BMW 2 SERIES GRAN COUPE

A DECENT SPORTING CHANCE

DAVID BONNICI

FIRST AUSSIE DRIVE

BMW’S 2 Series Gran Coupe is the latest interpretation of Munich’s ‘four-door coupe’ concept that began with the 5 Series Gran Turismo in 2009.

Despite the badge, it shares architecture and powertrains with the new 1 Series hatchback rather than the rear-drive, two-door 2 Series Coupe. However, BMW insists this isn’t a 1 Series sedan, even though both models have the same 2670mm wheelbase and virtually identical cabin.

This isn’t a bad thing. The interior is magnificently laid out for a small car, with snug but comfortable front sports seats, though the sloping roofline limits rear headroom.

Standard features include a head-up display, 10.25-inch infotainment screen, digital gauge cluster, wireless phone charging, and ‘Hey BMW’ voice controls. You also get wireless Apple CarPlay that no longer requires a paid subscription, with wireless Android due in mid-2020.

The deep 430-litre boot holds 50 litres more than that of the 1 Series, though the narrow opening can be restrictive.

On the road, the perky front-drive, 103kW/220Nm, 1.5-litre, three-cylinder 218i steers and handles sharply. The seven-speed dual-clutch is inconspicuous at lower speeds and quick and precise when you put the foot down.

The M235i xDrive’s 2.0-litre turbo takes things up to 11, with BMW’s most powerful production four-cylinder engine making 225kW and 450Nm, fed to an eight-speed auto. The xDrive setup favours the front wheels and sends power to the rear axle when needed, which may not placate the purists.

Its 4.9-second 0-100km/h acceleration is near half the 218i’s 8.7sec; pretty remarkable considering the all-paw drivetrain adds an extra 195kg.

Throttle response is eager and there’s a throaty exhaust note that lets out the obligatory racy pops, particularly when engaging the paddleshifters.

M Performance suspension is included in the price. It’s firm but not too uncomfortable, though standard damping is a no-cost option if you prefer a plusher ride. A good compromise is to stick with the sportier suspension, but specify 18-inch wheels instead of the harder-riding 19s. Adaptive dampers are also available for $400, but only with 18s.

Cost of entry to the 2 Series Gran Coupe is $47,990 for the 218i, with the M235i xDrive starting at $69,990.

If high performance isn’t a priority, the 218i seems a no-brainer, although the M235i has twice the oomph and a host of extra kit including M Sport-branded brakes, leather seats, a chunky steering wheel, premium sound system, adaptive LED headlights, and rear spoiler.

And while it costs $5000 more than the M135i and just $2000 less than the excellent 330i sedan, it has a certain X-factor that should attract its own legion of fans, much like the 2 Series Coupe did upon arrival in 2014.

DAVID BONNICI

Model BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupe

Engine 1998cc 4cyl, dohc, 16v, turbo 

Max power 225kW @ 5000-6250rpm 

Max torque 450Nm @ 1750-4500rpm

Transmission 8-speed automatic 

Weight 1540kg

0-100km/h 4.9sec (claimed) 

Economy 7.6L/100km

Price $69,900 Now 

On sale Now

PLUS

Elegant visage; high-end interior; punchy powertrains

MINUS

Costly options; tight rear seats; narrow boot aperture