$50-100K: BMW 228i #7

Luffy wasn’t mad about the feel and feedback offered by the 228i. I’m not going to mark it as hard as that.

True, it’s not the absolute most talkative car of the bunch, but when it does what it does, then maybe the precise way it does it is a little less important. Obviously, I’m not as attuned to what a car is doing at the banzai limit as W Luff either, but I still reckon it’s hard to fault the 228i given its road bias.

Actually, I liked this car from the moment I stepped into it. The interior is sharp and a bit of an update from recent BMWs. Classy, too, with all manner of high-end materials and touch-surfaces.

To tell you the truth, I liked it even before I got in it: Just walking up to it made me think it was a bit more of a grown-ups car than the M135i which, to my old eyes, still has a bit of Disney-Pixar about its overall proportions. The seats are fabulous, grippy things that hold you in place, enabling you to left-foot brake and make the most of the two-pedal arrangement.

BMW-228i -rearThe eight-speed auto sounds like it’d be out of place in a car like this, but trust me, it isn’t. In fact, with the standard paddles, it makes all the sense in the world as it would extend the car’s everyday appeal no end. Same goes for the engine.

Okay, I know it’s not the rippling-abs three-litre six in the M135i, but the 180kW tune for the two-litre four-banger is my favourite of the lot and marks a serious sweet-spot for this engine-tranny combo.

With the clock ticking, the 228i laid down a sub 5.5 time getting to 100km/h and backed up with a 400m time of comfortably under 14 seconds.

These are proper performance car numbers, folks, and on the road, it feels even faster. But more than that, it’s a willing unit that urges you on and never feels like it’s getting strained or having its feathers ruffled, even when you’re pointing the tach needle at the big numbers.

BMW-228i -turningThe question, then, is why the hell didn’t it finish higher up the order? Corner-grip and, therefore, corner speed, to put it simply. The 228 could only manage just on 107 through the sweeper, placing it mid-pack for this fast bend. And its slow-corner ranking wasn’t much better with a 52.6km/h trap speed against 54.4km/h for something like the Renault RS Trophy.

But beyond those bald numbers (not that it helps its cause in this reckoning) there’s more to like. Trackside, I found the fairly pointy front end was tolerant of me changing my mind about line and entry point, and those lovely brakes allowed me to trust them and then go deeper each lap until they finally stopped saving my bacon. So it gives you options, then, the 228i and that’s got to be worth something.

0-100km/h – 5.45sec (6th)
0-400m – 13.78sec @ 161.17km/h (6th)
Lap time – 1:44.4 (8th)

Overall Scoring

Bang Index – 60.5
Price - $64,400
Bucks Index – 103.2
BFYB Index – 120.6

Judges’ Rankings

Campbell 8th – “Ballsy powertrain but on track felt a little too clinical for me.”

Morley 5th – “My favourite tune for BMW four-pots. This is why.”

Newman 6th – “Does a huge amount with what it has, it just needs a bit more.”

Spinks 7th – “Lovely rear-drive handling but more steering communication, please.”

Luffy 5th – “It’s a great chassis and you can feel that mechanical grip is there, but the feedback from the steering and throttle is non-existent. It feels like driving a simulator; the steering and throttle are very removed from what the rest of the car is doing. Instead you rely on what you’re getting back through the chassis.”

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