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2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe first drive review: Hero or heretic?

10 min read

Like any excellent subculture, the automotive entire world is rife with fans who obsess and quibble above the smallest specifics. We vehicle buffs can complain and whine with the greatest of ’em, splitting hairs of hairs. As this sort of, it really is tempting to think the burbling fervor about the 2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe is another tempest in a teapot. Just after all, it really is just a vehicle, and folks are only conversing about which wheels get energy to the floor. Truly, in the circumstance of this 2020 BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupe, it really is even a lot more pedantic than that — they’re conversing about which wheels get most of the energy and when. Dropped yet? Make it possible for me to make clear.

For most of its history, BMW has cultivated a cult-like devotion between driving fans via an enviable string of efficiency-oriented designs. Automobiles this sort of as the three Series and its larger-efficiency M3 offshoot have come to be icons by delivering decades of enviable dynamics with engaging interfaces that have saved driving satisfaction at the coronary heart of their mission. 

In current a long time, that grand tradition has appear beneath fireplace. BMW has adopted sector currents, its model lineup more and more trending towards sport utility automobiles and smothering a lot of of its models’ tactile charms beneath an ever-thickening blanket of luxury, protection and performance features, prioritizing comfort, stability and ecological duty at the costly of sharpness. Offered regulatory and societal pressures, in addition the gross sales payoff, it really is tough to blame the organization for that.

Even so, the vehicle witnessed below, the 2 Series Gran Coupe, is being considered as a revolutionary — and controversial — pivot stage for the manufacturer. This is the vehicular second the organization transitions 1 of its sedans from a rear-wheel-generate-centered architecture to a front-wheel-generate 1. (Certainly, BMW did this earlier with the X1, but that’s an SUV — sedans, coupes and hatches are nevertheless nearer to this brand’s emotional heart.)

In a way, BMW North America would seem to be hedging its bets, acknowledging the sensitivity of this second. In this article in the US and Canada, BMW will in the beginning only provide this new 2 Series Gran Coupe with xDrive all-wheel generate, while the the vast majority of the time, the system will favor driving the front wheels, periodically disconnecting the driveshaft to the rear wheels when more traction is just not identified as for, as is typical in regular-point out freeway cruising.

BMW will market this 4-doorway together with the rear-generate 2 Series Coupe and Convertible designs.


The query is, is this FWD/RWD deal a little something essential only to the foolish and overscrupulous, or does this transform essentially affect what this vehicle is and how it feels? I headed to the winding, mountainous roads of Portugal to get a handful of wheel and come across out. 

(Facet take note: Ahead of I go any even more, it really is worth mentioning I do not commonly get scrunchy-confronted above this sort of points, and I depend front-, rear- and all-wheel-generate cars in my personalized steady.)

Which-wheel generate?

So, how did we get below? Perfectly, a handful of a long time in the past, the German automaker designed the UKL2 system, a adaptable architecture that has absent on to underpin a lot of smaller BMW relatives designs, which include the X1 crossover, the Mini Countryman as perfectly as the not-for-North-America 1 Series. In distinction to the rear-wheel-generate-centered 2 Series Coupe and Convertible, designs that rather confusingly will nevertheless be offered together with this 1, the UKL2 chassis of this Gran Coupe permits improved cabin packaging, a lot more cargo space and lower costs, all hallmarks of a FWD structure. That signifies this Gran Coupe must also match up nicely versus rivals like the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz A-Course and CLA-Course, all of which share the exact sort of architecture and driveline.

In the circumstance of this assortment-topping M235i xDrive, its 2.-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine’s 301 horsepower and 332 pound-toes of torque examine favorably with the Audi S3 (288 hp, 280 lb-ft) and substantially out-torques the Mercedes-AMG A35 and CLA35, both of which provide 302 hp and 295 lb-ft. An 8-speed computerized with paddle shifters is standard, as is a Torsen restricted-slip differential and launch management, the latter of which assists help a factory-estimated -to-60-mph time of 4.6 seconds, en route to an electronically restricted top speed of one hundred fifty five mph. Despite its torque benefit, the M235i’s efficiency quantities are effectively identical to these of its German rivals, with a tenth of a second separating all players to 60 mph and identically ruled top speeds.

