2022 BMW 230i M Sport review (video)

Mark Davis

BMW has introduced a new mid-level version of its two-door 2 Series coupe favourite, with the 230i M Sport. It harks back to classic BMW models in a number of ways, including driving characteristics and cabin environment, while blending in plenty of BMW’s latest technology and luxury.

The Mexican-built 230i M Sport slots itself between the 220i M Sport and M240i xDrive, using the same 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol engine that powers the 220i. Except, power and torque is significantly boosted from 135kW to 190kW, and from 300Nm to 400Nm. This is paired to an eight-speed auto transmission and, like with all decent sporty coupes, it is driven by the rear wheels.

It should appeal to buyers that are eyeing down wheels such as the Audi TT, new Nissan Z, Toyota GR Supra (sharing the same CLAR platform), and Ford Mustang and Toyota GR86/Subaru BRZ to a lesser extent. Prices start from $73,200 (excluding on-road costs).

2022 BMW 230i M Sport – THE SPECS

[column width=”47%” padding=”6%”]Engine: 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder
Output: 190kW@6500rpm / 400Nm@1550-4400rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed auto
Drive type: Rear-wheel drive
Wheels: F: 18×7.5, 225/45  R: 18×8.5, 255/40
ANCAP: Not tested
Tare weight: 1493kg
Power-to-weight: 7.85:1 (kg:kW)
Official fuel economy: 6.4L/100km
Economy during test: 7.5L/100km
Fuel capacity/Type: 52L/98 RON[/column] [column width=”47%” padding=”0″]Power efficiency: 29.68kW:L/100km
0-60km/h: 2.64 seconds*
0-100km/h: 5.49 seconds*
60-110km/h: 3.77 seconds*
1/4 mile: 13.78 seconds at 166.1km/h*
Max acceleration: 0.799g
100-0km/h braking: 3.00 seconds at 38.04 metres*
Max deceleration: -1.236g
Decibel at idle (/Sport mode): 42/43*
Peak decibel at 60-100km/h: 80*
Priced from: $73,200[/column][end_columns]

* Figures as tested by PerformanceDrive on the day. Factory claims may be different

2022 BMW 230i M Sport – THE PACKAGE

BMWs are becoming less recognisable as new models showcase more and more outrageous design themes and even brand new nameplates. The 230i moves away from the conservative, clean, executive look of classic models to one that is more mainstream. And by mainstream, we mean modern, jagged and with heavily contoured shapes. You still get the dual kidney front grilles and a traditional coupe side profile, but the overall design language of the front and rear is becoming less distinct.

BMW’s iconic dual lens headlights are gone, and the taillights are now compact, resembling more of a Toyota GR86 look. The large chrome and black alloys, painted brake callipers, a stern bonnet shape, dual exhausts and overall low stance of the coupe portrays a genuine sporty appeal. We especially like the view from the side, as the doors and rear haunches are elegantly flat and muscular, respectively.

Inside is now laden with digital interfaces and gauges for the 2023 update, however, this test car is a 2022 model and features the more traditional dash buttons for climate control and iDrive hand controller system on the console. We hope BMW keeps this arrangement in some models, as having only a digital touch-screen can be distracting and overwhelming, in our opinion. In a global announcement regarding the 2 Series in May, 2022, BMW said:

“All model variants of the two-door model will be equipped with a BMW Curved Display as standard from July 2022. It consists of a 12.3-inch Information Display and a Control Display with touch function and a screen diagonal of 14.9 inches.”

This 2022 test car showcases ‘Live Cockpit Professional’ which includes a 12.3-inch instrument cluster and a 10.25-inch centre touch-screen that runs BMW’s 7.0 operating system. The intuitive iDrive controller dial on the centre console is simple to use and offers a number of main menu buttons. The 230i also receives customisable ambient interior lighting, an exquisite 10-speaker sound system, digital radio, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, a digital key with remote functions, and a wireless phone charging pad.

There is a suite of safety features in the 230i. As standard, it comes with forward collision warning and control, front cross-traffic alert, lane departure warning, blind-spot sensors, front and rear parking sensors with parking assistant, adaptive LED headlights with auto high beam, and adaptive cruise control. But it misses out rear cross-traffic alert, rear collision mitigation, and a 360-degree camera.

In terms of practicality and comfort, the 230i meets the expectations of a sporty coupe. You sit low to the ground, which means hopping in and out is more of an effort. And the inside grab handle is towards the front of the long doors, making them harder to control on hills or in tight car spaces. But once you’re in, your surroundings look and feel clean, elegant and driver-centric.

The seats hem you in securely for taking on those corners in a spirited fashion, and the Alcantara/Sensatec upholstery feels premium and durable. There are some storage holes, with big pockets on the doors, but it could do with more space within the centre console. Two small seats in the back come with climate vents and control, cup holders, and enough room for kids, or adults on shorter journeys. The boot swallows a reasonable 390 litres of luggage.

