BMW has certainly hit its maturity targets. Both 2-series Gran Coupes we’ve tried ride well, rounding off the worst bumps yet maintaining control of their faculties over cambers and undulations. The sharp steering has decent weight and both engines are smooth and responsive, and their gearboxes shift cleanly.
Thing is, the 2-series just isn’t that fun. There’s plenty of everything you’d expect from a car like this, with strong pace, ample traction and lateral grip, a precise front end, good mid-corner balance, and strong brakes that are easy to modulate.
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But their engines are also largely characterless, even with the M235i’s in its rowdier Sport mode. The three-cylinder strains while the four-cylinder drones, neither having any verve to their delivery, and there’s not quite enough feedback through the otherwise well-judged controls to involve you in the act of driving.
If you’re wondering why both petrols are being lumped into those descriptions, it’s because whether driving a basic 218i or the sporty M235i, they actually share plenty of characteristics. The M235i is faster and firmer than the 218i certainly, but not notably more involving to drive.
There’s a sense that the M235i has probably hit a bunch of objective internal measures within BMW and given the go-ahead as a result. Without the six-cylinder engine, rear-wheel-drive layout and available manual gearbox of its predecessor though, it has to work much harder for our affections, and instead it feels like BMW has done the bare minimum. The outgoing, five-year-old Golf R is more fun, and the current Mercedes-AMG CLA35 and A35 saloon more engaging.