THE 2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe is a four-door compact sedan with coupe styling. On the surface it’s the family friendly version of the ever popular two-door variety that includes the wicked BMW M240i. It’s also different from that coupe though. Very different.
For starters, the 218i version of the Gran Coupe is front-wheel drive, and shares much of its underpinnings with the shiny new hatch-based 1 Series. Think of it as the sedan version, if you will. But before you scoff, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
The entry level model, complete with the M Sport package as standard, is nimble on the road, offering 103kW of power and 220Nm of torque from its 3-cylinder 1.5-litre turbocharged four cylinder power plant.
It’s mated to a 7-speed double clutch steptronic transmission that works well. Gear changes are decisive and well placed, and even when pushed it feels ready to provide the necessary power to achieve the assigned task.
Fuel economy from the little engine is an impressive 5.9-litres/100km and it hauls in the 100km/h mark in what feels like a lazy 8.7 seconds. It sounds under-powered but it doesn’t feel that way. It’s no race car, but by the same token, it doesn’t need to be.
It’s handling prowess, surprising for a FWD, is thanks to the hard work from BMW to make it feel like it’s a rear-wheel drive car. The strategy works well, delivering a vehicle that feels like a hatch with a boot, that happens to drive like a bigger vehicle.
Even though it’s definitely less performance oriented than its all-wheel drive angry sibling, the M235i xDrive, the 218i is fun to drive and feels good on the road. It’s big inside too; another surprise.
To put that claim into some perspective, the new 2 Series Gran Coupe has the same amount of front leg room as the E46 3 Series, and 33mm more rear leg room than that same 3 Series. The front seats feel a little underdone in the comfort stakes though.
Covered in ‘Trygon’ and sensatec black cloth, which feels a little like 80s velour, the front seats are supportive enough, but felt a little too hard. Others my love that in a car seat, but for us, it was just a little uncomfortable.
The interior colour scheme is known as Illuminated Boston, and it genuinely looks good, with all the controls easy to access, with the look and feel up to the standard one expects from BMW, despite an incredible $47,990 plus on-roads launch price.
The technology is exceptional too. The latest version (now at 7.0) of BMW’s Live Cockpit Professional is standard across the range, and includes a head-up display, and a now better integrated 10.25-inch infotainment screen.
That also means such goodies as wireless phone charging, DAB+ digital radio, a six speaker sound system, wireless Apple CarPlay and remote software updating are included.
A digital key is also part of the exceptional technology package offered across the range, allowing you to tap in and out, and even drive without the actual key in the car. We were able to test this functionality and it’s an exceptionally cool concept.
But BMW has a secret they’re now prepared to share. From the second half of this year, wireless Android Auto will be available, with the German car maker the first to have it on board. For non-Apple owners, this is super exciting news.
Jump into the M235i xDrive and the first thing you notice is the significant step up in comfort, thanks to the perforated Dakota black leather that covers the body hugging full M Sport sports seats.
This is the whole box and dice offering for the Gran Coupe range, and it shows, with an abundance of M Sport goodies across the car, including suspension, steering and brakes, as well as a rear spoiler. It also has a torsen limited slip diff and launch control.
That’s without even counting the 16-speaker Harman/Kardon sound system, M badging everywhere, and on-road focused improvements like a better cooling package and reinforced crankshaft.
On the road, the M235i xDrive is angry, powered by the most powerful 4-cylinder motor BMW makes. It offers 225kW of get up and go, and 420Nm of torque from its 2.0-litre engine, which is paired to an 8-speed sports auto transmission.
it can punch its way to 100km/h in 4.9 seconds, and offers fuel economy of 7.6-litres/100km. Handling is better too, and the ride and dynamic performance are exceptional.
It’s a proper bucket of fun to drive, burying itself under hard cornering and eating up the road, with the throaty exhaust note reminding you that this is a performance car. Small it may be, but mighty it is. It’s hard not to simply smile when you put your foot down.
Pricing for the M235i Gran Coupe starts at $69,990 plus on-roads, but our test vehicle (in Sapphire Black Metallic) was fitted with the Comfort Package, Enhancement Package and M Performance Package (see below), upping the cost to $77,100 plus on-roads.
The 2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe range is available in Alpine White, Black Sapphire Metallic, Melbourne Red Metallic, Mineral Grey Metallic, Misano Blue Metallic, Snapper Rocks Blue Metallic and Storm Bay Metallic.
A number of packages are available to enhance the 218i variant, including the Comfort Package that was on our test vehicle, which adds comfort access, heated electric front seats and lumbar support.
There’s also an additional add-on package available for the M235i offering. The M Performance Package includes a black mesh design and high gloss black surrounds for the kidney grille, with the same treatment for the mirror caps and air intakes.
It also adds 18-inch forged alloy wheels for reduced weight, and black tail pipe finishers. The 2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe has a 3-year warranty, an offering BMW says it will stick with, despite rival Mercedes-Benz switching to a 5-year unlimited kilometre offering.
Our test vehicles were provided by BMW Australia as part of a drive day. To find out more about the 2020 2 Series 218i Gran Coupe and M235i xDrive Gran Coupe, contact your local BMW dealer.