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

Like any good subculture, the automotive entire world is rife with fans who obsess and quibble about the smallest information. We car buffs can bitch and whine with the best of ’em, splitting hairs of hairs. As this kind of, it’s tempting to assume the burbling fervor all around the 2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe is one more tempest in a teapot. Just after all, it’s just a car, and individuals are only talking about which wheels get electric power to the ground. In fact, in the circumstance of this 2020 BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupe, it’s even a lot more pedantic than that — they are talking about which wheels get most of the electric power and when. Shed but? Permit me to clarify.

For most of its background, BMW has cultivated a cult-like devotion between driving fans by an enviable string of efficiency-oriented types. Autos this kind of as the 3 Series and its higher-efficiency M3 offshoot have turn into icons by offering many years of enviable dynamics with engaging interfaces that have held driving pleasure at the heart of their mission. 

In current yrs, that grand tradition has arrive less than fireplace. BMW has adopted marketplace currents, its product lineup significantly trending toward activity utility motor vehicles and smothering several of its models’ tactile charms less than an ever-thickening blanket of luxury, basic safety and effectiveness options, prioritizing convenience, security and ecological responsibility at the expensive of sharpness. Offered regulatory and societal pressures, furthermore the sales payoff, it’s challenging to blame the enterprise for that.

Even so, the car viewed here, the 2 Series Gran Coupe, is staying considered as a revolutionary — and controversial — pivot issue for the brand. This is the vehicular instant the enterprise transitions 1 of its sedans from a rear-wheel-push-based architecture to a entrance-wheel-push 1. (Yes, BMW did this beforehand with the X1, but that’s an SUV — sedans, coupes and hatches are nonetheless nearer to this brand’s psychological heart.)

In a way, BMW North The united states looks to be hedging its bets, acknowledging the sensitivity of this instant. Listed here in the US and Canada, BMW will to begin with only give this new 2 Series Gran Coupe with xDrive all-wheel push, although the greater part of the time, the technique will favor driving the entrance wheels, periodically disconnecting the driveshaft to the rear wheels when extra traction is not termed for, as is standard in regular-condition freeway cruising.

BMW will offer this four-doorway together with the rear-push 2 Series Coupe and Convertible types.


The dilemma is, is this FWD/RWD deal a little something crucial only to the silly and overscrupulous, or does this change fundamentally have an impact on what this car is and how it feels? I headed to the winding, mountainous streets of Portugal to grab a handful of wheel and come across out. 

(Aspect be aware: Ahead of I go any even more, it’s really worth mentioning I do not generally get scrunchy-confronted about this kind of factors, and I depend entrance-, rear- and all-wheel-push vehicles in my personal stable.)

Which-wheel push?

So, how did we get here? Effectively, a handful of yrs ago, the German automaker produced the UKL2 platform, a flexible architecture that has gone on to underpin several compact BMW family members types, which include the X1 crossover, the Mini Countryman as nicely as the not-for-North-The united states one Series. In contrast to the rear-wheel-push-based 2 Series Coupe and Convertible, types that rather confusingly will nonetheless be offered together with this 1, the UKL2 chassis of this Gran Coupe permits far better cabin packaging, a lot more cargo home and lessen expenditures, all hallmarks of a FWD format. That implies this Gran Coupe should really also match up properly versus rivals like the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz A-Class and CLA-Class, all of which share the very same variety of architecture and driveline.

In the circumstance of this variety-topping M235i xDrive, its 2.-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine’s 301 horsepower and 332 pound-ft of torque assess favorably with the Audi S3 (288 hp, 280 lb-ft) and significantly out-torques the Mercedes-AMG A35 and CLA35, both of those of which give 302 hp and 295 lb-ft. An 8-velocity computerized with paddle shifters is normal, as is a Torsen minimal-slip differential and launch command, the latter of which can help allow a factory-approximated -to-sixty-mph time of four.6 seconds, en route to an electronically minimal leading velocity of 155 mph. Even with its torque advantage, the M235i’s efficiency numbers are basically equivalent to individuals of its German rivals, with a tenth of a second separating all gamers to sixty mph and identically ruled leading speeds.

