2016 BMW M235
2016 Play Car of the Year: BMW M235i
When BMW turned the 1 Series into the 2 Series a couple years ago, the M235i was the model everyone pointed to as the perfect example of “the way BMWs used to be.” Its handling is sharp and direct, with feedback that lets you feel what’s going on beneath the 19-inch tires. It packs a wallop with its 320-horsepower twin-turbocharged inline-six-cylinder engine that rockets the M235i from zero to 60 mph in just 4.8 seconds. Sure, you can shift it yourself if you want to, but the eight-speed automatic is so well matched to the engine and bangs off shifts so quickly that you’re likely better off just keeping both hands on the wheel and hanging on. The adjustable suspension lets you modify the damping, steering effort, feedback, transmission behavior and throttle response, and it can turn the M235i from a pleasant touring coupe to a wild-and-crazy track star. It may not have the all-wheel-drive option of the Audi A3, but with 50/50 weight distribution, it’s one of the most balanced, well-executed sports coupes you can buy. You can even specify a convertible version if you feel the need for some wind-in-the-hair action. For these reasons, we award the BMW M235i our Play Car of the Year.