New BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupe 2020 review

The new BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupe is based on the M135i hatch, but its set-up is a little softerVerdict3On paper the BMW M235i xDrive is a quick and economical car, more spacious than you might think, and well equipped. But in reality, it is not the most convincing car ever to wear the magic M badge. Some will like it but we’re not so sure. A 220d Gran Coupe is a better car overall, and is more suited to the Gran Coupé formula.

The four-door coupe is a weird kind of animal. But it’s a new-ish kind of design, invented by Mercedes with the original CLS in 2004 and now copied increasingly by the rest of the industry. Here’s the latest from BMW, the all-new £37,255 BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupe.

It’s powered by the same potent but uninspiring 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine as the M135i, and uses a slightly softer version of that car’s four-wheel-drive chassis. The M235i Gran Coupe might be an odd-looking car on the eye – but on paper it’s a lot harder to argue against.

• New BMW 220d Gran Coupe review

It gets lots of kit as standard and has 302bhp and 450Nm of torque, so it can hit 62mph from rest in just 4.9 seconds. Yet it can also do a respectable 42mpg.

Its packaging is different to, rather than improving on, the 1 Series on which it’s based. The rear seats are just about big enough for a six-foot-tall passenger to sit behind a similar driver, even if headroom isn’t especially generous. The boot is a lot bigger than the 1 Series’ when the rear seats are in place, although it lacks the flexibility of the M135i’s hatchback layout.

On the move the M235i is a strange mix. Its performance is strong going on excellent, and there’s not much to complain about with the steering, the chassis responses, the grip or the car’s composure. Here the M235i ticks all the right boxes, and then some.

But the engine has no aural character, and the chassis feels strangely blunt for a car with the letter M at the start of its name, even in its sportiest setting. So it’s hard not to be a touch disappointed by the M235i, despite its fundamentally fine capabilities.

Ultimately the M235i Gran Coupe feels as if it’s trying to be something it isn’t. It doesn’t deserve to have the M badge, so the 220d Gran Coupe feels like a more rounded car overall.

Key specs

  • Model: BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupe
  • Price: £37,255
  • Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo
  • Power/torque: 302bhp/450Nm
  • Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 4.9 seconds
  • Top speed: 155mph
  • Economy/CO2: 42.1mpg/153g/km
  • On sale: Now

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