The BMW M2 still looks amazing, no? Broad shoulders, squat stance and – in the latest Competition variant – a 410hp straight-six make it the perfect halo. But so great is its standing that you’re looking at a sizeable step down if you opt for the model beneath it, particularly when it comes to visual clout; boot badge aside, the M235i/M240i barely differs in appearance from your average 218i. In comparison to the M2, it’s unmistakably a lesser sibling.
It’s not short of actual performance, though. While the styling may not shout about it, an M-fettled 2 Series has always been about mixing turbocharged straight-six power and rear-drive in a two-door coupe body. That’s a recipe that feels special now more than ever, what with the new M135i signaling BMW’s shift to all-wheel drive and four cylinders at this end of its line-up. It's a crying shame, because the M235i has always been successful in delivering sports car performance alongside genuine day-to-day usability. The model is arguably the most interesting compact Q car you can buy today.
Compared to the 1 Series hatch with which it shares most of its underpinnings, the M235i is the sharper tool in the box. It’s got a slight advantage with a closer to perfect weight distribution (it’s 53/47), which helps unlock quicker responses from the front end. Even the earliest versions of the M-tuned 2 Series came with 326hp, directed exclusively to the rear wheels. It does that well enough out of the box, but those wanting optimum performance have been required to fork out two grand for the optional M Sport limited-slip diff.
Even without the diff, the M235i’s real-world pace is really very good. And while an M2 – which is both far more potent and stiffer – would leave it for dead on circuit, the step down in fun isn’t as drastic as you might think. When it launched back in 2014 the car cost just over £34k - and felt like good value for it. The M235i has never been without its faults – the steering lacks feel, and you wouldn’t want to be a tall passenger in the back – but the overall package remains a compelling one.
Especially so when a six-year-old example is listed for half its original price. Today’s Spotted has just 26,000 miles on the clock, a miniscule number for its age, and is listed at just short of £17k. There are younger cars for sale, but we’re drawn to this early, one-owner M235i, which appears to be in fantastic condition. Compared to the black and grey cars listed, it arguably looks more sporting in white. Either way, it's anything but boring and the thought of a rear-drive, two-door, six-pot BMW on sale for less than a 100hp Fiesta ST-Line ought to give anyone pause for thought.
SPECIFICATION - BMW M235i
Engine: 6-cylinder, turbocharged, 2,979cc
Transmission: 8-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 326hp@5800rpm
Torque (lb ft): 332lb ft@1,300-4,500rpm
Recorded mileage: 26,000
First registered: 2014
Price new: £34,250
Yours for: £16,995