BMW M235i (© BMW Group)Click to enlarge picture

Looks are obviously subjective, but we won't hesitate to say this is easily one of our favorite BMW faces in years. No awkwardly tall, upright nose or anything.

As part of BMW's new model nomenclature, the 1-Series is now the 2-Series (coupes are even numbered) with the 135i becoming the M235i — well, sort of. That little "M" in front signifies M Performance. While not a proper, full-tilt BMW M GmbH creation (like the last generation's bonkers 1-Series M Coupe), BMW's M Performance line instead represents a halfway step, essentially a comprehensive, deeply integrated sport package. The goal is to deliver a fun coupe with both track-day capability and uncompromised daily livability.

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Model lineup
Like the 135i before it, the new baby Bimmer is a spunky-looking sports coupe with a powerful 6-cylinder engine and lively handling, although for the M235i, BMW put great emphasis on maturing the design. The new coupe features an attractive body free from the 1-Series' trademark awkward proportions, and with an increase in all dimensions but overall height, it's unmistakably larger than the outgoing 1-Series. On the plus side, this larger size was achieved without upping vehicle weight by any significant amount, which is quite a feat.

The M235i isn't likely to confuse buyers at the dealer. It comes in one flavor — sporty — and only offers a few typical BMW packages as options (well, there are also some wheels and smaller accessories, and even an available differential for the diehard enthusiast). Interestingly, there is no "normal" 235i. If you want a 2-Series with the six-shooter, you'll have to go whole hog with an M Performance car — at least for now. That said, there is a more basic 2-Series on offer as well, the 228i.

So then what's the deal with this M Performance stuff? Well, with no such thing as a 235i to compare, it's hard to say for sure, but there are a number of interesting details that BMW is crediting to the M Performance name beyond the usual sport package bling, like adaptive suspension, sport brakes and even a tweaked chassis and drivetrain. New marketing moniker or not, this coupe is unquestionably an enthusiast-oriented vehicle.

View Pictures:  2014 BMW M235i

Under the hood
Surprising absolutely no one, this BMW comes equipped with the brand's ubiquitous TwinPower Turbo engine. As the latest and greatest iteration of the venerable N54 inline-6 engine that sees duty across BMW's lineup, the M235i's mill produces a heady 320 horsepower and 330 lb-ft of torque. The M235i's mountain of torque — arguably the best trait of this engine — is actually more of a plateau, as its peak becomes available at just 1400 rpm and lasts until 4500 rpm.

Mated to the available dry-sump manual transmission, this engine can blast the M235i to 60 mph in just five seconds. If the 8-speed automatic is your transmission of choice, you'll be treated to paddle shifters and a launch control system that, combined with the short gearing, gets the car to 60 mph even faster, at just 4.8 seconds. But you'd be driving a performance car with an automatic transmission.

Drivetrain aside, there are plenty of other technical bits worth noting. All M235i cars in the U.S. come with the M Sport adaptive suspension system, which enables drivers to adjust the car's driving dynamics on the fly. Also standard equipment is the M Sport brake setup, featuring blue-painted 4-pot calipers up front and 2-pot in the rear. BMW's variable steering system (dubbed Servotronic) is available as an option, as well as a rear differential for even greater performance on the track.