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TEST DRIVE

The BMW 2 Series Coupé is a passionate driver’s car through and through

The BMW 2 Series Coupé is a passionate driver’s car through and through
The newly launched BMW M240i 2 Series Coupé. (Photo: BMW SA)

If you can get past trying to figure out BMW’s penchant for complicated nomenclature, the 2 Series Coupé is a straightforward joy ride.

Look, don’t get me wrong. I love Germans. I’ve been involved with one for eight years and my grandfather came straight from Deutschland to South Africa in the mid-1920s. And when it has anything to do with their cars, I’m generally a huge fan. 

However, when it comes to complicated detail, the Germans can take it to a whole new level. Take, for example, the numbering/naming system used by the Bavarian manufacturer to christen its vehicles.

There was a time when all you had to do was look at a badge on the boot and if it said “330i” you knew you were looking at a 3 Series, 3-litre petrol sedan. Before World War 2, it was even simpler – what wasn’t? – where all cars were given the number 300, motorcycles got the number 200 and BMW aircraft, 100.

In the 1980s, things were still pretty clear: there were the good old 3, 5 and 7 Series – all sedans. Then along came SUVs in the new millennium, branded X, denoting the all-wheel x-drive systems and when the all-electric i8 and i3 were launched, deciphering models was still a breeze.    

The 2 Series Gran Coupé. (Photo: BMW SA)

In 2013, BMW introduced the 4 Series as a two-door spinoff of the 3 Series. The following year, along came the 2 Series as a coupé derivative of the 1 Series. At first it wasn’t that hard to understand that generally odd numbers – ie, the 1, 3, 5 and 7 Series were all four-door or five-door sedans, (unless they had an X in front and then they were SUVs) and the straight evens – 2 and 4 – were two-door coupés. 

But then new models like the Gran Coupé and Gran Turismo appeared, which were primarily differentiated by body shape and power, and suddenly the odd and even rule was broken when the 6 Series Gran Coupé was launched with four doors. To add to the nomenclature maze, you’ve got the X, Z and electric i models (as well as an i model that’s not electric), with Ms everywhere. And don’t forget the 1 Series 128ti, which was launched when BMW decided to revive the old ti badge – and in case you’re wondering, ti stands for “Turismo Internazionale”, which is a nomenclature to signify a car that’s both sporty and practical. 

Which brings me to the point of this story – the arrival of BMW’s latest 2 Series Coupé in South Africa – remember this one was created in 2014 as a two-door spin-off of the BMW 1 Series. The 2022 edition was launched last year at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in the UK where the high-performance M2 version (with its rear-wheel drive and 0-100km in four seconds brag), garnered plenty of speed-freak attention. 

But let’s for a moment keep the theme of “complications” going. Last year BMW added a four-door 2 Series Gran Coupé to the range that has diddly squat in common with this just-launched 2 Series Coupé – this model is in fact based on the 3 Series chassis. So forget any previously mentioned connection to the 1 Series, because the entirely different four-door 2 Series is the one that’s based on the 1 Series hatchback and not the coupé I am reviewing here. I would forgive you for being as confused as I am.   

The 2 Series Coupé has gained 51mm in length. (Photo: BMW SA)

At the launch there were three 2 Series Coupé models to choose from: the sporty M240i heads the range with 285kW and 500Nm of torque and hurtles from 0-100km in just 4.3 seconds. (Don’t confuse this one with the pure-bred M2, which we will hopefully see in the not-too-distant future.)

The middle of the range 220d turbo diesel with 48V mild hybrid technology offers 140kW and 400Nm, and at 0-100km in seven seconds is half a second quicker than its entry-level 135kW/300Nm 220i four-cylinder turbocharged petrol sibling. 

Design-wise, the latest 2 Series Coupé has been dubbed the “least polarising” BMW model of late due to the fact that its designer, Jose Casas Pena, who lives and works in Mexico, decided to keep the old more traditional kidney-shaped grille. You would have had to be living in a cave to not be aware of the furore BMW’s new grille has caused since being introduced in 2020. So in the 2, we have what many might call “a proper grille”, one that is shallow and wide, instead of upright and pinched.

In the design, Pena pays homage to classic two-door saloon models from the 1960s as inspiration for the new 2 Series Coupé with its simple lines and bulging wheel arches. The elongated bonnet with short overhangs adds to its sporty vibes.

The 2 Series Coupé’s updated cabin. (Photo: BMW SA)

The leather multifunction steering wheel. (Photo: BMW SA)

Inside, you’ll experience a classy, simple and beautifully built cabin that resembles that of the 3 Series. As one would expect from BMW, there’s high-quality leather, faux polished aluminium and plenty of soft-touch surfaces. The front seats are low-slung sporties, and although I doubt many will use the back seats, (clambering into the rear is never that comfortable in a coupé), there’s a tad more room for passengers thanks to a 51mm longer wheelbase and a bit more space in the 390-litre boot for luggage.  

All models come with a host of goodies including ambient lighting, three-zone climate control and a great-to-grip leather multifunction steering wheel. There’s also cloud-based navigation and BMW’s celebrated ConnectedDrive in-car services.

Standard equipment comprises the BMW Live Cockpit with a 12.3-inch digital instrument cluster and 10.25-inch infotainment display with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto support.

The infotainment system, once you’ve got used to the BMW operating system, is easy to use, with good resolution and is Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatible. BMW also has a subscription service that allows you to add options to your car as and when you need it and then allows you to unsubscribe when you don’t want or need them any more.

The entry-level 2 Series 220i. (Photo: BMW SA)

A small gripe, when it comes to the cabin and its offerings, is that there’s very little to distinguish between the three models, while the pricing between the entry-level 220i and M240i is substantial. But then the M240i does offer far more when it comes to the car’s DNA, like tweaked sport suspension, upgraded brakes, and an intelligent M Differential, which works between the rear wheels in order to access extra traction when unleashing this speed king. The entry-level 220i, on the other hand, benefits from the high-end cabin finishes and looks more expensive than its price tag signifies. 

I got to drive both the straight 220i and the flagship speedster and of course it was the M240i with its revs and growls that left me most impressed. It has a life of its own as it roars to speed with instantaneous response from the engine and its eight-speed automatic gearbox. The uprated braking system is superb, and assisted by its sports suspension, I felt like a proper pro when taking corners. 

Surprisingly, fuel consumption in the 220i is relatively frugal at 6.3l/100km. Although I did not test the diesel on the day, the 220d sips just 4.3l/100km and will be the one to go for if you’re tearing out your hair each time you have to fill up. While the M240i is obviously the thirstiest in the family, with 8l/100km claimed – I got closer to 12 –  this is a passionate driver’s car through and through and one really feels it’s rude not to overtake anything in its way, while muttering “screw the fuel bill”. DM

Pricing: BMW 2 Series 

BMW 220i Coupé: R771,900

BMW 220d Coupé: R819, 278

BMW M240i Coupé xDrive: R1,062,420 

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