BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe.
Isn’t the 2-series just the two-door version of the 1-series?
It still is, in that you can still buy the outgoing F22-series 2-series for now, but it’s soon to be put out to pasture. There’ll be a brand-new two-door 2-series to replace it, but that’s not expected to be along until 2021. To the perking up of petrolheads everywhere, the next two-door 2 will remain rear-wheel drive, on a slightly different platform to that of this 2-series Gran Coupe. Confused? So are we…
The four-door Gran Coupe is front-wheel-drive, since it’s built upon the exact same transverse-engined architecture as the current-generation 1-series. The top M235i xDrive version adds on-demand all-wheel drive, however.
Righto. What’s this one like?
Unsurprisingly, much like a 1-series: same wheelbase, similar nose, virtually the same cabin in the front. At the back there’s a normal boot instead of a tailgate hatchback, so you can’t fit tall things in so easily, but it’s still deep and roomy.
If you’re approaching 6ft or taller you need to duck a bit to get under the cant rail and you might find the top and the back of your head brushes the roofline if you settle back into the headrest, which might niggle on a long journey. But it’s fine for short journeys, or for kids, and there’s plenty of knee room even if you’re sat behind a rangy driver.
Talk me through the range
In the UK there are two ‘normal’ models: the 218i (1.5-litre, three-cylinder petrol), and the 220d (2.0-litre, four-cylinder diesel), both front-wheel-drive. Then there’s the aforementioned range-topping, really rather potent M235i.
The latter is an M Performance model rather than a full M car – that’ll be the M2 replacement, still some way from release – and is a natural rival to the likes of the Mercedes-AMG A35 saloon and Audi S3 saloon.
Let’s start with the regular models. What are they like?
So far we’ve tested the 220d diesel in M Sport spec. The engine’s a little grumbly by modern diesel standards, but rich with torque and gets down the road swiftly enough.
While the 218i can be had with a manual gearbox, the 220d is only available with an eight-speed auto. As with many current BMWs, it’s sweetly calibrated and does a nice job of picking the right gear for the right moment without recourse to the override paddles.
Other than some tweaks to account for the longer rear overhang and mildly different weight distribution than the 1-series, the suspension set-up is broadly the same.
All versions use multi-link rear suspension, and body control is top-drawer, absorbing mid-corner bumps without fuss or deviation, but ride comfort on the M Sport suspension really is very tough on rough roads. So much so that it’s worth a back-to-back test drive to be sure that you’d be happy living with it.
Right, the fast one. What’s the M235i like?
The interior is only a small step up from a regular 218i or 220d in M Sport trim, with some go-faster-striped seat belts and extra alcantara the main highlights. But it drives like a different car.
On narrow, undulating roads north of Lisbon, the M235i turns in and changes direction like a horizontal yoyo, with great response from the front Pirellis (in the dry at least).
Like the regular 220d, the steering set-up is very fast, with little need to move your hands from quarter-to-three. The response just past the straight ahead is instant, but it manages to avoid feeling nervous.