is extremely forgiving on harsh roads, and on smoother roads the car comes alive with the playfulness you would expect from a BMW range-topper, which is to say controllable drifts are easily achievable.

Incredibly, the 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six engine in this car is also reasonably economical. It will return up to 34.9 mpg according to BMW and emits only 189 g/km of CO2 with the 6-speed manual gearbox, which amazingly is the same as a 2.0-litre turbocharged Astra GTC VXR... which is to say certain manufacturers need to step up their efficiency game.

The combination of performance, luxury, and accessible pricing makes the BMW M235i one of the best performance cars on the market right now. But for buyers who seek more luxury and more practicability, there is a BMW with the same heart that costs a little more...

BMW 435i M Sport

BMW 435i M Sport

Price: £41,665

As we have already mentioned, the BMW 4-Series 435i shares the same engine as the M235i, but it is down on power; the engine in this car makes 302 horsepower and 295 lb /ft, versus 326 horsepower and 332 lb /ft in the M235i. The result of this is that the BMW 435i is four tenths of a second slower from 0 - 62 mph than the M235i, completing the sprint in 5.4 seconds versus 5 seconds flat. Both cars do however share the same top speed, and both produce the exact same addictive burble generated by the stunning 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six.

The biggest difference between these two cars is the way they ride. The BMW 435i is not an out-and-out racer; it's a sports car, sure, but the car sits higher than the M235i and as a result of this it is softer, and it is also the better car for cruising, thanks to better sound-proofing. This is a result of the 4-Series being based on the 3-Series, whereas the 2-Series is based on the 1-Series. This means that the soundproofing in the 4-Series is better, and also that the interior parts are better too. The 435i is also more spacious and practical than the M235i, with a 445-litre boot versus 390-litres.

You get a sense of why the 435i costs so much more than the M235i from the driver's seat. Every material has been carried over from the 3-Series, which essentially means you get an incredibly well thought out and well built interior that inspires confidence. The 2-Series inspires the same, but because it shares the parts of the 1-Series, it isn't as luxurious and this may sway luxury-seekers toward the 435i.

There's no mistaking the fact that this extra luxury has come at the expense of fun though; the M235i is the faster and more agile machine, no matter how focused BMW has tried to make the 435i. The 435i is exceptionally balanced and there's lots of power to have fun with but on a twisty country lane - and even more so on the track - the BMW M235i is the machine you will want to be in.

Perhaps, then, the 435i is the best all-rounder here today. It's spacious, luxurious, reasonably comfortable on M Sport suspension, and it handles and goes well enough. The M235i meanwhile cannot match the class if the 435i, although it is by far the more driver-focused machine.

Overall

If you want a fast and luxurious cruiser, the BMW 435i is the way to go about it. The M235i is an exceptional piece of kit for the money, though, so if you can trade some luxury for the money you will save, you can't go wrong with BMW's hottest 2-Series. 

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