Review: Birds BMW M235i

Review: Birds BMW M235i
Review: Birds BMW M235i

Buckingham tuning company shows it’s not just for the birds

BMW’s M235i is a powerful, premium sports coupé. It also has, as they say, issues. The lack of a limited-slip diff as standard makes this rear-driven car something of a handful when it shouldn’t be. And the damping means that it handles and rides tremendously well so long as you’re driving on a road as smooth as a billiard table. If you find such a section of road in the UK please do let us know.

Which meant that Birds, a British tuning company based in Buckingham, felt the need to address the BMW’s issues head on. After decades of modifying BMWs, it brought in ex-racing driver James Weaver and chassis engineer Pete Weston to help with the project that is B2.

Birds BMW M235i

Birds BMW M235i

Birds BMW M235i

Engine: 3.0-litre, six-cylinder, turbocharged petrol
Power: 385bhp
Torque: 391lb ft
Gearbox: Eight-speed automatic
Kerbweight: 1530kg
0-60mph: 4.3sec (est)
Top speed: 155mph

The effect of the changes is really quite remarkable. Where before the car tended to pogo down the road, now it just churns along, all smooth and calm control. There’s a real sense of poise and grace which really was lacking before, allowing you to better explore the engine’s output on normal roads.

The upgraded Bilstein suspension is made exclusively for Birds and features their own settings and specifications. It’s a £1,554 option and comes with a warranty and we’d see it as essential and not an option.

Similarly, the increased body control means that the driver can better explore the performance potential, and in this the Quaife differential has a huge part to play. The differential costs £1,694 and it must be pointed out that you could go to your BMW garage and get an M Performance official diff although it would cost you about another grand.

The Quaife unit allows you to really control the back end, which previously had a habit of lighting up or going into violent oversteer, with little clue as to what it was about to go for. The new diff tames the rear to the extent that you can set it up for a gentle oversteer powerslide and just play with it, to and fro, until you hurtle off down the straight. These two changes genuinely transform the car.

Birds BMW M235i

The engine is always a strong suit in the M235i, but now it has some software remapping, which is about £2,250. It pulls tremendously strongly once you pass 2,000rpm and delivers a very punch midrange before hurling itself towards the redline.

If you’re not keeping track of these costs, then you can have all the upgrades, which also includes four Goodyear Eagle F1 tyres and spacers for the front axle for £7,238 (which includes VAT).

That seems like really sensible value when you grasp just how much it improves what was a great but flawed car. If you were thinking about buying an M235i, we’d even suggest getting a used one and spending the money you saved on the Birds B2 kit. You can have it fitted all in one go or over time depending on your budget limitations.

The effect really is a transformation, and makes you wonder why BMW didn’t get it right themselves – although one assumes accountants are somewhere in the mix. This is what the BMW M235i should be, and we hope these kits just fly out the door for Birds.

Birds BMW M235i

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