BMW has recently upped the ante with its warranty coverage in Australia. You now receive five years and unlimited kilometres like the majority of other car manufacturers. You also get three years of complimentary roadside assistance, and 12 years of anti-corrosion warranty.

2022 BMW 230i M Sport – THE DRIVE

The 2.0-litre turbo gains much-welcomed gusto compared to the 220i. With 190kW to play with, it is a delight to drive. And with full torque available low in the rev range (1550-4400rpm), the engine does not need to spin high when cruising around suburbia. But you’ll want to give it the custard because it sounds brilliant. A throaty, deep note for a four pot.

This engine size is common in the current market. But the combination of peak power at 6500rpm and a wide spread of peak torque means it feels more versatile and ready-to-pounce than other fours on the market. And keep in mind this engine is used in various other BMW models, including larger and heavier SUVs. With this scraping in at just under 1500kg (1493kg tare), this engine does not have to work very hard at all.

The official 0-100km/h sprint clocks in at an impressive 5.8 seconds, or 1.7 seconds faster than the 220i. We ran some tests with our Vbox on a private road and recorded a time of just 5.49 seconds and the quarter mile in 13.78 seconds at 166.1km/h – marvellous performance for a mid-level variant. Power is sent through a smooth, fast, and intuitive eight-speed Steptronic auto transmission by renowned transmission specialist, ZF. It is a fantastic gearbox, and the calibration applied by BMW seems to be mindful of both everyday motoring and performance driving.

Drivers can utilise the Sport driving mode for an aggressive powertrain behaviour too, with auto-blipping downshifts and very punchy throttle sensitivity. The steering feels weighted and progressive, although it lacks the charm and intimacy of past BMW models in our opinion. It’s still precise and conveys lots of information but it can feel a bit too fluid and ‘monotone’ at times.

Regarding fuel consumption, the 230i falls within expectations for a non-hybrid, sports coupe. It officially burns 6.4L/100km, but our testing over 450km produced an average of 7.5L/100km. This, we feel, is a very respectable real-world figure considering its performance potential. The biggest impact to your wallet will be the minimum 98 RON-rated fuel requirement.

A standout for the 230i M Sport is its suspension and ride quality. The switch to the CLAR platform for the latest 2 Series means it incorporates many components from the bigger BMW 4 Series, and a 12 per cent increase in static torsional rigidity compared to its predecessor. This leaves a remarkably agile platform for sprinting around bends. Yet it still soaks up bumps impeccably, especially considering that it sits low to the ground.

Going over the bumps does not disturb its sturdy track, either. It’s a machine that can live two different lives; comfort and athletics. This is not often achieved without having adaptive dampers, which are not an option on the 230i. But even without them this standard setup is a superb minimal-compromise package. You get that beautiful roadster feel with power coming from the rear wheels, too.

The M Sport brakes as part of the standard M Sport package on the 230i feel powerful and progressive. Though, they exhibit a slight jerk at the very end of a dead stop. We clocked the 100-0km/h emergency stop in 38.04 metres, which isn’t spectacular for a sports car. However, during heated driving on spirited roads the brakes offer a very high resistance to fade, allowing you to enjoy long drives on your favourite roads without detriment.

2022 BMW 230i M Sport – THE VIDEO

2022 BMW 230i M Sport – THE VERDICT

There is not much we can fault with the new BMW 230i. Though, some may criticise the fresh external design that shies away from the German marque’s iconic handsome looks of past models, we’ll leave that part for you to decide. For the interior, it blends sophistication and sportiness, and is filled with top-quality tech.

The traits that will ultimately sell the 230i are the powertrain and driving dynamics. The extra cash for the more powerful engine over the 220i is worth it. This is seriously quick for its class and it offers great versatility in day-to-day conditions, perhaps more so than the flagship M240i. An engineering feat is the way it feels so solid through corners but at the same time it provides luxurious cushioning and comfort over bumps. Once again BMW has created a true driver’s machine, sprinkled with modern condiments.

[column width=”47%” padding=”6%”]PROS:
– Suspension is both smooth and stable, and taut and agile
– Strong performance from the engine, with lots of low-end torque
– Impressive economy-to-power ratio
– Excellent interior layout and build quality
– Large, high-quality screens are wonderfully easy to navigate thanks to iDrive controller for 2022 spec
[/column] [column width=”47%” padding=”0″]CONS:
– Moves away from iconic BMW design; some awkward areas in our opinion
– Misses out on some safety tech[/column][end_columns]

As always, if you’re thinking about buying a new car don’t forget to click here to speak with our car buying specialists.

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