BMW 2-series

BMW 2-series
New 2-series may look like just another derivative in BMW’s increasingly expanding range, but in reality it’s created a thoroughly exciting and engaging coupé

Thanks to the splendiferousness of the M235i, BMW has already succeeded in lodging the new 2-series well and truly high up in our performance coupé reckoning. Now, though, with the choice cut out of the way, it’s the turn of the all-important range filler to impress.As it does practically everywhere else in BMW’s line-up, the 2.0-litre diesel-engined 220d driven here will make up the bulk of the sales, and lock horns with all the other economy-minded three-door, four-seat compact options – including the Audi TT, Peugeot RCZ and Volkswagen Scirocco.Given the competition, it’s worth mentioning from the outset that the new model is not endowed with particularly striking looks. It continues in the recognisable form of its predecessor, the 1-series coupé, with a scaled down take on BMW’s typically high-shouldered, low glasshouse and short overhung profile – and is 11cm longer than the current 1-series – but, on standard 17-inch wheels, it manages to be staidly dignified rather than go-getter handsome.Inside, it’s a direct carryover from the hatchback, making it snugly superior to most rivals and perhaps a little more generous in the back than some (BMW claims 21mm of extra legroom over the last coupé) although that won’t comfort either the knees or brow of taller passengers.Ultimately, there will be six engines to choose from – three diesel, three petrol – all familiar from elsewhere in BMW’s range. The 220d offers a four-cylinder motor that churns out 181bhp with noisy gusto, delivering 58.9mpg and 0-62mph in 7.2 seconds in its new setting, twinned to a standard six-speed manual.We’re accustomed to those figures standing out, but here they are merely the backdrop to the 2-series’ wonderfully composed and capable chassis. The possibility that driving a 220d in the wake of an M235i would be disappointing or underwhelming is immediately nixed; in fact, many of the same accolades remain in place.The car’s sense of balance (50/50 distribution, of course), its meaty communication of front-end grip and backside adjustability, not to mention the unfettered clarity of simply feeling rear-driven at all speeds (unlike the 1-series) all effortlessly register.The body control obviously isn’t quite as honed, but its replaced with a rolling civility quite beyond its rivals – the standard drive performance control and optional adaptive dampers priming it for a B road just as neatly as it pacifies a motorway.Perhaps even more so than the M235i, it feels like a recognisably condensed 3-series; and not in a smaller, more limited way, but as an intimate, nimble package deliberately stripped of any extraneousness.If that sounds enticing, it is – however, BMW certainly hasn’t lost sight of the reason for all this clever range differentiation. There’s no entry-level ES grade anymore, meaning entry into the 2-series range kicks off at £24,265 for a 218d SE.The bump from a new three-door 120d SE to our test car’s starting price is almost £2500 – a sum weighty enough to provoke pause in some. But not us. The 2-series is even less like an expensive 1-series than its forerunner was.BMW hasn’t just bolted on a nameplate here, it’s perfected a proper coupé.

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