BMW M235i tops Corvette, Porsche 911 in Consumer Reports review

Consumer Reports: “This is just an inspiring, sporty car, plain and simple.” It scored 98 out of 100.

DETROIT (Bloomberg) -- BMW’s M235i high-performance car has secured the German automaker its highest-ever score from Consumer Reports, beating the costlier Porsche 911 and Chevrolet Corvette in road test reviews.

The M235i, which earned 98 out of a possible 100 points, scored better that the discontinued BMW 135i, making it BMW’s highest-rated vehicle of all time.

As tested, the M235i had a price tag of $50,400, or about $60,000 less than the Porsche 911 Carrera S from Volkswagen AG, which received a score of 95. The BMW is $23,000 cheaper than General Motors Co.’s Chevrolet Corvette Stingray LT3, which scored a 92.

The M235i has a “classic BMW mold” and offers “tenacious cornering” on the track, while embracing the company’s recent focus on comfort and luxury, Consumer Reports said.

“This really is a totally dual-purpose car,” Jon Linkov, Consumer Reports deputy cars editor, said in an interview. “This is a car you could drive to work every day of the week without it killing you. And then you could go take it to the track on the weekend.”

BMW along with Mercedes-Benz are among luxury carmakers expanding with lower-cost models as they look to capture new buyers. BMW, which also shifted away from its “Ultimate Driving Machine” slogan in recent years, is borrowing from its old marketing approach with the M235i, Consumer Reports said.

The Chevrolet Corvette is more “about power than grace,” says Consumer Reports. It scored 92.

‘Inspiring, sporty’

“It seems like it has almost a direct lineage,” to BMWs, Linkov said. “This is just an inspiring, sporty car, plain and simple.”

While the Corvette and 911 both “pack more punch” than the M235i on the road, the latter car comes relatively close and provides more comfort.

Consumer Reports evaluates cars on how well they drive, their interior-finish quality, safety and reliability.

The 911 and Corvette, both recently redesigned, had “excellent and near-identical acceleration and braking results,” according to the magazine’s reviewers. The 911 edged out the Corvette in its higher maximum speed and handling.

The Corvette has “quick reflexes” though the vehicle is more “about power than grace,” the magazine said.

Porsche 911 Carrera S, which scored a 95, edged out the Corvette with its higher maximum speed and handling.

None of the three vehicles received a recommendation from Consumer Reports because the M235i and Corvette are too new for the reviewers to have reliability data, while the 911 is listed as having below average reliability.

All three models fell short of the mark set by Tesla Motors Inc. Its Model S received a score of 99 from Consumer Reports last year, matching the mark previously set in 2007 by the Lexus LS460L from Toyota Motor Corp.

The Chevrolet SS sports sedan scored 87 on the overall road test score. General Motors’ newest Australian import is equipped with a 415 hp, 6.2-liter V8 engine, which is adapted from the previous-generation Corvette. Consumer Reports praised the SS for combining sedan comfort with sports car power.

The SS starts at $44,470, including shipping, and offers acceleration and handling capabilities similar to that of the more expensive BMW M5 and Mercedes-Benz E63, according to Consumer Reports. The SS goes from 0 to 60 mph in 5.1 seconds, a second slower than the Corvette Stingray, but only gets about 17 mpg overall.

Nora Naughton contributed to this report.

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