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BMW 2 Series Coupe review - Engines, performance and drive

Capable petrol engines offer solid performance, while the more hardcore models will appeal to keen drivers

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Engines, performance and drive Rating

4.2 out of 5

Price
£37,790 to £51,490
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Although its Gran Coupe and Active Tourer siblings are based on the front-wheel drive UKL platform, the 2 Series Coupe uses BMW’s CLAR underpinnings which means it can offer rear or all-wheel drive set-ups. The German manufacturer claims its Cluster Architecture helps to improve the Coupe’s agility, while bringing more accurate steering and enhanced cornering dynamics. Torsional rigidity is also up by 12 per cent over the previous model.

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BMW expects the entry 181bhp 220i petrol model to be its biggest seller. Aside from the fact it’s around £4,000 cheaper than its more powerful 230i sibling, it has just enough oomph to keep things interesting, although the way it delivers its power is rather benign. 

There’s no massive turbo surge in the mid-range, and there’s no point wringing it out to the red line – it’s better to view the 220i as a swift(ish) coupe that’s more at home as a refined cruiser than a rev-happy racer. If you’re prioritising a little more B-road ability, then the 230i petrol version offers the extra power (61bhp) and torque (100Nm) to help keep things entertaining.

With a focus on achieving a 50:50 weight distribution, BMW has engineered the 2 Series Coupe with its bonnet, front wings and suspension components all made of lightweight aluminium – helping to reduce weight from the nose and making the car keener to turn-in. It all feels sharp, but easily controllable, although we’d like a little more steering feel when on the limit.

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The M240i model utilises BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system, but retains a rear-drive feel and balance to how it handles. We like it a lot, and value its ‘mini-GT’ character over rivals such as the Porsche Cayman and Audi TT. The more hardcore M2 is rear-wheel drive-only, thrilling to drive, incredibly quick and full of character, yet its smooth ride and modest dimensions make it a performance car you can drive every single day.

0-62mph acceleration and top speed

You might find the 2 Series engine range slightly limited, but there should be just enough on offer for most tastes. First up is the 220i 2.0-litre petrol model, and with 181bhp and 300Nm of torque it manages 0-62mph in a passable 7.5 seconds and a top speed of 147mph. The axed 220d diesel version provided 187bhp and 400Nm of torque which helped it cut the 0-62mph sprint time to 6.9 seconds, but top speed was the same.

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Things start to get a little more serious with the 230i petrol model; it generates 242bhp and has the same torque figure as the diesel unit, although it manages to trim a full second from the oil burner’s 0-62mph time. The 230i feels much stronger than the lesser 220i, and its extra shove can be felt throughout the rev range. The four-pot engine doesn’t produce the most soulful exhaust noise, but it’s got a deep, bassy tone.

The numbers for the standalone M240i xDrive speak for themselves: with 369bhp and 500Nm of torque on tap from its 3.0-litre, twin-turbocharged six-cylinder petrol engine, it blasts from 0-62mph in 4.3 seconds and can hit a top speed of 155mph. The rich six-cylinder soundtrack adds to the driving experience, and it even sounds special when you’re pottering around at low speeds.

The M2 turns things up to 11, with the twin-turbo, 3.0-litre straight-six under its bulging bonnet producing a hefty 454bhp and 550Nm, all of which is sent to the rear wheels only. Equipped with the standard automatic the M2 will hit 62mph in 4.1 seconds, while those featuring the optional six-speed manual take 4.3 seconds to complete the same benchmark sprint. Top speed stands at 155mph.

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Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    220i M Sport 2dr Step Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £36,655

Most Economical

  • Name
    220d MHT M Sport 2dr Step Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £37,640

Fastest

  • Name
    M240i xDrive 2dr Step Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £47,990
News reporter

As our news reporter, Ellis is responsible for covering everything new and exciting in the motoring world, from quirky quadricycles to luxury MPVs. He was previously the content editor for DrivingElectric and won the Newspress Automotive Journalist Rising Star award in 2022.

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