By the splashy headline efficiency quantities, then, the M235i xDrive and its rivals are a lifeless warmth. Picking amongst them is likely to appear down to rate — $forty five,five hundred in addition shipping — or to values that are a lot more subjective and a lot less details-driven: Styling, features, driving come to feel and manufacturer image.

The M235i has an aggressively unsubtle visage. What do you believe?


Divisive looks

Styling is likely to be a variable below. Audi’s S3 has crisp, conventional sedan bodywork that’s growing older perfectly, albeit while drawing comparatively couple of eyeballs. Mercedes’ lozenge-like 4-doors veer towards the a lot more slipstream and voguish — they’re awareness getters. This 2 Series? It arguably splits the change. As its Gran Coupe designator implies, BMW has attempted to imbue this vehicle with sleeker bodywork, making use of frameless doors to aid help a lower roofline, as perfectly as a lot more steeply raked front and rear glass to give the vehicle a coupe-like come to feel. 

In the steel, while, this design and style is significantly a lot less elegantly proportioned than BMW’s other Gran Coupe designs, all of which enjoy a selected long-legged, sharply customized existence. Blame the 2GC’s abbreviated 178.five-inch in general size and its a hundred and five.1-inch wheelbase, but most of all, blame this car’s limited sprint-to-axle ratio — the length from the foundation of the windshield to the front wheels — for its a lot less swish, a lot more ordinary looks.

Talking of a lot less swish, the 2 Series’ new confront is likely to split views. BMW has steadily been morphing its trademark twin-kidney grill into a little something both broader and shorter in general, and in this circumstance, the resulting aesthetic is a lot more showy and overdone than refined. Amongst that and the (mercifully functional) outsized air intakes bookending the front bumper, the emphasis would seem to be on the pugnacious and eye-catching rather of the handsome and enduring. That mentioned, the M235i looks appropriately planted on its 18-inch double-spoke M alloys and 225/forty Pirelli P-Zero tires, inch-bigger rubber than the a lot more modest 228i xDrive Gran Coupe that we have yet to examination in production type. (19-inch units are optional with both all-period operate-flat or efficiency non-operate-flats.)

The cabin is accessible with a wide assortment of tech features, which include a fully electronic gauge cluster and WiFi.


Cabin tech

If the 2 Series Gran Coupe’s exterior is divisive, its interior must deliver factions alongside one another. Its furnishings and basic aesthetic will be common to anybody who has been in a fashionable BMW passenger vehicle, and that’s a excellent factor. Even my Alpine White tester’s primary black cabin looks handsome and perfectly organized, matching its purposeful, driver-oriented aura with adequate creature comforts to continue to keep just about anybody content material. For the a lot more efficiency-oriented M235i, interior fitments contain a grippy M Sport steering wheel (BMW has often produced wheels much too thick in diameter, but not below), steel pedal pads and optional energy-articulated M Sport seats ($750).

In phrases of cabin tech, while lesser 2GCs appear fitted with a BMW Live Cockpit set up running iDrive 6 via an 8.8-inch show, my tester has the BMW Live Cockpit Professional, which goes a action even more by replacing the car’s analog gauges with a 10.twenty five-inch in-cluster show running iDrive 7. The perfectly-organized system consists of developed-in navigation and Apple CarPlay, with BMW mercifully scrapping its program to charge an once-a-year membership price for the latter just after the initial 12 months. In a lot less-terrific information, Android Auto integration continues to be a “coming soon” attraction.

My examination vehicle is also fitted with BMW’s Gesture Regulate, tech that allows you to wave your hand again and forth or twirl your finger in the air to execute choose infotainment functions, which include dismissing a telephone simply call or cranking up the volume on the $875 sixteen-speaker, 464-watt Harman Kardon audio system. Regrettably, while this $190 social gathering trick might impress in the limited time period, I have discovered it really is likely to annoy above the long haul due to serial unintended activation. If you have a tendency to communicate with your hands, you may well want to give this solution the middle finger.

