The BMW 2 Series is a fun and stylish alternative to the likes of many compact saloons and hatchbacks but plenty of alternatives come with roomier cabins and more tempting tech
The BMW 2 Series is a stylish and sporty alternative to the likes of the Audi A3 saloon and the Mercedes A-Class hatchback. It’s good fun to drive, comes with a range of engines to suit most budgets and gets a relatively practical, well-built interior.
It certainly doesn’t look quite as eye-catching as the Audi TT’s cabin, but the BMW 2 Series’ interior is sensibly laid out and everything’s easy to use. The iDrive infotainment system is a doddle to use, too, and comes with satellite navigation as standard. It’s not a patch on the slick dual-screen display you can get in the Mercedes A-Class, but the scroll-wheel controller is more intuitive to use when you’re driving.
Less easy to use is the BMW 2 Series’ manual seat adjustment. There’s plenty of head and legroom for you to get comfortable if you’re very tall, but finding your ideal seating position takes a great deal of lever-pulling.
Space in the back isn’t particularly generous, either. Unlike the Audi A3 saloon, the BMW 2 Series only has two doors so your passengers have to squeeze through a rather narrow gap behind the front seats. Headroom is tight for anyone six-foot tall, but there’s a decent amount of legroom and two kids will have plenty of space to stretch out.
In terms of boot space, the BMW 2 Series’ 390-litre capacity lags behind the Audi A3 saloon but it can carry more than the Audi TT and the Mercedes A-Class. The opening’s not particularly wide, however, but there’s still space for a few large suitcases. Need to carry larger items? You can pay extra to get back seats that fold down.
Because the BMW 2 Series only comes with front doors, your arthritic grandmother probably won’t appreciate being asked to climb into the rather tight back seats…
You get seven engines to choose from in the BMW 2 Series – from the 218i petrol (that’s ideally suited to pottering around town) to a rip-roaring six-cylinder M240i petrol model that accelerates from 0-62mph in just 4.8 seconds. The best all-rounder – especially if you do lots of long journeys – is the four-cylinder 220d diesel. It’s as fast as some hot-hatches yet BMW claims it’ll return more than 60mpg.
Whichever engine you pick, you won’t hear too much wind or tyre noise in the BMW 2 Series at motorway speeds and the standard suspension does a good job ironing out bumps and potholes. It’s so smooth, in fact, that you should only consider paying extra for the upgraded adaptive suspension if you also plan to fork out for the optional 19-inch alloy wheels.
Stick to a more modest set of 17- or 18-inch wheels and the BMW 2 Series strikes an excellent balance between being comfortable and good fun to drive. Its direct steering and responsive handling will put a much bigger smile on your face on a winding country road than the Audi A3 saloon or Mercedes A-Class. Like the Audi, you can get the 2 Series with four-wheel drive (called xDrive) for a little extra grip in slippery conditions.
Unfortunately, you don’t get a great deal of driver assistance systems in the BMW 2 Series, but at least it’s based on the five-star rated 1 Series, so should offer decent protection in the event of a crash. It’s worth bearing in mind, though, that the BMW 1 Series earned this score back in 2012 and the testing procedure has been made much stricter since then.
That being said, if you’re looking for a comfortable compact coupe that’s very good fun to drive and relatively cheap to run, the BMW 2 Series makes a very good choice indeed.