BMW 2 Series review
BMW 2 Series looks great, and it's one of the most involving coupes to drive at this price
The BMW 2 Series Coupe was introduced in early 2014 as a replacment for the 1 Series Coupe. It’s based on the latest 1 Series hatchback but slightly stretched to create a sportier coupe bodystyle. Rather than thinking of it as a fancy 1 Series, though, BMW wants you to imagine it as a rival to cars like the Audi TT, Volkswagen Scirocco and Toyota GT 86.
It also borrows its engine line-up from the hatch, and the 181bhp 2.0-litre diesel 220d will likely make up the majority of UK sales. There's also a flagship 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo in the M235i, which boasts 322bhp.
Our Choice: BMW 220d SE
Despite its 1 Series underpinnings, the new 2 Series is a desirable coupe in its own right.
A longer and lower body, wider track and stretched wheelbase give it sportier coupe proportions, while neatly executed detailing adds the final layer of desirability.
The headlamps are narrower than on the hatch and all models get stylish LED tail-lights. Distinctive vents in the lower bumper channel air over the wheels and around the side of the car, while SE models get 17-inch wheels, front foglights and a chrome kidney grille.
Inside, the stylish and well built layout is familiar from the 1 Series, but the frameless windows and long doors are as you’d expect for a coupe. The low-slung seating position is great and there’s lots of adjustment for the steering wheel and seat. Build quality is solid and the well laid-out dashboard is excellent.
Highlights in the standard kit list include the trademark iDrive infotainment controller, a 6.5-inch display screen, aluminium trim, DAB radio and a multifunction wheel. However, you’ll have to pay £1,150 extra for leather seat upholstery, while climate control is a £390 upgrade over the standard manual air-con.
The beautifully sorted rear-wheel-drive chassis strikes a near-perfect balance between fun and comfort, so the 2 Series is one of the most entertaining sub-£30k coupes around.
Extensive use of aluminium in the suspension has reduced unsprung mass, while the traditional BMW 50:50 weight distribution adds to the 220d’s lively responses and agile handling.
Elsewhere, the fast and precise steering helps the car turn in with more vigour than either front-drive rival, while its rear-wheel drive means there’s no corruption of steering feel. Body control is excellent and there’s lots of grip, yet you can adjust its balance mid-corner more easily than in the Peugeot or VW. All the controls offer plenty of feedback, too.
Traction is superb and the six-speed manual gearbox shifts with typical BMW precision. Set the standard Drive Performance Control to Sport mode, and you get a lovely sharp throttle response, which combines with the 2.0-litre diesel’s punchy nature to make the 220d feel quicker than you’d expect.
On the road, there’s plenty of urge between 2, 000 and 3,000rpm, which means lots of usable performance. And aside from being slightly gruff at idle, refinement is excellent, with very little engine noise on the move.
The standard run-flat tyres have a slightly firm edge, but with our test car’s £750 Adaptive M Sport suspension, the ride is impressively composed. It’s engaging on a twisty road and comfortable on long trips, so it’s very hard to find fault with the driving experience.
Clearly, the M235i is a slightly different kettle of fish to the more pedestrian 2 Series models. It’s stiffer and more aggressive, but in a way that’s still surprisingly accessible. It’ll accelerate from 0-62mph in five seconds but won’t bite you in the corners if you’re a bit too aggressive with your inputs. It’s huge amounts of fun and you’ll have to look as far as a Porsche Cayman before you find a coupe with better handling.
The new 2 Series shares most of its parts with the 1 Series, which has been on sale for a few years, so there’s no need to have any concerns about new car niggles.
Not that there should ever be with a BMW – the brand has a good reputation for reliability and scored well in our Driver Power 2013 satisfaction survey.
Euro NCAP hasn’t crash tested a 2 Series yet, but it should get the same five-star rating as the 1 Series. Dynamic brake lights and an alarm are standard, while safety options include autobrake and lane departure warning.
BMW coupes have always been very usable everyday cars, and the new 2 Series is no different. Its wheelbase is 30mm longer than the old 1 Series Coupe’s, while boot capacity is up 20 litres to 390 litres – giving the BMW the largest load area in this test. Better still, the tailgate opens to reveal a usefully large aperture, plus the rear bench splits and folds.
Passengers sitting in the back also fare well. Legroom is a fraction tighter than in the VW Scirocco, but with bigger side windows and better headroom, the 2 Series feels more spacious, plus the two individual rear seats are supportive and comfortable.
Up front, there’s plenty of stowage, with decent door pockets, plus a big glovebox and centre cubby. Rear parking sensors, auto lights and Bluetooth are standard, plus BMW’s excellent Professional Navigation system is available as a pricey option.
The big-sellers in the UK will be the diesel-powered 2 Series models and that’s partly down to their low running costs. The 218d is cheapest of the bunch, boasting economy of 62.8mpg (64.2mpg with the auto) and CO2 emissions as low as 119g/km. BMW reckons the 220d will be the most popular, capable of 58.9mpg with the manual or 64.2mpg with the automatic gearbox.
The petrol models aren’t particularly far behind, with the 220i claiming 44.8mpg (47.1mpg with the auto). The M235i is the least frugal by quite some margin but when you consider it can do 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds, you can forgive the 37.2mpg fuel economy figure.
As standard BMW offers a three-year/ unlimited mileage warranty with the 2 Series and if you don’t want any nasty service or maintenance surprises then you can go for the Service Inclusive Plus package. It costs just over £1,000 but covers all of those costs for the first five years/50,000 miles. Plus, our experts’ retained value prediction of 47.6 per cent is nothing to be ashamed of.