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The Top Gear car review: BMW 2 Series Coupe

£22,300£36,215
7/10
Overall verdict

For: 

Well engineered, efficient, excellent handling and controls

Against: 

Not as sexy looking as a coupe should be
Far better looking than the 1-Series Coupe. Driving and owning qualities mark it out as a real BMW.

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Our choice

BMW

M235i 2dr

£33,995
N/A
35mpg
5.00s
326bhp
189g/km

What we say: 

1-Series has become 2-Series. So it must be twice as good, right? Well, it's certainly prettier...

What is it?

Just as the 6-Series and 4-Series are the sportier body-styles of the 5-Series and 3-Series, so the 2-Series is a coupe that uses 1-Series foundations. It’s a traditional three-box jobbie with a separate boot. A conservative formula, yes, but it’ll please the misty-eyed types who yearn for the 2002, or the E30 3-Series two-door. Engines are familiar small-BMW fare, so have an emphasis on turbocharging and downsizing. Pleasingly though, there’s still a sweet straight-six.

Driving

The lower-power 1-Series engines aren’t available, so it gets along well. There’s a 220i and 220d, both with 184bhp (218d and 225d come later). The petrol is smooth and doesn’t mind being worked hard; the diesel has more torque but it’s not the quietest of its kind. Both get from 0-62mph in the seven-second region. Steering and handling are among the best you’ll find, even though not set up to be especially sharp. All the controls operate with BMW’s signature accuracy and progression (the six-speed manual is snappy, the optional eight-speed auto is superb). Ride and refinement are more than decent. 

But the M235i is a hoot. The gorgeous M-fettled six-cylinder engine serves up almost spectacular acceleration, but it doesn’t faze the much tautened suspension and brakes (slightly better even than the M135i). In many ways it’s more road fun than the ballistic but muzzled M5.

On the inside

Pretty much standard-issue BMW here. The dash is lifted from the 1-Series. The seats and steering wheel are adjustable for almost everyone. In the back, it’s better than a 2+2 but a pinch as a real four-seater. Build quality feels solid, and everything’s laid out clearly. All models get an iDrive controller and a 6.5-inch display; upgrade to £890 navigation and it’s the same, or there’s a top-end navi and connectivity setup with a high-res 8.8-incher. The three regular trim levels – standard, Sport and Modern – are more about visuals and trim than actual equipment. The M Sport gives you a slightly tauter chassis and bigger wheels. 

The options lists are far too lengthy to summarise here, but be sure to have something pretty plain, or you’ll emerge from the dealer with such a top-heavy car the salesman will be buying a round for the entire pub that night.

Owning

Pick carefully and you’ll have a good performance/economy balance. BMW also does impressive fixed-price service packages, and depreciation is OK if you restrain the options-ticking. The diesels compare well in overall costs with a Mercedes CLA. Of course the M235i is thirstier and a bit insurance-hostile at group 39, but honestly we still call it a bargain.

Highlights from the range

Title 0–62 CO2 MPG BHP Price
The fastest
M235i 2dr Step Auto
4.8s 176g/km 37.2 326 £35,680
The cheapest
218i SE 2dr
8.8s 125g/km 52.3 136 £22,300
The greenest
220d [190] Sport 2dr Step Auto
7.0s 104g/km 72.4 190 £28,510

Wildcard

How about something completely different?

Wildcard

5/10

Mini Paceman

£18,930£33,200
A 2-Series says you don't want normal. A Mini Paceman certainly isn't normal. Sadly it isn't that great