M Designation Ruminations - 2015 BMW M235i Convertible Long-Term Road Test

Edmunds.comEdmunds.com Member, Administrator, Moderator Posts: 10,315
edited November 2015 in BMW
M Designation Ruminations - 2015 BMW M235i Convertible Long-Term Road Test

BMW has started an alarming trend of slapping its storied M badge on several models, including our long-term 2015 BMW M235i. We ponder the state of its M Division.

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  • desmoliciousdesmolicious Member Posts: 671
    But can you get a GT350 at MSRP?
  • daryleasondaryleason Member Posts: 501
    This actually ties in nicely with the Renegade Trail-Hawk Post by @ed hedwig . It's an example of how over time, car companies shift perspective. My point in Ed's post was that it's similar to the F-150. At one point, the F-150's top of the line pickup was an XLT. If your truck had that package, you had all the goodies, so to speak. Now, it's a mid-grade option package. At one point, the "Explorer" was a trim package for the F-150. Then it became an SUV. A "Ranger" was an option package. Then it became the small pickup that I whine about not being available for sale new in the United States.

    Consumers, unfortunately, are sheep. We follow the masses. And we're also cursed, collectively, with short attention spans. Couple that with everyone wanting to be trendy, and it's easy to see how car companies can move vehicles just by slapping a label on something.

    Look at the current Taurus. I like the Taurus. I think the current car is a great car, for what it's designed for. But Ford nearly killed it totally when it did that bubble design in the late 90s. No one liked it. So they replaced it with the Ford Five Hundred. A car that looked and performed much better. But the Five Hundred label was too far removed from most people's memories. They had no clue about Galaxie 500 full size sedans rumbling around in the 50s and 60s. So what did Ford do? They brought back the Taurus by slapping the name on the Five Hundred. Sales did go up. Then they redesigned for what they have now. All the manufactures do it.
  • millemanmilleman Member Posts: 19
    Jason Kavanagh, that was one of the best-written, thoughtful and spot-on short essays I've read in these long-term car tests I've been perusing over the years.
  • apex_itapex_it Member Posts: 6
    Jason, you're absolutely spot on! I drove M3s for 15 years before moving onto a Carrera S, and why? BMW ///M lost their "special-ness." Their cars became larger, heavier, less nimble, and no longer special. The ///M brand became a ///Marketing brand similar to AMG, and everywhere you looked ///M badges graced BMWs of all ranges, no longer representing the racing heritage it stemmed from. Of course sales drives all in the market, and the ///M badge equals sales.
  • nagantnagant Member Posts: 176
    VAG was as arrogant as BMW is now......they think they can do no wrong but they are very, very wrong. German companies are either at your throat or at your feet. VW is kissing every [non-permissible content removed] they can......until they start doing well again. BMW will have a fall as well.....I cant wait.
  • roadburnerroadburner Member Posts: 17,245
    Having owned an E24 M6 as well as an early M Sport, I am also disappointed by BMW's slide into mediocrity. My mildly tweaked Mazdaspeed 3 is more engaging to drive than most any car in Munich's current lineup. It will soon be replaced by either a new STI or a 2013 Boss 302. As another long time BMW enthusiast put it, "The Ultimate Driving Machine has left the building."

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport; 2020 C43; 2021 Sahara 4xe 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2015 X1 xDrive28i Son's: 2009 328i; 2018 330i xDrive

  • allthingshondaallthingshonda Member Posts: 878
    Agreeing with everyone else here. BMW is lost in the wilderness. People have been drunk on their Kool Aid for a long time now. Their slide down began a while back. When Infiniti introduced the G35, it reminded people that you don't have to spend crazy BMW money to get a excellent performance sedan. BMW responded by changing their design philosophy of same sausage different size to the softer more luxurious cars. Along the way the M became another expensive option package. BMW used to save the M designation for cars that were the epitome of the most advance performance car they could build. They used to have exclusive engines and technology that couldn't be found in any other BMW.
  • keyrock1keyrock1 Member Posts: 1
    So it is ok for Ford to continue to use the Shelby name years after his death but not ok for BMW to use an M in a few places?
  • roadburnerroadburner Member Posts: 17,245
    keyrock1 said:

    So it is ok for Ford to continue to use the Shelby name years after his death but not ok for BMW to use an M in a few places?

    Apples and oranges; Ford doesn't offer a "Shelby Package" for virtually every car in their lineup. BMW uses an M in far more than"a few places." Where BMW ///M used to stand for "Motorsport," it now stands for "Marketing." More of Munich's pandering to the clueless dweebs who wear their cars as opposed to driving them; those poor fools would buy(and love) a BMW peppered with ///M emblems even if it had the driving dynamics of a 1985 Cavalier.

