BMW 2 Series

Smart looking three-door coupe looks great and drives well

8.8
wowscore
This is the average score given by leading car publications from 8 reviews
  • Looks better than 1 Series
  • Fantastic handling
  • M235i is brilliant fun
  • Expensive auto gearbox
  • Limited space in rear
  • Noisy diesel engines
 

£23,040 - £33,455 Price range

 

4 Seats

 

42 - 68 MPG

Review

In a previous life, the car you see here might have been called a BMW 1 Series Coupe. But since BMW’s naming rejig all coupe and convertible variants (and curious four-door coupes, and mini-MPVs like the 2 Series Active Tourer) get even-numbered names.

That out the way, we can tell you that experts love the 2 Series. It looks better than the 1 Series hatchback, but also drives better too – a little sharper, a little more sporting. BMW hope that the 2 Series will steal sales away from the likes of the Peugeot RCZ and Audi TT.

Read on for the full verdict and check out our handy 2 Series colours and dimensions guides to learn more about the baby BMW.

Aside from the slightly squeezed rear quarters, it’s much like a regular 1 Series in here. Critics call the interior “stylish and well-built”, and while models with all-cloth seats can feel a little “cheap”, leather or Alcantara-equipped models have a desirable feel.

The driving position is spot-on, but those in the rear may be less impressed. It’s strictly a two-person-only bench, though legroom is adequate and headroom plentiful. It can be a squeeze getting to those seats though – this is strictly a two-door car.

Boot space isn’t that bad. It’s bigger than the 1 Series’ luggage area, in fact – 390 litres is 40 more than the hatch. It does lack that top-hinged tailgate though, meaning it’s only practical if you can squeeze the necessary items through the boot opening.

Here the 2 Series really scores. In transition from hatch to coupe, the 2 Series is a little stiffer than before. This applies to the suspension as much as the chassis, but BMW also says it rides better than the hatchback due to retuned dampers and bump stops.

Despite the stiffer/softer setup, it’s great on road and track. The sporting M235i particularly so, with great balance and that throttle adjustability that more enthusiastic drivers love. Don’t think the diesels are any less agile though – reviewers say they have “meaty communication” through the steering, and all are as refined on the motorway as they are fun on a twisty road.

It’s the typically wide range of BMW engine options here. The range begins with a 218d diesel and 220i petrol. On the next tier you’ll find the diesel 220d, a level above that it’s the 225d and 228i, and topping the tree is the ballistic M235i.

Aside from the six-cylinder, 3-litre M235i, all engines displace two litres and four cylinders. The petrols are smooth and brisk, and even the cheapest 220i reaches 60 mph in seven seconds.

The diesels are very frugal, all within sniffing distance of 60 mpg and many above that mark, but their downside is noise – they’re surprisingly gruff for modern diesels, and one reviewer even calls the 220d’s din “unpleasant”.

If money is no object – and you don’t need too much of it – the M235i is the one to have. It’s as cultured as it is fast, and it’s particularly speedy: 60 mph is reached in under five seconds in the automatic car. That gearbox is great, but some feel the manual suits the car better.

There are no reviews of the BMW 218d just yet, but it's sure to be a popular model in the 2 Series range, as both the cheapest and one of the most economical to boot.

Power comes from a two-litre turbocharged diesel engine. You get 143 horses and it's good for a 0-60 sprint of under nine seconds. Little to sniff at, when 63 mpg economy is on offer. VED is just £30 a year.

Stay tuned for more details, as the press get their hands on the 218d.

If you've got into your head that modern diesels are refined - particularly those from a luxury marque like BMW - then the 220d may come as a bit of a surprise.

It isn't deafening but as diesels go it's surprisingly vocal, one reviewer going as far as to call it "unpleasant". Another is kinder, suggesting it goes about its business with "noisy gusto". Luckily, "hot hatch levels of performance" go some way to redeeming it, and generally the 220d is an excellent package.

Combined economy is 58.9 mpg with the manual and 64.2 with the auto, but you do pay a pretty penny to get the automatic option. A roughly 7-second 0-60 is little to sniff at, though.

A 220i in SE trim is one of the cheaper ways into 2 Series ownership. Unfortunately, we can't tell you what the engine is like to live with, as reviewers haven't yet driven the car.

What we can tell you about is the engine's 184 PS output, the seven-second 0-60 sprint, the 146 mph top speed, and the 44.8 mpg combined economy.

The 225d fulfills the sporty-diesel role in BMW's 2 Series range. It's initially only available in M Sport trim, and nearly matches the petrol 228i on performance - 0-60 takes 6.3 seconds and on a long enough road you'll reach 150 mph.

Unfortunately, there are no reviews of the brisk diesel coupe yet, but stay tuned and we'll bring you all the details as testers get their hands on the car.

The experts haven't got their hands on the new 228i yet, but with almost 245 horsepower it's sure to get thumbs-up for its fun factor.

Available only in M Sport trim, you get a 5.4-second 0-60 time (with the standard manual gearshift) and a limited 155 mph top speed. All that from a turbocharged petrol four-cylinder - not bad at all. The engine is rated highly in other BMWs, but we'll bring you more details as the first reviews roll in.

These are general, non engine-specific reviews of the BMW 2 Series. They give you a good idea of what the car is like without going into detail on one particular engine or trim line.
Surprise surprise - most 2 Series reviews so far are for the quickest model. The 3-litre, six-cylinder turbocharged unit is already loved in the M135i, so it's even less surprising to learn reviews for the M235i are overwhelmingly positive.

First, it's fast. 0-60 in five seconds fast, or 4.8 with the auto. One reviewer describes it as a "fattening torrent of power". It's great with either the auto or the manual, and the engine delivers a "strong metallic shriek" as it punches out the power. If you've got the money, this is the 2 Series to go for.

The 2 Series hasn’t yet been tested by Euro NCAP, but given BMW’s recent safety record, it will probably score very highly when the time comes.

There are a few safety features to help you feel that little bit more secure, such as adaptive cruise control, automatic lights and a speed limit recognition system. There’s also a system which enables the car to park itself, so if you find 2 Series’ paint scraped onto your car, there really are no excuses for the driver…

Right at the top, the M235i is nearly as good value as its M135i stablemate – you’ll find little to touch its performance for a similar £34k or so.

Further down the range, good fuel economy means running costs should be relatively low, and the right models (ie the diesels) shouldn’t depreciate too badly. There’s a three-year, unlimited mileage warranty, and for an extra grand you get BMW’s five-year, 50,000-mile service plan.

Conclusion

It isn’t perfect, but find the right road and the 2 Series will reward like few other cars at its price point. That’s particularly the case for the M235i, which one reviewer says “has future classic stamped all over it”.

Noisy diesels may disappoint some, but they’re still frugal. And you still end up with a fun car, with better looks than the 1 Series and a surprisingly practical interior. There’s good evidence to suggest it’s one of BMW’s best cars right now.