BMW M235i Surprises in Consumer Reports Tests Outscoring Impressive Porsche 911 & Chevrolet Corvette

Detroit Michigan - In the world of high-performance cars, there are few models that exemplify the spirit of the genre like the Chevrolet Corvette Stingray and Porsche 911 Carrera S, that’s why it comes as somewhat of a surprise the impressive new versions of both were narrowly out-scored by the BMW M235i in Consumer Reports tests.

With an overall score of 98, Consumer Reports’ engineers found the new M235i to be taught, quick, and eager. On the track, the M235i is capable and poised, with tenacious cornering grip and balanced behavior at its limits. It even posted a higher maximum speed in Consumer Reports’ avoidance maneuver course than the Corvette Stingray.

“While the M235i doesn't quite achieve the same acceleration and braking levels of the top performance cars, it's offers just as much fun in a more refined package that you would be happy to drive everyday,” said Jake Fisher, Consumer Reports director of automotive testing.

Accompanied by a satisfyingly deep exhaust note, the M235i engine responds instantly to every touch of the throttle, delivering smooth, abundant torque and high-end punch. Working with the smooth and progressive clutch, the manual shifter is a delight to use. The suspension feels tied down yet absorbent. The car’s 25 mpg overall is commendable. Consumer Reports tested model cost roughly $60,000 less than the 911 and $23,000 less than the Corvette Stingray.

Still impressive, the 911 and Corvette Stingray have evolved from very different roots. Consumer Reports found both redesigns notable improvements with an overall score of 95 and 92 respectively. They now go head-to-head in performance and charisma. In tests, both generated excellent and near-identical acceleration and braking results, in each case besting all other cars in CR’s current Ratings.

The 911 still holds the edge in handling, however, as reflected in its higher maximum speed — 59.5 vs. 57.5 mph — in CR’s accident-avoidance maneuver course. And the power delivery is smooth, gradual, and effortless, with no sudden, head-snapping burst when punching the throttle. Every touch of the gas pedal brings an immediate, yet measured, forward thrust. The gear ratios are very well matched to the engine’s power. Given the eye-opening performance, fuel economy is commendable at 23 mpg overall on premium fuel.

The Stingray’s throttle is an eye-opener. The direct-injected 460-hp, 6.2-liter V8 helped it post a blistering 0-to-60-mph acceleration time of 4.3 seconds, and fuel economy was 20 mpg overall. The rakish coupe also has quick reflexes, with flat cornering, fantastic brakes, and less of the nose-heavy sensation of older models. But it’s still a wide car that’s ultimately more about power than grace, and the best place to explore its full potential is on a track. The Porsche has the edge in everyday livability, with better fuel economy, easier access, a nicer shifter, a slightly more comfortable ride, and lower noise levels.

Despite their stellar test scores, the Stingray and M235i are too new for Consumer Reports to have reliability data, and the 911’s reliability has historically been below average.

Also included in this month’s tests is the Chevrolet SS sports sedan. The SS, earned an 87 overall road test score, blends the spacious, comfortable cabin of a large sedan with a 415-hp, 6.2-liter V8 adapted from the last- generation Corvette. It also delivers acceleration and handling prowess that approaches such European super-sedans as the BMW M5 and Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG but at a price that’s about $40,000 less.

Mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, the V8 delivered 0-to-60-mph sprints in a swift 5.1 seconds, which is only a second slower than the new, redesigned Corvette Stingray. Clearly, you won’t buy this car for its gas mileage; CR measured only 17 mpg overall, which approaches the consumption of a large SUV such as the Chevy Tahoe. Inside the SS offers easy access to the sumptuous cockpit. The rear seat is very hospitable. Controls are simple to use.

Complete reports and ratings for the BMW M235i, Porsche 911 Carrera S, Chevrolet Corvette Stingray and SS, as well as results for newly tested trio of subcompacts—Ford Fiesta, Chevrolet Spark, Mitsubishi Mirage—are available now at www.ConsumerReports.org and in the August 2014 issue of Consumer Reports on sale July 3.

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