BMW 2 Series coupe
“The BMW 2 Series Coupe is stylish and great to drive, yet its running costs are also quite reasonable”
- Powerful and economical engines
- Stylish exterior design
- Good fun to drive
- Tight rear headroom
- Options are expensive
- Diesels not as refined as some rivals
You might recall the predecessor to the BMW 2 Series was called the BMW 1 Series Coupe, but a shake-up of BMW’s model naming resulted in a new model, available as a two-door Coupe, Convertible or searing BMW M2 Competition.
Along with its new name, the 2 Series also looks significantly different to the previous-generation 1 Series this time around, despite the pair sharing a lot of parts. It’s significantly lower – to the extent you feel closer to the ground inside – and has svelte styling. To some eyes, its compact shape might even be more appealing than the larger BMW 4 Series Coupe. BMW facelifted the 2 Series in 2017, fitting new air intakes, a larger radiator grille and LED lights as standard. While the engine range remains unchanged, there's now more tech - such as wireless Apple CarPlay - on offer, too.
The choice of engines is impressive, with two diesels offering 148 or 187bhp and three petrols providing 134, 182 or 335bhp (the latter in the M240i). That’s plenty of choice as far as performance goes and this doesn’t even include the M2 performance model, which we’ve reviewed separately. You can also choose between manual or automatic gearboxes, and the popular 220d even comes with BMW's optional xDrive four-wheel drive. Fuel efficiency was also given a boost for 2018, with all diesel engines gaining AdBlue emissions-reducing technology that should also reduce costs for company-car drivers.
For keen drivers, the M240i is by far the most enticing model in the standard 2 Series range, with its six-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine propelling it from 0-62mph in 4.6 seconds and on to a top speed of 155mph. It’s a shame BMW dropped the option of a manual gearbox when the M240i was facelifted but it still sends all its power to the rear wheels, leaving the front wheels to steer with real precision. The M240i is the one to go for if you want rear-wheel drive, as the new 302bhp BMW M135i hatchback is all-wheel drive for the first time.
Even in more humble specifications, this setup and excellent balance give the 2 Series the edge over most rivals like the Audi TT and Mercedes CLA, with only the rear-wheel-drive Toyota GT86 and Subaru BRZ offering similar thrills. It really does take the pedigree of a Porsche 718 Cayman to outshine the BMW, yet that model costs quite a lot more than the M240i even in its most basic form.
Of course, the 2 Series should be easier to live with than the Cayman, with rear seats and a larger boot, even if the four-door Mercedes CLA is on another level again for practicality.
If you’ve sat in any recent BMW, the 2 Series will be quite familiar: it’s ergonomically laid-out and the driving position adds to its sporting feel. A highlight is the iDrive infotainment system, which is easy to use thanks to a control wheel mounted on the centre console.
Trim levels include SE, Sport and M Sport, while the M240i gets its own unique kit. Even the SE model is impressively specified, with 17-inch alloy wheels, sat nav, climate control, rear parking sensors and Bluetooth. Facelifted cars even get LED headlights as standard, along with ‘remote services’ allowing you to check on your car using a smartphone app.
Euro NCAP hasn’t crash-tested the 2 Series yet, possibly because it shares so much of its underpinnings and technology with the last 1 Series, which already received the full five-star rating in 2012.
In our 2018 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey the 2 Series came 50th out of 75 models. It doesn't rank in our list in 2020, because of a lack of available data.
Appealing to both the emotional and pragmatic sides of car ownership, there’s no doubting the BMW 2 Series is a serious contender if you’re looking for a small coupe.