By the splashy headline efficiency numbers, then, the M235i xDrive and its rivals are a lifeless warmth. Selecting involving them is likely to arrive down to value — $forty five,500 furthermore shipping — or to values that are a lot more subjective and a lot less info-driven: Styling, options, driving come to feel and brand graphic.

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


Divisive seems

Styling is likely to be a variable here. Audi’s S3 has crisp, conventional sedan bodywork that’s ageing nicely, albeit even though drawing rather several eyeballs. Mercedes’ lozenge-like four-doors veer to the a lot more slipstream and voguish — they are awareness getters. This 2 Series? It arguably splits the variation. As its Gran Coupe designator implies, BMW has attempted to imbue this car with sleeker bodywork, applying frameless doors to enable allow a lessen roofline, as nicely as a lot more steeply raked entrance and rear glass to give the car a coupe-like come to feel. 

In the steel, although, this structure is significantly a lot less elegantly proportioned than BMW’s other Gran Coupe types, all of which get pleasure from a specific extensive-legged, sharply tailored presence. Blame the 2GC’s abbreviated 178.5-inch general size and its one zero five.one-inch wheelbase, but most of all, blame this car’s shorter dash-to-axle ratio — the length from the base of the windshield to the entrance wheels — for its a lot less graceful, a lot more ordinary seems.

Speaking of a lot less graceful, the 2 Series’ new confront is likely to split opinions. BMW has steadily been morphing its trademark twin-kidney grill into a little something both of those broader and shorter general, and in this circumstance, the ensuing aesthetic is a lot more showy and overdone than refined. Amongst that and the (mercifully practical) oversized air intakes bookending the entrance bumper, the emphasis looks to be on the pugnacious and eye-catching as a substitute of the handsome and enduring. That mentioned, the M235i seems adequately planted on its 18-inch double-spoke M alloys and 225/forty Pirelli P-Zero tires, inch-much larger rubber than the a lot more modest 228i xDrive Gran Coupe that we have but to exam in generation type. (19-inch models are optional with both all-time run-flat or efficiency non-run-flats.)

The cabin is offered with a extensive variety of tech options, which include a completely digital gauge cluster and WiFi.


Cabin tech

If the 2 Series Gran Coupe’s exterior is divisive, its inside should really convey factions together. Its furnishings and basic aesthetic will be common to any one who has been in a modern day BMW passenger car, and that’s a good point. Even my Alpine White tester’s standard black cabin seems handsome and nicely organized, matching its purposeful, driver-oriented aura with plenty of creature comforts to continue to keep just about any one content. For the a lot more efficiency-oriented M235i, inside fitments contain a grippy M Sport steering wheel (BMW has at times made wheels also thick in diameter, but not here), steel pedal pads and optional electric power-articulated M Sport seats ($750).

In conditions of cabin tech, even though lesser 2GCs arrive fitted with a BMW Live Cockpit setup jogging iDrive 6 by an eight.eight-inch screen, my tester has the BMW Live Cockpit Experienced, which goes a stage even more by changing the car’s analog gauges with a ten.twenty five-inch in-cluster screen jogging iDrive 7. The nicely-organized technique features developed-in navigation and Apple CarPlay, with BMW mercifully scrapping its system to demand an annual subscription level for the latter right after the first calendar year. In a lot less-wonderful news, Android Automobile integration remains a “coming quickly” attraction.

My exam car is also fitted with BMW’s Gesture Management, tech that will allow you to wave your hand back again and forth or twirl your finger in the air to execute find infotainment capabilities, which include dismissing a phone get in touch with or cranking up the quantity on the $875 16-speaker, 464-watt Harman Kardon audio technique. Unfortunately, even though this $one hundred ninety get together trick may possibly impress in the shorter phrase, I’ve identified it’s likely to annoy about the extensive haul owing to serial unintended activation. If you are inclined to chat with your arms, you may possibly want to give this option the middle finger.

