Review: 2023 BMW 230i xDrive

BMW, baby, base, base. At $47,950, the new 230i xDrive is the most affordable two-door BMW you can currently purchase. If driver engagement and cabin quality are of the utmost importance, it really is one of the best bang-for-your-buck combinations under $50,000 with a punchy 255 hp turbo-four engine, a standard 8-speed automatic, and a rear-biased all-wheel drive system. It even makes a strong case for being a winter beater when outfitted with winter tires.

It's almost base, I guess. The M Sport Package ($2,000) adds a bolder aero kit with black exterior elements, a stiffer M Sport suspension, variable sport steering, and a leather steering wheel to our 230i xDrive test car's standard features list. We think it was well worth it. A sunroof, heated steering wheel, head-up display, keyless entry, ambient lighting, and a Harmon Kardon audio system are all included in the Premium Enhanced Package ($5,400), which, in our opinion, adds unnecessary fluff and distractions to the drive. That raises the price to $57,795 overall. Just get the M Sport Package and stick to the necessities to get out the door for $50,000 before taxes, which is roughly the same as a Toyota GR Corolla, Honda Civic Type R, or Volkswagen Golf R.

We fall in love with the 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine after just a few minutes behind the wheel. Although BMW claims it has 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, the actual power is closer to the low 300s. The 230i's small footprint amplifies the way it delivers maximum thrust so early in the rev range, punching way above its pay grade zipping from 0-100 km/h in 5.6 seconds, and the trip there is thrilling and flawless. It feels very similar to the 2014 BMW M235i that we previously drove. With 382 horsepower and a 0-100 km/h time of 4.3 seconds, the new M240i does indeed squeeze even more performance from the 2 Series platform, but when you consider that this is only the entry-level 2 Series, the amount of usable and exploitable performance is astounding.

The M Sport Suspension's fixed damper and spring setup results in a stiff ride that is in no way comfort-oriented. You won't feel every flaw in the road as the tires oscillate because it isn't as bumpy as the Honda Civic Type R or as elegant and polished as the M240i with its adaptive sport suspension. You can carry more speed through corners because the ride is very compliant and connected to the road, showing little body roll and lean.

The steering, throttle sensitivity, and gearbox mapping can all be changed, but the ride cannot be altered. But regardless of the setting, the steering remains cold and lacking in feel. It is well-tuned for precise wheel placement, allowing you to position the front wheels exactly where you want them, but without much grip or contact patch communication at your fingertips, it can be challenging to feel connected. The driving position is ideal, but I would have chosen a seat that was a little bit lower and a steering column that could telescope more inward. On the other hand, despite another brand-new and ungainly BMW gear shifter, the cabin ergonomics are sound, and the rearview camera and blind spot monitoring system greatly improve outward visibility from all angles.

Drive the 230i xDrive like a rear-wheel drive coupe and it becomes one of BMW's purest and unadulterated expressions of driving theatre in its current lineup of sports cars. Disable traction control and it enjoys swinging its tail out with excessive use of the go-fast pedal. Ultimate Vehicle for Driving? It's pretty close, and we preferred it to the comparably priced Mercedes-Benz CLA 35, Nissan Z, Ford Mustang GT, Audi TT, and MINI John Cooper Works for driving enjoyment. That is a long list, but it is well deserved praise.

But if choosing between the 230i and the loudly hyped-up Toyota GR Corolla were necessary, I'd be hard-pressed to pick the BMW if pure performance was the main concern. The Toyota is much more laser-focused and has a six-speed manual transmission as well. However, the 230i is the superior daily driver because it doesn't forgo technological advancements or interior comfort in order to shave a tenth off a lap time. At this price, it's also nice to see a full leather steering wheel with the airbag cover. The colorful displays, ease of use, and interaction with both touch and rotary dial inputs will appeal to those who are familiar with the BMW and MINI infotainment system.

While your RWD garage queen hibernates, the 2023 BMW 230i xDrive makes for a practical winter vehicle as well. Notably, the 230i usually rides on 18-inch wheels with optional 19-inch wheels, but our test car had narrower 17-inch wheels with Pirelli Sottozero 3 rubber, so your mileage may vary.

As we became more accustomed to the 230i, it became harder and harder to justify spending more money for the M240i xDrive, which has more horsepower. The 230i performs all tasks admirably and at a pace that is both exciting and approachable. It combines a passionate engine and a composed ride into one outstanding base package, making it the sports coupe for both casual and ardent enthusiasts.


  • Model: 2023 BMW 230i xDrive
  • Paint Type: Melbourne Red Metallic
  • Base Price: $47,950
  • Price as Tested: $57,795
  • Wheelbase(mm): 2,741
  • Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,537 / 1,838 / 1,390
  • Curb weight (kg): 1,620
  • Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder
  • Horsepower: 255 hp
  • Torque: 295 lb-ft
  • Transmission: 8-speed automatic
  • Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, AWD
  • Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 11.0
  • Tires: Pirelli Sottozero 3; 225/50R17

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