Obtainable tech features that are a lot more universally appreciated contain a full-colour, multifunction, 9.2-inch head-up show as perfectly as a wireless charging and Wi-Fi hotspot bundle ($five hundred).

It is worth noting that rear-seat packaging, while nevertheless on the limited facet, is significantly improved than that of the 2GC’s Mercedes rivals. Ingress and egress is somewhat hard owing to the limited rear doors, but both accessibility and area are significantly improved than in the 2 Series Coupe.

The M235i can absolutely handle perfectly, and there is certainly a great deal of energy, there is certainly just not substantially driver engagement.


Push time

Portugal has long been a favorite new-model launch spot for European automakers on account of its temperate temperature, twisty roads and basic affordability. I have been fortuitous adequate to generate on the roads outside the house of the country’s capital town of Lisbon a lot of times, and it really is often a address. For this examination day, BMW eschewed any keep track of time, rather concentrating on the area’s superb general public street network, stringing alongside one another a route that incorporated a lot of limited, winding sections that threaded alongside one another picturesque minimal cities. I have driven a lot more demanding routes in the area, but this route was perfectly picked to highlight the M235i’s smaller dimensions and completely ready energy and grip coming out of limited corners.

In its transfer to electrical energy steering and weighty combine of operate-flat tires, BMW has struggled a lot more than most upscale automakers to deliver excellent steering come to feel, and this new 2GC sadly reads from that exact script. Steering is quick, correct and pleasingly weighted, but in the long run numb. On the in addition facet, experience quality in my examination vehicle geared up with driver-selectable Dynamic Damper Regulate ($five hundred) is perfectly judged, and street sound isolation is similarly well managed on the region’s smooth but often coarse-grained roads. Braking come to feel is organization and quickly modulated.

When flogging the M235i on a hard street, the in general impression is of self-assurance matched with capacity, but not adequate emotion. A excellent part of that is likely attributable to this car’s FWD-centered underpinnings — the differential are unable to send a lot more than 50% of the engine’s energy rearward, so if you’re hoping to use the throttle to steer the vehicle, perfectly, rough noogies. As it is, this model reminds a little bit of the Volkswagen Golfing R, an AWD vehicle that presents shocking sophistication, ability and speed, yet is in the long run a sport compact unwilling to permit its hair down.

iDrive is genuinely fairly excellent these times. Variation 6. comes standard, with v7. accessible as portion of an solution pack which include a full electronic cluster.


It is much too early to identify no matter whether this 2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe will be branded as a heretic or a hero by new-vehicle potential buyers. I suspect it will slide somewhere in amongst, irking a handful of self-anointed purists while failing to ignite ample enthusiasm 1 way or the other between the the vast majority.

If you’ve got been seeking a smaller, entry-level BMW but want a lot more passenger and cargo adaptability than the two-doorway BMW 2 Series Coupe and Convertible provide, the Gran Coupe could extremely perfectly have your range. On the other hand, while extremely capable, even in top-spec M235i type, the 2GC struggles to be as worthwhile to generate tough as the slower, cheaper 230i Coupe, or even the bigger three Series sedan, a model that’s both bigger and a lot less costly.

For now, BMW officials insist the organization continues to be dedicated to rear-generate 2 Series designs as perfectly as these new types, but with declining sedan gross sales, I would not guess on this equitable stasis lasting for long. The Gran Coupe’s a lot more practical 4-doorway shape and more recent tech will most likely make it an less complicated market to a lot more potential buyers, even if it is just not as pleasurable to generate.

The 2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe comes in US sellers in March.


Editors’ take note: Travel costs relevant to this story were being lined by the maker, which is frequent in the automobile sector. The judgments and views of Roadshow’s staff members are our personal and we do not take paid out editorial content material.

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