Today, 06:07 PM
Road and Track decided a comparison between the 2016 BMW F22 228i, 2015 F22 M235i, and 2016 F87 M2 was necessary. You already know which is the highest performance model of the trio but it is nice to see a full test of the cars together including roadcourse times.
Let's start with the incorrect perception that the 2-Series and namely the M2 is some kind of E30 successor. The E30 never weighed 3506 pounds as the M235i does and that is with a manual transmission. With the automatic the M235i is even heavier.
Interestingly, they include E30 M3 test figures and although the S14 naturally aspirated four-cylinder clearly shows its age the E30 chassis shows how BMW's weight is ballooning. There is a massive difference between a 28XX pound car like the E30 M3 and a 35XX car like the M235i. The F22 and F87 are not E30 spiritual successors so get that nonsense out of your head. These cars are heavier than E46 3-Series models.
The 228i actually makes the best case for a light and fun driver's BMW (aren't all BMW's supposed to be driving machines?) as its N20 four-cylinder provides the best weight distribution and lightest curb weight at 3341 pounds. Not light, but lighter than any other BMW coupe in production and that even includes the Z4.
The thing is, the 228i N20 is being replaced by the B48 engine. The M235i is getting the B58 which will replace the N55 in the 2015 model used in this test. If R&T waited a bit to do this comparison we would have a much better idea of how the non-M 2-Series models stack up as the new engines offer superior performance. Especially the B58 engine.
That means the acceleration gap between these cars should get closer:
Each of the trio utilizes the 6-speed manual option. That means the M2 would be significantly quicker with the DCT transmission option that the M235i does not have and likely does not have to prevent the M235i stepping on the M2's toes. It is clear that with the new B58 engine and the automatic transmission option the M235i and manual M2 will be too close for comfort.
Acceleration stacks up as you expect based on the pricing and power figures. How about the track performance? Well, let's take a look:
The numbers are as they should be with the 228i in the rear, the M235i in the middle, and the M2 up front. What else do you expect to happen? What is interesting here to note is that the E82 1M and F87 M2 are virtually identical. Yes, the M2 has a slight and almost insignificant edge. Around the track. it's a driver's race between the two. Unless you have a DCT transmission in the M2 which the 1M did not have as an option. Still, manual to manual is almost a dead heat.
What is interesting to note is that the 228i in the tight transitions outpaces the other two. Yes, less weight and better balance account for that. If BMW truly wanted to make an E30 M3 successor they should have built an M version of the N20 or B48 engine for the 228i and stripped out 200 pounds. A 3100 pound M car with 50/50 weight distribution and a high revving turbo four-cylinder actually would be something to take seriously as an E30 M3 spiritual successor. BMW missed the target. More importantly, they didn't care to hit it.
The M2 with its superior differential and power of course wins all the performance metrics. So what though? It's not as good as it could be and it is not what it should be. The N55B30T0 engine is just an N55 with the S55 closed deck block. It's not a revver and certainly not a Motorsport engine.
Sure, it's a good car. It's just not a great car. Nobody seems to mind or complain though and BMW will sell plenty of them. Being good enough to keep the sales figures increasing is all that matters today. It's too bad. The M2 could (and should) have been something special.