Accessible tech options that are a lot more universally appreciated contain a total-coloration, multifunction, 9.2-inch head-up screen as nicely as a wireless charging and Wi-Fi hotspot bundle ($500).

It truly is really worth noting that rear-seat packaging, even though nonetheless on the restricted aspect, is significantly far better than that of the 2GC’s Mercedes rivals. Ingress and egress is rather challenging owing to the shorter rear doors, but both of those obtain and house are significantly far better than in the 2 Series Coupe.

The M235i can certainly deal with nicely, and there is a lot of electric power, there is just not considerably driver engagement.


Drive time

Portugal has extensive been a favourite new-product launch place for European automakers on account of its temperate weather, twisty streets and basic affordability. I’ve been fortunate plenty of to push on the streets outside of the country’s money metropolis of Lisbon several occasions, and it’s usually a deal with. For this exam working day, BMW eschewed any track time, as a substitute focusing on the area’s excellent general public highway network, stringing together a route that involved many restricted, winding sections that threaded together picturesque very little cities. I’ve driven a lot more demanding routes in the location, but this route was nicely preferred to spotlight the M235i’s compact proportions and all set electric power and grip coming out of restricted corners.

In its shift to electrical electric power steering and hefty mix of run-flat tires, BMW has struggled a lot more than most upscale automakers to supply good steering come to feel, and this new 2GC sadly reads from that very same script. Steering is speedy, accurate and pleasingly weighted, but eventually numb. On the furthermore aspect, experience top quality in my exam car geared up with driver-selectable Dynamic Damper Management ($500) is nicely judged, and highway sound isolation is equally smartly managed on the region’s sleek but at times coarse-grained streets. Braking come to feel is business and simply modulated.

When flogging the M235i on a challenging highway, the general perception is of self esteem matched with skill, but not plenty of emotion. A good part of that is likely attributable to this car’s FWD-based underpinnings — the differential cannot deliver a lot more than 50% of the engine’s electric power rearward, so if you might be hoping to use the throttle to steer the car, nicely, difficult noogies. As it is, this product reminds a little bit of the Volkswagen Golf R, an AWD car that provides stunning sophistication, capability and velocity, but is eventually a activity compact unwilling to allow its hair down.

iDrive is seriously fairly good these days. Edition 6. comes normal, with v7. offered as part of an option pack which include a total digital cluster.


It truly is also early to identify no matter whether this 2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe will be branded as a heretic or a hero by new-car buyers. I suspect it’ll slide someplace in involving, irking a handful of self-anointed purists even though failing to ignite ample passion 1 way or the other between the greater part.

If you’ve got been looking for a compact, entry-amount BMW but will need a lot more passenger and cargo versatility than the two-doorway BMW 2 Series Coupe and Convertible give, the Gran Coupe could really nicely have your number. On the other hand, even though really able, even in leading-spec M235i type, the 2GC struggles to be as rewarding to push challenging as the slower, more cost-effective 230i Coupe, or even the much larger 3 Series sedan, a product that’s both of those much larger and a lot less expensive.

For now, BMW officials insist the enterprise remains committed to rear-push 2 Series types as nicely as these new kinds, but with declining sedan sales, I wouldn’t bet on this equitable stasis lasting for extensive. The Gran Coupe’s a lot more simple four-doorway shape and more recent tech will likely make it an less complicated offer to a lot more buyers, even if it is not as entertaining to push.

The 2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe arrives in US dealers in March.


Editors’ be aware: Travel expenditures linked to this tale had been protected by the producer, which is frequent in the automobile marketplace. The judgments and opinions of Roadshow’s workers are our have and we do not settle for compensated editorial content.