Is the BMW 230i the best BMW sports car value?

This new Series 2 seems to be as good as we hoped. Before its release, there was a lot to put on the shoulders of the new 2 Series. Not only was it a replacement for an already popular car, but it was already being called the last of its kind. With the disappearance of internal combustion engines over the next decade and the six-year life cycle of the 2 Series, it looks like the end of small gas-powered BMW coupes. Can’t the swan song from series 2 be bad, can it?

Fortunately, this is not the case. In fact, it’s damn good. However, most reviews of this new 2er have been of the M240i variety, its big-engined M Performance variant. So far, less has been said about the inferior 2-series model in America, the BMW 230i. And yet the little four-pot 2er might actually be the best sports car value in the marque’s lineup.

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It’s BMW’s cheapest car in America right now. Starting at $36,350, it undercuts its Series 3 sibling by about five thousand dollars. That alone makes it an intriguing value proposition. It gets the same 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine (B48) as the BMW 330i, the same ZF eight-speed automatic as standard, and is even a tenth quicker to 60mph than the 330i, making the sprint in 5.5 seconds.

But what makes the BMW 230i such a good value isn’t just its performance or spec, but its experience. It has all the same chassis elements that make the BMW M240i so good, just with less weight on the nose, which makes its cornering even more eager. Which means it’s great fun to drive and so far everyone we’ve spoken to who’s driven both 2 Series variants says they love the 230i just as much, some even love it more.

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Plus, it comes with all the same premium qualities you’d expect from a BMW. Its build quality is exceptional, its technology is the same as every other BMW, its materials are high quality and it comes with all the high-end luxury options you could want. More importantly, the 230i can be fitted with Thundernight Metallic, BMW’s new purple paint.

If you spec it right, you can walk away with a really fun and surprisingly fast rear-drive BMW coupe in a great color with heated seats, heated steering wheel, real Vernasca leather and a 3D Surround View camera system for under 40,000 $. That’s a lot and, honestly, I’m not sure you can find more fun per dollar in the BMW lineup.