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport; 2020 C43; 2021 Sahara 4xe 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2015 X1 xDrive28i Son's: 2009 328i; 2018 330i xDrive

  • quantumfluxrquantumfluxr Member Posts: 3
    edited January 2016
    Utterly ridiculous editorial and the comments doubly so for being based on nothing but confirmation bias.

    Apparently everyone has very short memories, but any *actual* BMW fan, who is going to presume to judge "the M division", might want to acquaint themselves with the M535 and M635 from THIRTY YEARS ago.

    BMW "M" is a philosophical approach. No one has ever said that there is some sacred "ONLY THE M CAR!" rule. Actually quite the opposite. The entire division started as IN HOUSE TUNING that produced whatever they wanted. From one off supercars, to *SUVs*, to "enhanced" standard models.

    The M235i is simply the latest incarnation of the latter. And it's about time considering how much success Audi has had with the S cars! Which are the EXACT same thing!

    There is no way this car should come STANDARD with a mechanical LSD. It's so hypocritical to suggest it should when the CAYMAN that everyone genuflects over DOES NOT.

    The M2 is now here and all of the bench racers, mag testers (who LIVE on the track using OTHER peoples money) and owners who actually DO track (all .01% of them) can now appreciate the LSD. And on forums everyone will talk about how much "better" it is on their 9 mile daily drive to work. That last is called a placebo and is probably the #1 driver of "enthusiast" car up-sells.

    The M235 does what it was designed to do. It's a spirited small compact with M bits. Like an Audi S3, and like the old M635 in concept. If you want to move it CLOSER to being a track prepped car, then add the OPTIONAL LSD. $3k is hardly "breathtaking". To suggest so is just more hypocrisy in an era when every M4 is going out the door at EIGHTY GRAND and yet get's called a "bargain".

    Bottom line is very nearly every test has called the M235i a "return to the roots" for BMW and HEAPED praise on it, yet a small group of embittered curmudgeons continue to fixate on counting badges, presume to dictate what is and is not a "real M", and insist that "BMW has lost it's way!" based on a *complete* lack of understanding of the companies history. Just unreal.

    The BEST part is the parting blow. TOTALLY disconnected from reality. Other brands are busy building "their own heritage"?

    Who would that be? I mean please. If you're bitter and angry that your personal (and wrong) vision of what BMW "M" is about has finally been dispelled, then that is on YOU.

    But Audi follows this *exact* playbook.

    As does Porsche who everyone WORSHIPS. Cayman. Cayman S. Cayman GTS. Cayman GT4. From $60k - $160k. Base one barely includes seats!

    AMG now producing SUB "full" AMG cars and has ALWAYS offered AMG "bits" for NORMAL cars. Let's ignore that though.

    Lexus? What is "F Sport"?

    Even Ford. Mustang eco-boost 4. Mustang 6. Mustang GT. Mustang GT "premium". Mustang GT with "sport pack". Not to mention Shelby GT350.

    But yeah. Let's just keep rationalizing why for BMW "it's different". Once you're bending over backwards saying "but it's DIFFERENT!" in the face of *clear* evidence to the contrary then you *know* you have an irrational bias. Just own it. The conclusion was "don't get me wrong. It's a great car. But other cars are great too. And too many badges. And LSD. And not real M". Give it a rest.
  • roadburnerroadburner Member Posts: 17,245
    To reiterate what I posted above... I owned an E24 M6. And I tracked it- not to mention winning a couple of Solo I and Solo II trophies. A limited slip diff was standard, and it needed no special prep for track days aside from fresh DOT4 brake fluid. My E36 M Sport, offered an optional LSD, which cost me all of $500($780 in 2015 dollars). It also required no special prep for track use.

    But an M235i shouldn't come with a mechanical LSD. Seriously? Most every sub-$35k performance car seems to be able to offer one as standard- or for considerably less than $3,000. If you buy cars to wear, modern BMWs are great value; they reliably telegraph your disposable income and attract countless envious glances. However, only a few cars in BMWs current lineup are all that rewarding to drive.

    But what do I know? I've only owned BMWs since 1983- and instructed at BMW CCA HPDEs since 1996.

    Mine: 1995 318ti Club Sport; 2020 C43; 2021 Sahara 4xe 1996 Speed Triple Challenge Cup Replica Wife's: 2015 X1 xDrive28i Son's: 2009 328i; 2018 330i xDrive

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