Want a classic reasonable sports car? Try the BMW 230i

What’s the saying — “champagne tastes on a beer budget”? Well, pop the cork because the BMW 230i coupe is everything you want in a car — not to mention a BMW — without breaking the bank, selling the family silver or marrying someone for their money.

   At a starting price of $36,350, it’s reasonably affordable and you get a whole lot more performance and style than the price tag suggests. The car we drove had the Dynamic Handling, M Sport and Premium packages, which tacked on an additional $10,000, but still, the 2301 coupe is a great way to start what probably will be a lifetime of buying BMWs. It’s a great luxury car. It offers confident handling and sharp styling. In many ways it offers best in class amenities and even when it’s not at the top of the class — it’s still pretty darn great.
   This compact, rear-wheel drive beauty is peppy and uses an eight-speed automatic transmission to add the needed “pep.” A 2.0 TwinPower Turbo inline 4-cylinder, 16 valve engine with variable valve control gives it everything to pack a powerful wallop in such a cute body. For those who like to “bottom line” things, it means it has about 255 horsepower and 295 pounds-feet of torque. It can also go from 0 to 60 in 5.5 seconds. In terms of cost at the pump, it gets 29 combined miles per gallon or 3.4 gallons per 100 miles.

   Of course, there is always something and for us, it was figuring out how to move the front seats forward to get in the back. Finally we saw there was a mechanical release on the back of the seats. But, let’s face it. If that was our biggest problem, we really don’t have much to complain about! We should mention that the car is not offered in a manual transmission, which was fine with us, but a few our of friends bemoaned the loss.

   We loved the interior, not only for the design but for the quality of materials. The perforated SensaTec upholstery was beautiful and we loved the high gloss trim and ambient lighting. The seat was low and at first felt that we were in the kiddie seat looking up, but that quickly faded as we adjusted to the form and learned to enjoy it — and had no problem getting in or out. The back seats were a bit tight with 32.2 inches of legroom and 51.7 inches of shoulder room, but we found plenty of cargo space in the back (13.8 cubic feet). The difference between the front and back is noticeable with the front leg room being almost 10 inches more and four inches of shoulder room. 

   The technology was first rate with everything from real-time traffic information and anti-theft AM/FM stereo with Radio Data System as well as a HiFi Sound system with 205-watt digital amplifiers and 10 speakers. Of course, when it comes to engine performance and handling BMW is first in line  with Servotronic power-steering assist, front and rear driver assistance technology, 4-wheel ventilated disc brakes with Anti-lock Braking System, Dynamic Brake Control and Cornering Brake Control.
   Of course, it was fun to drive with a firm suspension and we found it maneuvered potholes and curves with ease. There simply is a special feeling when you get behind the BMW, you feel the engineering expertise and you know that it is made so that you enjoy the ride and feel the roar of the engine.

   The 230i also brought out the car enthusiasts in the neighborhood who kept admiring how the car was reminiscent of earlier BMWs (back in the good old days!). It seems the love of a BMW runs deep and never stops. bmwusa.com

Mary Welch


Editor, award-winning journalist and author

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