In-depth reviews

BMW 2 Series Coupe review - Engines, performance and drive

A well-honed rear drive chassis and powerful engines make the 2 Series fun to drive

The BMW 2 Series gets a beautifully sorted rear-wheel-drive chassis, which strikes a near-perfect balance between fun and comfort. In fact, 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 car's lively responses and agile handling.

Elsewhere, the fast and precise steering and rear-drive balance helps the car turn in with more vigour than front-drive rivals like the Audi TT. There isn’t a great deal of steering feel, but the driving position is perfect, the steering ideally weighted and body control is excellent. There’s lots of grip, yet you can adjust its balance mid-corner more easily than in the Audi.

Traction is superb and the six-speed manual gearbox shifts with more precision than some of the older, notchier BMW gearshifts. The optional eight-speed automatic is one of the world’s best automatic gearboxes, with a huge breadth of ability that makes it as adept at relaxed cruising as it is at lightning fast manual changes when you’re driving quickly. Set the standard Drive Performance Control to Sport mode, and you get a lovely sharp throttle response, which combines to make the 2 Series feel quicker than you’d expect.

The standard run-flat tyres have a slightly firm edge, but with BMW's optional 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. Delving into BMW’s M Performance accessories range allows you to ramp up your 2 Series’ dynamic ability, with options like more powerful brakes and a limited-slip differential.

Clearly, the M240i (previously badged M235i) is a slightly different proposition to the more pedestrian four-cylinder 2 Series models. It’s stiffer and more aggressive, but in a way that’s still surprisingly accessible. It produces 335bhp from its 3.0-litre straight six and will accelerate from 0-62mph in less than five seconds. It never feels like it'll bite you in the corners if you’re a bit too aggressive with your inputs, offering huge amounts of fun. The M2 is a lot more aggressive, however.

Engines

On the road, all engines have plenty of usable performance. And aside from diesels being slightly gruff at idle, refinement is excellent, with very little engine noise on the move. The diesels are quiet and refined, but for aural thrills, the six-cylinder M240i is the king of the mainstream 2 Series range, with a revvy, sonorous engine note that could fool you into thinking the car isn’t turbocharged. The M2 is a step beyond even that.

Which Is Best

Cheapest

  • Name
    218i SE 2dr [Nav]
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £25,245

Most Economical

  • Name
    218d SE 2dr [Nav]
  • Gearbox type
    Manual
  • Price
    £27,495

Fastest

  • Name
    M240i 2dr [Nav] Step Auto
  • Gearbox type
    Semi-auto
  • Price
    £39,340

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