I Finally Pulled the Trigger...

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So… After nearly 18 months of looking, I finally found a replacement for the Mazdaspeed 3- a Certified Pre-Owned 2014 M235i. I must admit to heresy; it’s an automatic. Used M235is are not exactly easy to find; in the entire United States there were a grand total of 26 2014 and 2015 CPO cars- out of those only 4 were sticks, and all of them were located pretty far away. The upside of the autobox is that it is faster than the manual in most conditions and it will also give my ever-patient bride another car to drive if hers is in the shop. And of course I love CPO cars- depreciation is my friend. Methinks it will prove to be the best of both worlds- it has the Adaptive M Suspension as well as Variable Sport Steering which allows you to adjust the suspension, steering, and throttle mapping from relatively sedate geezer calibrations to a full-tilt boogie track mode. In fact, in Sport+ mode the 8 speed ZF autobox goes virtually full manual- it will even let you bounce off the rev limiter rather than upshifting of its own accord. It is pretty well equipped but thankfully is missing the Helen Keller suite of electronic nannies that nag you about lane departure, blind spots, and similar. And instead of run-flats it wears a set of Michelin PSS tires. It’s an order of magnitude quicker than my mildly tweaked Mazdaspeed. The M235i automatic runs 0-60 in the low 4 second range and a 13.0 second or better ¼ mile, so I can actually call it fast with a straight face. The only thing it lacks is a limited slip differential. But that can be fixed… I looked at a lot of cars before I landed on the 2er; my wife said I was like a cat chasing a laser pointer- and she was pretty much spot on. The runners-up? One reason I waited so long was my hope that Mazda would build the rumored 300+ hp AWD Mazdaspeed 3; it was supposed to be introduced at Frankfurt or Detroit. Sadly, it is apparently vaporware… No other late model BMW in my price range excited me; nice enough cars I guess- but softened and insulated far too much for my tastes. The new Mustang GT ran a very, VERY close second. I had found two CPO cars optioned almost exactly as I would have ordered them. The first one got away because I stupidly decided to “think it over,” while the other was on the lot of a very sketchy dealer outside of Indy who wanted to play all the old games so we walked. Looking at a new GT was discouraging due to Ford’s structuring of trim levels and options- some options weren’t available on the base GT. On top of that, fellow track rats were suggesting that-even with a Performance Package car I would need the Ford Racing Track Handling Pack($1,500 plus installation) to make it truly suitable for HPDEs. If I’d had a much larger budget I’d have nabbed a new GT350. I also liked the upcoming Focus RS, but it was increasingly likely that I wouldn’t have been able to get one before fall- if then. And with both cars I would almost certainly encounter dealer ADM shenanigans. I found a reasonably priced CPO 2015 Camaro 2SS 1LE with Recaros and sans a hole in the roof- it was a riot, but outward visibility was a joke. The 2012 Challenger SRT8 I looked at was sweet, but at 4200 pounds it burns through tires(and brakes) on the track- and the tires alone run upwards of $900 per set. I liked the 2015 STI, but in the final analysis I concluded it was just too similar to my Mazdaspeed 3 The Golf R tempted me for a minute, but none of my local VW dealers hire techs with opposable thumbs. Long shots were used examples of the 370Z NISMO, Cayman S, C6 Z06, and Lotus Elise, but I finally decided I needed at least a small rear seat as a sop to practicality. I have to say that every car I considered was a very capable and enjoyable machine; which car would work best for a particular individual depends on his/her priorities and mission profile. Me, I’ve come to prefer small, close-coupled coupes- but I can certainly understand why someone would prefer something else. In the end, you need to drive what makes you smile- life is too short to drive boring cars…
 
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A friend of mine picked up one recently and gave us a ride. Very, very fast car. It did 0 to ludicrous speed very rapidly. From a roll it was equally as quick. And then settled down for a steady-state cruise. He didn't demonstrate the handling since it was on snow tires. That ZF automatic is a great unit. The one in his car felt equally at home poking around my subdivision and when he dropped the hammer. The shifting logic seemed to be really good. He mentioned that he hadn't yet caught out the transmission in a few thousand miles of driving. Enjoy!
 

