Balance of comfort versus cornering. Cabin ergonomics. Air of quality
Not a hatchback. Is it just us, or does it fail in its main aim: style?
What is it?
The word (or rather non-word) Gran matters. The 2 Gran Coupe has remarkably little to do with the 2 Series Coupe. It actually shares most genetic material with the 1 Series hatchback. It's transverse-engined and front-wheel drive – or AWD in the case of the M235i xDrive. It has the same suspension and dash as the 1 Series.
Although BMW has built another Gran Coupe, the 4GC, with a hatchback, this one is a saloon. BMW's view is that 2GC buyers are unlikely be family people and so they don't need the versatility of a hatch. And a fifth door would add cost and weight.
Also, the 2GC will go to China and the US, countries where the 1 Series isn't sold, and which sneer at hatches.
Oh and because it goes to those places, the suspension has been tuned to be noticeably more plush than the 1 Series. Not what you'd expect in a car called Coupe, but as we'll see, it takes rather well to lumpy British-style tarmac.
In short, the 2 Gran Coupe is a rival to the Mercedes CLA. Because you have to see every BMW in context of Mercedes and indeed every Mercedes in context of BMW. It's the great German car-biz bake-off.
Though the inside furniture is as per the 1 Series, the outside is all-new. The big-grille face, with angled-back headlight pairs, has a bit of Z4 about it. Frameless doors allow a lower roof and clean-looking apertures.
Meanwhile the side profile adopts almost all the same feature lines as the 8 Gran Coupe. But strangely, while those lines make the 8 look bony, the 2 has flabbier surfaces so the lines fade into the background. Sorry, but it just looks chubby, especially over the rear wheels.
What's the verdict?
This might be the littlest BMW four-door, but the air of plush refinement makes it feel bigger than you'd expect. Even so, it's not averse to some cheeky fun if you give it a nudge.
Trouble is the slight air of conflict. It's wanting to be a lizard-suited rake, but it's promised itself it'll be a respectable saloon. In the end of course it's neither, and ends up emanating a prissy pretentiousness.