I KNOW the nature of critics and criticism is all too often clouded by histrionic blather where words like ‘classic’ and ‘masterpiece’ are bandied about with tiring regularity in relation to subjects which more often than not never live up to the hype.
Occasionally, however, the hyperbole is actually justified. Motor writers are no less inclined than, say, art, music or literary critics, to lose the run of themselves in this regard, but occasionally something does come along which immediately stands out from the pack as something special.
That being so, it would be churlish of those responsible for critiquing whatever it is not to label it as anything other than what it is — or will be as time moves on.
Which brings us neatly to this week’s tester, the BMW M235i Coupe which is a car which not only doffs its cap to classics from BMW’s illustrious past, particularly the 02 Series, which would include such gems as the 1600-2 from 1966, the 2002 from 1968 and the 2002 Turbo from 1973.
BMW anal-ists (stet) might well cavil at this suggestion, but I am firmly of the opinion that in 20 or 30 years time when the M235i is subjected to proper historic reflection, it will be subjected to as much reverence as its’ distinguished predecessors.
By now we are all pretty much in tune with BMW’s new model nomenclature, so I’ve no intention of wittering on about all the confusion it has caused, other than to say what is now the 2 Series Coupe used to be the 1 Series Coupe.
What we have at hand is a truly accomplished sporting coupe. It is a car which will, in the fullness of time, rank as one of BMWs singular accomplishments in the coupe genre.
A couple of weeks ago we tried the Audi S3, which although a regular saloon, is probably a closer competitor to the M235i than most and, while brilliantly thrilling to drive with its two litre 300 bhp powerplant and quattro all-wheel drive, it was almost brutish by comparison with its’ Munich rival.
That is not to say that the M235i is lacking in grunt or anything, but the sheer sweetness of the three litre 326 bhp six-cylinder twin-turbo and its ability to deliver humongous amounts of power to the rear wheels of this finely tuned chassis without seemingly turning a hair, makes this a thing of deeply impressive capability.
And it is not just the engine; it is the combination of a whole heap of different characteristics which makes this machine so good. Aside from the engine there is the brilliant eight speed automatic ’box; there’s the front strut and five-link rear suspension arrangement with stiffer M-Sport springs and dampers; there’s the M-Sport braking system with fixed calipers; there’s the wide front and rear track and 50:50 weight distribution; oh, and there’s truly impressive variable sports steering.
Looking closer at the engine shows us that it is capable of propelling the car to a 4.7 second 0-100 kph time and, even more impressively it will dash from 0 to 170 kph in just 11.6 seconds.
With a sonically tuned exhaust adding its own joyous aural accompaniment to proceedings and a handling package that allows you to actually enjoy the power and commitment of the engine without making you feel like a rallycross driver.
Sure you can use heavy wodges of the loud pedal to get you sideways without any difficulty, but that’s not the real point of this thing.
The real point is that here is a car equipped with explosive acceleration, tremendous balance and exceptional grip, pretty much all of which can be used without having to pretend to be a hero. Indeed, you can have as much if not more fun keeping this thing nailed-on as you might think you can hanging the tail out all day.
And the other side of this car that has to be noted too is that for all its’ explosiveness and poised high speed abilities, it is also capable of being a docile and friendly urban cruiser too and will even return a 5.9 l/100 consumption figure — nearly 48 mpg — if you’re not over-extending your right foot too much.
The interior is nice rather than particularly special, but the excellent driving position and the comfort of the driving seat have to be noted. It is relatively practical too with plenty of room for the front passengers and almost enough room for two adults in the back, as well as having a decent boot.
But practicality and the quality of the interior are going to be well down the check list of anyone buying this thing. What they will be looking for — and what they’ll get — is a paragon of sporting excellence which will put a smile on their face every time they climb aboard. I believe this will eventually be rightly deemed a classic and a masterpiece — and for good reason. That reason being: it is simply an outstanding car.
BMW M235i Coupe
****The cost: From €57,718 — €68,274 as tested.
The engine: An absolutely wonderful three litre straight six with twin turbos.
The specification: Comes well kitted out, but as always with Beemers, once you get stuck into the optional equipment costs rise quickly.
The overall verdict: A future classic — now.
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