Superb engines, especially the six-cylinder. Solid chassis dynamics. Good refinement and ergonomics
Is it just us who were hoping for a bit more teen spirit? It acts too much like its bigger siblings
What is it?
BMW's latest small boxy-looking coupe. You don’t need us to tell you it’s got great history here, and yet it's actually pretty brave of BMW to keep the faith: most other makers are walking away from affordable sporty piston-engined cars, in favour of crossovers and electrics. So we’re mighty glad this exists at all.
And the latest 2 Series Coupe is dressed to impress. It's short, and much of that length is given over to the bonnet. The cabin and bootlid are abbreviated, and squeezed rearward. The nose is bluff, the grille – mercifully, if you care not for the 4 Series – is shallow. The wheel-arches bulge like cartoon pecs.
You don't have too look hard to see 2002 Turbo, 1 Series M, and M2 – and there’s a new one of those coming, too. This is a car with a visible and fizzy history.
SO IS IT TAUT AND SHARP, EVEN A LITTLE BIT HOT-RODDISH?
Actually, no. It feels very much like a 4 Series. Specifically, the first version of the 2 Series Coupe we've tested is an M240i xDrive. And it feels very much like an M440i xDrive, which we ran as a long termer a couple of years back.
Now if you delve beneath the skin, that's no great surprise. The 2 Series uses the engines, transmissions, and suspension from the 4 Series. Just a shorter wheelbase and slightly different suspension tune. Emphasis on the 'slightly' – the changes are mostly to compensate the different weights.
So, it's a quick but relatively subdued car. Excellent engine, terrific transmission, great grip, relaxing refinement. All available alliterations, and all more of which we explore in-depth over on the driving tab.
WHAT'S THE CHOICE OF MODELS?
The M240i xDrive is 4WD only. But there are two rear-drive versions: the 220i and 230i. Both use what is fundamentally the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine, but where the 220i gets 182bhp and a 0-62mph time of 7.5secs, the 230i gets 242bhp and a 0-62mph time of 5.9 seconds.
BUT AREN'T OTHER 2 SERIES FRONT-DRIVE? I'M CONFUSED...
To be clear, the 2 Series Coupe respects BMW's heritage, with a longitudinal engine. Its two-wheel-drive versions are RWD. That makes it a totally different kettle of Fisch from the four-door 2 Series Gran Coupe and the 2 Series Active Tourer, which are transverse engined FWD.
Inside it’s typical BMW build and quality, with all the usual instruments and controls including iDrive wheel. For how much longer remains uncertain, with BMW having binned this in the likes of the 2 Series Active Tourer in favour of its new, less user-friendly Curved Display – if you’re considering one of these we’d advise you to buy while it remains. Full details over on the interior tab.
This generation of 2 Coupe is built in Mexico, by the way, because the Americans love them. With just three models to choose from, it's a pretty narrow range for a BMW. But to be honest it's a joy it exists at all. The obvious rivals are nearly all based on front-drive hatchbacks.
YOU HAVEN’T MENTIONED THE PRICE YET…
You need but ask: the 220i starts £37,245, the 230i £41k give or take a fiver, and the M240i £49,310. In the UK each comes in just one trim level, with comparatively few options. Head over to the buying section for more.
What's the verdict?
Here's a pure coupe that'll warm the heart of traditionalists. It's a very finessed thing to drive, yet superbly refined for daily use. Not a sports car but a sporting car.
Oh, and did we mention fast? The M240i xDrive is as powerful as the 2016 launch version of the M2.
And every 2 Series Coupe is cheaper by a useful margin than the equivalent if larger 4 Series Coupe. Given the 2 Series probably met its engineers' targets so closely, it seems a bit grumpy to be criticising it. But here goes.
We're struggling to see why, having gone to the trouble of building a car that looks so different from the 4 Series, they didn't make one that feels different. Sure, they were using the same mechanicals, but they could still have made more separation through the chassis tuning.
We wanted the 2 Series to feel more lithe and sharp, to give more feedback – even at the expense of long-distance comfort. The 2 Series looks like a little tearaway, but doesn't feel like that.