If SUVs and crossovers have been the biggest automotive craze of recent years, then four-door coupes have to be a close second. What began with cars such as the Mercedes-Benz CLS and Volkswagen Passat CC has expanded across the market, suffixed with badges such as ‘coupe’ and ‘fastback’.
BMW’s suffix of choice is Gran Coupe, and after appearing on 4-series, 6-series and 8-series models, it’s now appended to the 2-series too. With no proper coupe model of the 1-series planned, this is the sleekest the new front-wheel-drive-based car is likely to get, and comes with a modest range of engines, from a turbocharged three-cylinder through a four-pot diesel and on to the range-topping M235i xDrive.
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Until now we’ve been most familiar with the sportiest version of the 1-series, the M135i, and in all but shape the M235i is largely the same. Unfortunately, that means it falls short of our expectations, for while it’s undoubtedly a fast and capable car, it’s not as entertaining as rivals, nor feels as special as the old six-cylinder, rear-drive models.
Plenty of customers will doubtless be happy with their 2-series purchases, but where once you could make a case for the smallest BMWs offering something no other rival did, the latest car gives you little reason to choose it over a Mercedes-Benz CLA.
BMW 2-series Gran Coupe: in detail
- Engine, gearbox and technical specs – Three- and four-cylinder petrols and a four-pot diesel. Manual only on the three-pot, with all-wheel drive for the M235i.
- Performance and 0-60 time – All are respectable performers, with the M235i naturally strongest – though it’s not a particularly enjoyable engine.
- Ride and handling – Agile and competent, but struggles to really entertain, without any defining character to hook you in.
- MPG and running costs – Frugal engines should keep running costs relatively low.
- Interior and tech – Standards of build are best in class, though the swoopy roofline has cut down on rear passenger space.
- Design – Far from pretty even by recent BMW standards, but some may like the quirkier elements.
Prices, specs and rivals
Gran Coupe pricing kicks off with the 218i in Sport trim, the lowest trim level you can get in the UK market. BMW’s on the road price is £25,815, rising to £28,315 for M Sport trim. The 220d is next up, at £31,355 in Sport trim and £33,855 as an M Sport. At the top of the range, the M235i xDrive comes in at £37,255 on the road.
Standard equipment in Sport includes 17-inch alloy wheels, cloth upholstery for the sports seats, cruise control, a sport bodykit and parking sensors, among other touches. M Sport steps up to 18-inch alloy wheels and a more aggressive body styling package, a 10.25-inch touchscreen display to the Sport’s 8.8-inch screen, leather trim, dedicated steering and suspension settings, and heated seats. If you opt for the manual with the 218i, there’s also a special gearknob and shorter shift action.
Most relevant market comparison is with Mercedes’ recently launched second-generation CLA. The entry point is higher, with a CLA180 starting at £28,690, but that does net AMG Line trim and a standard automatic gearbox, with similar performance to the 218i Gran Coupe.
Similarly, at the upper end of the CLA range you’ll find the M235i equivalent, the CLA35. Pricing here begins at £39,320, a little more than for the BMW, though for us there’s no contest – the CLA is more fun to drive than the BMW, has a more innovative and appealing cabin (if not quite as well constructed), and more elegant styling to boot.