BMW 220d 2014 review

26 Feb, 2014 10:15am Luke Madden

The BMW 220d diesel will be a top seller, but does it match the coupe's sporty image?


Despite the fact it doesn’t have the firepower or chassis upgrades of the M235i, this basic BMW 220d is still one of the finest handling coupes for under £30,000. More than that, though, it feels like a really grown-up, comfortable car with a high-quality cabin and premium design. The only real let-down of this package is the engine, which is too gruff under acceleration. There’s always the smoother 220i petrol, though.

This BMW 220d model is set to make up the majority of BMW 2 Series sales, even though the sporty M235i is the star of the range.

It’s a familiar set-up to anyone that knows the BMW 1 Series range – a four-cylinder 2.0-litre diesel providing pretty impressive performance and great running costs. In this case, that means 0-62mph takes just 7.2 seconds and fuel economy stands at 58.9mpg. Go for the auto and those figures improve to 7.1 seconds and 64.2mpg.

The big difference over the 1 Series range on which this car is based is, obviously, the way it looks. The sharper headlights lean in to the grille and the proportions look a lot better resolved than they do in the hatch. Of course, you’ll have to make do with only four seats but you do get an extra 30 litres of space in the boot over the 1 Series.

In terms of the driving dynamics, you’re immediately struck by just how spot-on the chassis set up is. Our car was fitted with optional adaptive dampers (£750) and with them set to Comfort it flows really nicely over the road surface. Even in firmer Sport mode it’ll soak up rough roads while still keeping the body really taut.

And while it can’t compete with the M235i in terms of handling, the 220d is fun in its own way. The slightly softer set-up means you can feel the body moving around a bit more. You almost get more involvement from the chassis at low speeds, in the same way a Toyota GT 86 shines even when you’re nowhere near the speed limit. It feels rear-wheel drive and flexible on the limit in a way that models like the Audi TT or Volkswagen Scirocco struggle to match.

This 220d model is one of three diesel choices, though all are powered by the same 2.0-litre diesel, just in various states of tune. It’s the only diesel we had the chance to drive but you can see why it’ll be a big-seller. You get hot-hatch levels of performance, all while returning about 45mpg during normal driving.

The bad news is that this engine sounds pretty gruff. Some excellent four-cylinder diesels have been released recently and this BMW unit is beginning to look outclassed in terms of refinement. Under hard acceleration it’s pretty unpleasant – it seems really at odds with the sporty handling.

At least once you’re up to speed you’ll find the 2 Series is a really quiet place to spend a long journey. It feels a lot more like a 3 Series, tackling motorways with the comfort and refinement you expect of a far more expensive car.

That’s not to say that the 2 Series is a cheap car in the first place, with this 220d SE model costing £25,865. That’s a few thousand pounds more than a 120d, but you have to look at the 220d as more of a rival to models like the Scirocco and TT rather than an expensive 1 Series. When you take that onboard it’s really competitively priced, especially when you’re getting a car that’s a nice to drive as the 2 Series is.

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Very nice. Not for me, but very nice car.

"you have to look at as a rival to a tt or a scirocco" or maybe you should look at it as a rival to the equivalent A3, as that's what it is.
Does that mean it's a rival to it's own Z4?

Don't think of it as an expensive 1 series? Is it not a 1 series with a boot? Bit nicer than the 1 series, but don't over state it. After all the 2 is an updated 1 coupe.

You really are not very good at this either? The A3 is an overpriced Fiesta driven by wanchor type people like yourself who use PCP and PCH to afford them.

Lambchop you are the one who is not very good at this mate. The A1 is the over-priced Polo in darg (Fiesta sized!). The A3 is Golf-sized. I suggest you actually go to an Audi dealership and physically look at one, or are you too young to drive yet????

Suggesting that the A3 is an overpriced Fiesta is an insult to the Fiesta. An intelligent person would always choose the Ford over the Audi sad aspiration car.

And I think the point being made about the A3 is that it is the junior teeny girly Audi, like the Fiesta is the teeny girly Ford.

I am not sure Audi have sold any A1s. They are rarer than new MGs.

Ahhh, thank you rudepants, you are keeping up with the game I see.

The fiesta is the same size/category as the a1/polo/ibiza and the a3 is the same size/category as the golf/leon/focus. By the way what game are you playing?

Autoexpress you said.................' this basic BMW 220d is still one of the finest handling coupes for under £30,000' are you sure ? lol not driven so cant comment but I rather get the Toyota GT86 anyday, I be very surprised if this 2 series trumps the GT86 ! somehow I doubt it has anything on the Toyota !

We call them segments. But the segment isn't what is being discussed I think. It's more about perceived customer type.

The three is a slightly smaller Mondeo.

Key specs

  • Price: £25,865
  • Engine: 2.0-litre 4-cyl turbodiesel
  • Power: 181bhp
  • Transmission: Six-speed manual, rear-wheel drive
  • 0-62mph: 7.2 seconds
  • Top speed: 143mph
  • Economy/CO2: 58.9mpg/125g/km
  • Equipment: 17-inch alloys, Bluetooth, rear parking sensors, air-con, LED taillights
  • On sale: Now