As exciting as the 2021 M3 and M4 are, they’re not the only BMWs with an M badge. But there’s a marked difference between a proper M car and an M Performance one. The BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupe, for example, is neither an M2, nor a proper 2 Series, nor a coupe. Instead, it’s a sports sedan competing with the Cadillac CT4-V and Mercedes-AMG A35. And according to Car and Driver, compared to the other two, it leaves something to be desired.
How the 2020 BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupe’s, Cadillac CT4-V’s, and Mercedes-AMG A35’s specs and features compare
Despite its name, the 2020 BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupe isn’t a coupe, nor does it ride on the 2 Series’ platform. Instead, underneath the 4-door bodywork, it rides on the same platform as the X2 crossover, Automobile reports. The 2020 Cadillac CT4-V and Mercedes-AMG A35, in contrast, ride on passenger-car platforms.
All three of these sport sedans have turbocharged four-cylinder engines. The M235i has a 2.0-liter engine, the most powerful four-cylinder that BMW offers, Motor Trend reports. It makes 301 hp and 332 lb-ft and is linked to an 8-speed automatic, a standard limited-slip differential, and standard all-wheel drive. As a result, the BMW M235i Gran Coupe goes 0-60 in 4.2 seconds, Car and Driver reports.
The 2020 Mercedes-AMG A35 also has AWD and a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine. It makes 302 hp and 295 lb-ft and comes with a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic, Roadshow reports.
It doesn’t have rear-wheel torque-vectoring like the BMW M235i, Road & Track reports. But it has more chassis bracing than the base A-Class, as well as sportier suspension, upgraded steering, and optional AMG-tuned dampers. It’s also about 45 pounds lighter than the BMW, though its 0-60 time is 0.1 seconds slower, Car and Driver reports.
The 2020 Cadillac CT4-V is the only RWD sports sedan of the three. AWD is optional, MT reports, but you lose out on the magnetorheological dampers. It’s also 70 pounds heavier than the BMW M235i Gran Coupe. However, it has the largest and most powerful engine. It’s a 2.7-liter turbocharged four-cylinder with 325 hp and 380 lb-ft, linked to a 10-speed automatic. So, despite its weight and traction handicap, it’s fairly close in speed, with a 0-60 time of 4.4 seconds.
Car and Driver: the Mercedes-AMG A35 and Cadillac CT4-V “are so far ahead” of the BMW M235i Gran Coupe, “they’re practically out of sight”
The 2020 Cadillac CT4-V, and its larger cousin, the CT5-V, have been criticized for being somewhat underwhelming for V-Series cars. Especially in comparison to the last-gen CTS-V. However, in Car and Driver’s recent comparison, both it and the Mercedes-AMG A35 beat the 2020 BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupe.
It’s not that the BMW M23i Gran Coupe is slow or slovenly. Not only does it have the fastest 0-60 time of the three, but its ¼-mile time also matches the A35’s time. Its 70-0 braking test performance is right between the Cadillac and the Mercedes; plus, the pedal provides good feedback, Roadshow reports. Its steering is quick, and in Sport Mode, the adaptive dampers make for good handling.
However, even in Comfort Mode, the M235i is harsher than the CT4-V or A35, Car and Driver reports. And while it’s sharp, the steering lacks feedback compared to the other two, and the software controlling the power-assistance makes for inconsistent weight. Plus, it has significantly less rear headroom than Cadillac or Mercedes.
Also, the BMW M235i Gran Coupe’s 0-60 time doesn’t tell the whole story. In a rolling 5-60 race, both the Cadillac CT4-V and Mercedes-AMG A35 finish noticeably faster than it. And while it has impressive grip in the corners, both the Cadillac and Mercedes stick to the road better.
Where do the rivals fall short?
That’s not to say the Cadillac CT4-V and Mercedes-AMG A35 are perfect.
The latter rides better than the BMW and has a better interior, but its infotainment system is less intuitive to use. Plus, its DCT is jerkier at low speeds, Roadshow reports. And at highway speeds, bumps cause jitters throughout the chassis, Car and Driver reports.
As for the Cadillac, its interior materials are equal to the BMW M235i’s materials, and it rides and handles significantly better. Plus, it still has excellent steering, with more road feel and better weighting, Car and Driver reports. And its brake pedal provides just as much if not more feedback than the BMW’s pedal does. However, the interior itself is rather drab, and the engine doesn’t sound particularly nice.
Which one of these sporty sedans should you buy?
All three sedans cost roughly the same. With its $44,495 starting price, the 2020 Cadillac CT4-V is the cheapest. The 2020 BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupe starts at $45.5k, and the 2020 Mercedes-AMG A35 starts at $45,850. And their features lists are broadly the same.
The BMW M235i Gran Coupe is a decent commuter, MT reports, and it’s appreciably quick. But the Mercedes-AMG A35 and Cadillac CT4-V are just as fast, if not faster in the real world. And between these models, Car and Driver gave the CT4-V first place.
However, if performance and handling are what you’re after, you may want to hold off a bit. The CT4-V is getting an even sportier Blackwing trim, which will offer a manual. There’s also a new Audi S4 coming, potentially within the next year.
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