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The BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe is here to eat the Merc CLA’s lunch

Can’t afford that stunning new M8 Gran Coupe? Here’s the poor people version!

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What the flaming heck is a BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe, we hear you ask? Well, BMW’s been curiously slow to break into the hatchback-based coupe-ish saloon niche. It ran away with the coupe-SUV idea by perpetrating the X6 and X4, and tried to re-invent the saloon car with the 5 and 6 GT. But it’s let the Mercedes CLA rule the four-door mini-coupe-thingy patch for too long. And this is the riposte.

In simple terms, this is the new front-wheel drive 1 Series hatchback with a longer tail and pillarless doors. You can have a quick one in the form of the M235i Gran Coupe – powered by the same 302bhp turbo 2.0-litre motor from the M135i hot hatch. That has four-wheel drive and will go from 0-62mph in 4.9 seconds.

Or, you can have one with the engine out of a mini. Yep, the 218i Gran Coupe packs most of the show with very little of the go, but Mini’s 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine is a gem, and making do with 136bhp means BMW can claim this slippery-looking niche-buster will return almost fifty miles to the gallon.

Alternatively, there’s a 220d diesel, with the lowest CO2 emissions of the bunch. Prices kick off at just under £26k, rising to £37,255 for the M235i GC. Which seems like a lot for a car that’ll have no space in the back.

Ah, but not so fast, protests BMW, armed with numbers, maths and tape measures. BMW says that the 2GC will not only out-steer and out-drive the likes of the Mercedes CLA (it doesn’t namecheck it specifically, but we all know what it’s aiming at), it promises plenty of room for actual humans too.

Compared to the old 2 Series coupe (which was, in fairness a proper actual coupe with only two doors, instead of pretending to be one like this ‘Gran Coupe’), the new 2GC offers 33mm more kneeroom. Remember that one for your next chat-up line, kids. Mercifully, the M235i offers more interesting features than space for knees, like launch control, adaptive Comfort/Sport suspension and a limited-slip differential.

Because it’s based on the dumpy new 1 Series, the new 2 Series Gran Coupe isn’t as naturally elegant as the sensational new M8 Gran Coupe. But is it another step in the right direction for BMW’s increasingly wayward design department?

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