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Nobody needs a sports car. That is, until you let a good one get under your skin and then you realize how much you really need to hop in and do some stylish gallivanting. BMW’s new M235i is frisky. Should you be accustomed to driving some hulking leviathan, your first time zipping around a corner in this car will leave you feeling totally liberated.

Its elder sibling—the BMW 3-Series—is already a capable performer, no question, but like all sedans it has grown larger as it’s matured. The 2-Series is meant to restore BMW’s sporty reputation. Handling is very well sorted out. It is a finished, accomplished machine with a refined, comfortable interior. The “M” prefix designates BMW’s ultra-sporty line, and in this realm the M235i undercuts the M3 by about $15,000, in addition to offering much better gas mileage.

With its semi-useful rear seats, the M235i is more practical than a two-seat sports car like the Z4. (Rear seats also get an approving nod from your insurance broker.) The trunk is just moderately sized; packing golf clubs means lowering the rear seat backs.

On the road, it has two distinct personalities, Sport or Comfort, available by merely flipping a switch. Going to Sport firms up the suspension and holds the eight-speed automatic in gear a little longer, which results in ushering a hushed snarl into the cabin. It’s actually a sound effect coming through the speakers. The neighbors will appreciate this! The Comfort mode might still be 10 percent too taut for some drivers. Should you drop by the dealership for a test, be sure to get some decent miles on it—a short outing might not reveal the car’s thorough goodness (not to mention its badness). By day two, I just wanted to jump in and take off for the sweeping country lanes. In brief, I wanted my personal sport mode back. The M235i gives it to you.



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