TAPPING INTO ITS ROOTS: 2022 BMW 230i M SPORT
Being that we’ve been in this industry for nearly a decade, there are still some automotive cherries that need to be popped, like BMW. While we may have dabbled behind the seat of a BMW here and there that was offered up by a friend or two, our experience is less than most in the industry… so then when we stepped foot into the newly re-designed 2-Series, there was an excitable tingling, and it wasn’t just because it was our first.
Holding tight to remanence of what BMW used to be, the 2-Series is carrying quite a lot of weight on its shoulders being the last citadel of hope for the brand. That’s a tall order for such a small car. But as most people know, it isn’t the size of the equipment that matters, it’s how it performs makes all the difference. And, oh boy, there is quite a lot of soulful impact behind this enthusiastic machine.
There is a lot controversy with BMW’s latest design trend and its over-sized grilles; however, the 2-Series doesn’t get caught up in all of that non-sense. It carries a brawny look that represents its growth spirt; after all, it has gotten bigger, now being the size of what the 3-Series was a couple generations ago. We especially like the direction BMW is taking with its unique 3D molded LED taillights that add a unique design element to an already attractive state.
With two performance variants to choose from, the entry 230i’s twin-turbo’s 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is a frisky spirited go-getter. Being the same engine used in the BMW Z4 and Toyota Supra, there is some sports car pedigree behind its alter ego with 255-horsepower and 295 lbs-ft of torque pipped to the rear wheels. Now if living on the wild side is more your pedigree, the high-performance 302-horsepower M240i with its twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter straight-six cylinder might be more your speed with standard xDrive all-wheel drive.
Losing course of the manual transmission ways, the 230i comes equipped with an 8-speed automatic only. While discouraging as it may be, facts are facts that automatics are definitely quicker and this 230i is no slouch with 60-mph being achieved in just under 5.5-seconds. The differential definitely comes out to play delivering its lump of torque evenly for crisp acceleration off the line. The transmission is spot on with the harsh demands with quick changes though the paddle gearbox and even when left to its own devices, it never seemed to alter its course of excitable entertainment.
Short of the M-badging, our sampled 230i was all about the emphasizing the M in impressive. With our subject left as a base $36,350 coupe, it carried nearly eight-grand in ‘M’ upgrades with the M Sport Differential, M Sport Brakes, M Sport Variable Sport Steering, sport suspensions and even sport steering wheel. Known for its ability to cause high levels of uncomfortably, the M Sport Package always carried a love/hate relationship. The 230i on the other hand went to couples counseling and found a middle ground on ride tonnage providing a taut chassis that communicates road qualities with poise and balanced comfort.
Keeping the drive mode to the state of comfort, and we find that steering is a little lack lustering on the curb appeal of motion gratifications. However, sliding the drive mode into Sport as if we’re sliding into someone’s DM’s and things tend to get a little more saucy, coming to life and feeling the soul of the mighty break loose.
Inside the 230i, it feels just as premium as the badge leads it to believe. Soft touch materials fill the cabin on every touchable surface, while the metal and black finishes feels superbly tight as a drum. Even every button and knob has a genuine tactile feel, with the gear lever feeling as if we’re engaging something serious. The interior setting is a comfortable place for the front two occupants – despite growing in size, the interior cabin nearly remains the same size as the previous generation with the back seat losing out on head space due to the sloped roofline. Not like the seats were exactly usable to begin, they’re their mostly for decoration.
Coupes are becoming a rarity these days, but we see the life in the eyes of 2-Series continuing to glisten and sparkle with glee. It provides a glimmer of hope for the BMW brand that maybe that hasn’t quite lost their way down the golden paved path of a crossover lifestyle and still knows how to make an enjoyable coupe.
*Photos provided by BMW of North America – European BMW M240i shown.