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BMW turns up the ante in the premium compact class with the 2 Series Gran Coupe, a four-door coupe with a ton of features and a drive to impress.

29 Feb 2020


Catfishing. A term millennials use to describe meeting someone for the first time and, unlike their online persona, doesn't quite match up in looks.

When BMW first showed photos of the 2 Series Gran Coupe in October, the internet was rife with displeasure. First the beloved rear-driven 1 Series gone, and now this four-door coupe thing?!

Like the 1 Series, the 2 Series Gran Coupe doesn't do well on first impressions. But spend a little time with it, and you'll find that it is indeed quite special.

Quite a looker

The 2 Series Gran Coupe is a real looker in person, with its wide shoulders and tapered greenhouse
Don't believe the photos. In person, the 2er Gran Coupe is a handsome-looking car. Though it doesn't have the sleek, sensual lines like the Mercedes CLA Coupe, it does carry a stronger, bolder front.

Now, strong and bold isn't a bad thing. We especially like the squared-off rear, akin to the 6 Series Gran Turismo. And in this M Sport variant, pushes the bold persona further with sportier bumpers, bigger wheels and blacked out trims.

In all, the 2er Gran Coupe's design gives off the impression that it is a much bigger car. It certainly attracts attention, because at least on this side of compact BMWs, there's nothing quite like it.

A driver's space

The purposeful interior feels expensive and upmarket, with high quality furnishings
Enter the car and you'd probably think you're in a 3 Series instead. It is a great space, but it isn't one that jumps at you for attention.

You'll find this space to be one that's truly driver-focused. Information displayed on the two 10.25-inch screens are clear and legible, and swiping through menus is a smooth and seamless affair.

The 2er is also stacked with features. There is wireless charging, wireless Apple CarPlay, and BMW's own suite of connected services that offer real-time traffic updates and even concierge services.

Along with being feature-rich, we're happy to report the new model on this page still offers important vehicle functions using actual buttons.

Important vehicle functions are accessed with well-positioned buttons
Switches like air-conditioning, drive modes and volume controls are all within easy reach, so you rarely have a situation where you're diving through menus just to turn something off.

With it, everything feels expensive and solid to the touch. There's a vast amount of soft-touch materials too, and compared to the visually animated interiors of Merc's compact range today, this is something we prefer.

More coupe than sedan

BMW has taken big strides to improve practicality levels in its compact class offerings, with the biggest being the move to front-wheel drive to offer more interior space. Like the 1 Series, the 2er offers a reasonable amount of rear legroom.

There's enough legroom for adults, but headroom comes a little too close for comfort in the rear
But there is a small price to pay for style. This 1.78m writer found headroom to be a little too close for comfort, no thanks to the sloping roofline. Thus, it is best suited for two in the rear, with the middle seat best left for armrest duties.

Still, there's plenty of stowage areas for loose items, with big cubby holes and compartments.

Topping it off is a boot that is 30 litres bigger than the 1 Series, at 430 litres.

Coupe-like looks, coupe-like drive

The turbocharged three-cylinder powerplant churns out 138bhp and 220Nm of torque
Powering the 218i Gran Coupe is a 1.5-litre, turbocharged three-cylinder lump that puts out 138bhp and 220Nm of torque to the front wheels. Put your foot down and the century sprint is dispatched in 8.7 seconds.

These numbers might not seem like much, but it is more than adequate on the road. Plus, the powerplant feels more willing and cheerful as you build the revs compared to the Merc CLA.

The seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox does a great job swapping cogs to keep revs within the powerband, so you rarely see the need to do it yourself.

This is a car for people who enjoy driving. The joyful powerplant does encourage you to go a little bit quicker, and the 218i never protests. Chuck it hard into a corner and you are rarely at the limits of grip, for the car's traction control system keeps everything in check even with hard throttle or little steering inputs.

The 2er Gran Coupe remains settled and composed in normal driving situations
Turn down the fun and you'll find the Gran Coupe more composed when compared to the 1 Series, which perhaps is due to the lower and longer body. Plus, it has a reasonable amount of driving assistance features, like Lane Keeping, Lane Departure along with Blind Spot Monitoring systems to keep your drive in check.

The four-door coupe compact to get?

BMW took a while to get into the compact four-door coupe game, and good for them. It isn't some haphazard attempt. It is feature-rich, drives well and offers a lot of character - something you rarely see in new cars nowadays.

The new BMW is a pretty decent package, with looks that will grow on you
Now, the Mercedes-Benz CLA200 is the Gran Coupe's direct competitor, priced from $181,888 (as of 28 February 2020) for the Progressive trim.

The 218i Gran Coupe - in its highest M Sport trim - is a better deal at $18,000 less, at just $163,888. You can even opt for the Luxury trim, doing away with the M Sport goodies for $3,000 less.

Of course, it goes without saying that the CLA offers a lot more style and presence, and despite the higher price, many will still lean towards the baby Merc for those qualities.

First impressions matter a lot, for sure, but spend some time with the Gran Coupe and you may well be hooked to it.

Want to get a better look of this four-door coupe's styling? Why not watch our video review here!



Car Information

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BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe 218i M Sport (A)
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Price

: $171,888

Engine Type

:

3-cylinder in-line TwinPower Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

1499cc

Horsepower

:

103kW (138 bhp) / 6500 rpm

Torque

:

220 Nm / 4200 rpm

Transmission

:

7-speed (A) Steptronic DCT

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

0

Top Speed

:

215km/h

Fuel consumption

:

16.9 km/L

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