MCompact

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Originally Posted By: sciphi
A friend of mine picked up one recently and gave us a ride. Very, very fast car. It did 0 to ludicrous speed very rapidly. From a roll it was equally as quick. And then settled down for a steady-state cruise. He didn't demonstrate the handling since it was on snow tires. That ZF automatic is a great unit. The one in his car felt equally at home poking around my subdivision and when he dropped the hammer. The shifting logic seemed to be really good. He mentioned that he hadn't yet caught out the transmission in a few thousand miles of driving. Enjoy!
Thanks! Yes, the car is a real Jekyll and Hyde- calm or manic at the flick of a switch. I can easily see owning it for a decade or longer.
 
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Originally Posted By: MCompact
In the end, you need to drive what makes you smile- life is too short to drive boring cars…
A beauty, and if YOU like it then it's great! Glad the journey was worth it...
 

MCompact

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Originally Posted By: Jarlaxle
Stupid question: what happened to the Speed3?
Not stupid, I traded it.
 

MCompact

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Originally Posted By: SteveSRT8
A beauty, and if YOU like it then it's great! Glad the journey was worth it...
I still hope to have a Challenger SRT8 someday. A fantastic car.
 

MCompact

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Originally Posted By: Vikas
Quote:
The only thing it lacks is a limited slip differential. But that can be fixed…
How?
BMW sells an "M Performance" LSD, and a few other manufacturers also sell units for retrofitting. it's just a matter of deciding which one is most suitable(and affordable).
 
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BMW naming is a little confusing lately. A while ago the first digit denotes the series and the next 2 digits are engine size, 535 is a 5-series 3.5L engine, 320 is a 3-series 2.0L engine. Now M235i isn't a M-sport 2-series with 3.5L engine but it has a 3.0L turbo charged engine. Similar to Mercedes Benz, C350 isn't necessary a C class with 3.5L engine. It can have smaller turbo charged engine.
 
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Nice cars, my friend has a 135I convertible with the 6spd. A few mods and its north of 400hp, pulls very nicely. It's an early car before the M1, but with the M suspension? Not sure I'm far from a BMW expert. Drives like a go cart though. He bought it when his lease on his 911T was up, realized that a $130k sports car is an utter waste in New England. IMHO those little cars are what a BMW should be, I still dislike my business partners 428I its no better than a Mustang, heck its slower. Make sure you have a spare, at least around here and in NYC BMW's blow apart tires and rims all the time. The pot holes in March/April are amazing.
 
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Fun read and nice choice! Lots of options out there. I agree with you when it comes to the Camaro and visibility. It's a chore. After driving both I find the new mustang to be a very livable daily driver all things considered. Great pick with the car, keep us posted. And pics please!!
 

MCompact

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Originally Posted By: HTSS_TR
BMW naming is a little confusing lately. A while ago the first digit denotes the series and the next 2 digits are engine size, 535 is a 5-series 3.5L engine, 320 is a 3-series 2.0L engine. Now M235i isn't a M-sport 2-series with 3.5L engine but it has a 3.0L turbo charged engine. Similar to Mercedes Benz, C350 isn't necessary a C class with 3.5L engine. It can have smaller turbo charged engine.
The logic behind Munich's numbering system went AWOL some years ago. For example, odd numbered series are supposed to be four doors and even numbered two doors- but there's a four door 4 Series as well as a four door 6 Series. And now there are three levels of ///M- M Sport, M Performance, and "Real" M. This meme says it best:
 

MCompact

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Originally Posted By: hattaresguy
Nice cars, my friend has a 135I convertible with the 6spd. A few mods and its north of 400hp, pulls very nicely. It's an early car before the M1, but with the M suspension? Not sure I'm far from a BMW expert. Drives like a go cart though. He bought it when his lease on his 911T was up, realized that a $130k sports car is an utter waste in New England. IMHO those little cars are what a BMW should be, I still dislike my business partners 428I its no better than a Mustang, heck its slower. Make sure you have a spare, at least around here and in NYC BMW's blow apart tires and rims all the time. The pot holes in March/April are amazing.
Yes, the 1 Series is an extremely nice car; every 135i got the M Sport suspension. And I agree regarding the 4 Series- it's a very attractive design but not very exciting to drive.
 

MCompact

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Originally Posted By: jigen
Fun read and nice choice! Lots of options out there. I agree with you when it comes to the Camaro and visibility. It's a chore. After driving both I find the new mustang to be a very livable daily driver all things considered. Great pick with the car, keep us posted. And pics please!!
Here you go:
 
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