7 BMW 228i

Surprisingly fast, but not fast enough

SPECIFICATIONS

ENGINE: 1997cc inline-4, DOHC, 16v, turbo POWER: 180kW @ 6500rpm TORQUE: 350Nm @ 1250-4800rpm WEIGHT: 1405kg GEARBOX: 8-speed automatic BRAKES: 330mm ventilated discs, single-piston calipers (f); 300mm ventilated discs, single-piston calipers (r) SUSPENSION: Struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar (f); multi-links, coil springs, anti-roll bar (r) WHEELS: 17 x 7.5-inch (f/r) TYRES: 225/40 R18 83Y (f) 245/35 R18 88Y (r) Bridgestone Potenza S001 PERFORMANCE DATA 0-100km/h: 5.45sec (6th) 0-400m: 13.78sec @ 161.17km/h (6th) Lap Time: 1:44.4sec (8th)

OVERALL SCORES

BANG INDEX 60.5 PRICE (BUCKS) $64,400 BUCKS INDEX 103.2 BFYB INDEX 120.6

JUDGES’ RANKING

MORLEY, 5TH: “My favourite tune for BMW four-pots. This is why.”

CAMPBELL, 8TH: “Ballsy powertrain but on track felt a little too clinical for me.”

NEWMAN, 6TH: “Does a huge amount with what it has, it just needs a bit more.”

SPINKS, 6TH: “Lovely reardrive handling but more steering communication, please.”

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 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 Luffy either, but I still reckon it’s hard to fault the 228i given its road bias.

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-up’s 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.

The 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 extends the car’s everyday appeal no end. Same goes for the engine. Okay, I know it’s not the rippling-abs 3.0-litre six in the M135i, but the 180kW tune for the 2.0-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-5.5sec time getting to 100km/h and backed up with a 400m time under 14 seconds. These are proper performance car numbers, 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 its feathers ruffled, even when you’re pointing the tacho needle at the big numbers.

The question, then, is why the hell didn’t it finish higher up the order? Corner grip and, therefore, corner speed.

The 228 could only manage just-on 107km/h through the sweeper, placing it mid-pack. 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 the 228i gives you options, and that’s got to be worth something. – DM

Luffy reckons 8th

“Great chassis, but the feedback from the steering and throttle is non-existent” “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.”