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20 Feb 2020

What We Dislike
It's more clinical and predictable than a rear-wheel driven BMW
It's going to take a while before gaining popularity over the Mercedes-Benz CLA

The 2 Series Gran Coupe M235i is BMW's smallest four-door coupe that is fashionably big on design and remarkably capable on the road.

When it comes to new car models, it's not often a good thing when you're the last to launch a car in a particular segment, even though the saying 'better late than never' is often used. That's because latecomers have a lot of catching up to do in terms of market share.

In the case of the premium compact sedan segment, Mercedes-Benz has been dominating it with its attractive CLA since 2013 and Audi with its handsome but aged A3 Sedan since 2014 - both of which are key rivals to the all new BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe, a latecomer to the party.

Late but nonetheless good-looking

The new BMW model is good-looking even from the back
Still, there's no denying that the new BMW model is easily the best-looking of the lot, even if the CLA comes arguably close. Thanks to its bold lines and angular curves that are headlined by the exclusive contoured kidney grille bars, the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe bears a strong sense of aggression that gives it the sporty and planted road presence that none of its peers have.

And, it's just as appealing on the inside. It boasts the same high quality materials as the 3 Series Sedan, with knobs and buttons operating with a superior feel and satisfying click.

The 2 Series Gran Coupe also gets the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant first seen in the BMW 3 Series - a system that has the ability to respond to the driver in a number of different ways through voice control.

Space for the family

430 litres of boot space at your calling (left); knock the rear seats down and space increases a couple of notches
In terms of space, the spanking new four-door coupe doesn't disappoint. Unlike other Gran Coupes in BMW's lineup, the 2 Series Gran Coupe has space for three instead of just two at the back, thanks to the lower transmission tunnel hump.

Plus, with a wheelbase of 2,670mm, rear passengers get a decent amount of legroom. Headroom is decent and despite its sloping roofline, it's certainly more than what you'd get compared to the CLA.

However, where it loses out to the Merc is its boot space. At 430 litres, it falls short to the CLA's 460 litres but manages to have a slight edge over the Audi A3 Sedan's 425 litres.

Driving me nuts

The top-of-the-line M235i will finish the century sprint in 4.9 seconds
Also having a slight edge over its peers is the way the 2er drives. The top-of-the-line M235i that we tested here has a distinct athleticism that instils confidence. And that has little to do with its immense output of 302bhp and 450Nm of torque, or its ability to gobble up tarmac in an instant before reaching the 100km/h mark in 4.9 seconds.

Instead, it's the way the car glides through tight corners and twisty tarmacs with maximum grip and minimum drama that makes the 2 Series Gran Coupe such a joy to pilot. Its well-weighted and communicative steering certainly helps, too, allowing you to throw the car from one corner to another with reckless abandon.

Hence, the car you see here manages to give you a level of engagement and entertainment none of its peers are able to provide. Hell, it even manages to soak up road undulations with its pliant and composed ride should you decide to take it down a couple of notches on the road.

The car is a hoot to pilot, especially aorund the twisties
Still, you do get the sense that the all-wheel driven M235i lacks the drama of a rear-wheel driven car. It does feel clinical and predictable, but it's never to the point of being boring.

Why does this car matter?

Buyers who were previously keen to get a premium compact sedan from BMW - and found that the 3 Series was not quite within their budget - were unfortunately forced to look elsewhere.

This gave its competitors like the Audi A3 Sedan, the Mercedes-Benz CLA and, more recently, the Mercedes-Benz A-Class Saloon ample opportunities to increase their market share and popularity in this segment.

Power comes from the most powerful four-cylinder engine of the BMW Group that you see here
Now, however, with the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe, there's another option for buyers and it's nevertheless an option that's both appealing and compelling, thanks to its good looks and solid driving dynamics.

So will BMW be able to catch up after being this late to the party when arrives? Well, you know what they say... Better late than never.

The BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe M235i xDrive will have an estimated price of $249,888 (as of press time) when it arrives at the showroom on 22 February 2020.

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