New 2021 BMW 2 Series Coupe prototype first drive

BMW 2 Series Coupe gets styling update and four-wheel-drive M240i flagship model

  • Flagship M240i model will have a 369bhp petrol engine and four-wheel drive
  • Sits on new CLAR platform used in the 3 Series and 4 Series models
  • Reveal slated for this summer

The new BMW 2 Series Coupe has been officially teased ahead of its unveiling this summer. The brand also revealed some details of the model range, confirming that a flagship M240i model will be powered by a 369bhp six-cylinder petrol engine with four-wheel drive.

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When the new 2 Series Coupe arrives, it’ll have several two-door rivals including the Alpine A110, Audi TT and new Toyota GR86 sports car. Sales are likely to begin before the end of the year, with the car starting at around £30,000.

We’ve already driven a prototype M240i model and were left impressed by how the new car is shaping up. Read on for everything we know so far and our prototype drive review.

2021 BMW 2 Series Coupe: engines, platform and performance

While the latest BMW 1 Series has moved to front-wheel drive, using the same platform as the MINI Hatch and Clubman, the new 2 Series Coupe is based on BMW’s CLR platform, which underpins both the 3 Series and 4 Series Coupe.

BMW says the new car has improved handling thanks to an all-new body, which is 12% stiffer than the old car, and a new adaptive power steering setup. Other improvements include wider axles to help reduce body lean, and aerodynamic improvements including a flat underside, air deflectors and a new front splitter.

At the top of the range, the flagship M240i will boast the same 369bhp twin-turbocharged six-cylinder petrol engine as found in the M440i and M340i models. As with those cars, BMW’s xDrive four-wheel-drive system is fitted with an eight-speed automatic gearbox. The M240i will be capable of 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds.

Despite the move to all-wheel drive, BMW claims the xDrive system will be rear-biased to give the M240i the character of a rear-wheel-drive car. It will be capable of power slides on track too, thanks to an electronic locking differential, which also helps to improve traction on the road by distributing power to the wheels with the most grip.

Beneath the M240i in the range, the rear-wheel drive 230i model is powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine producing 242bhp. A smaller entry-level petrol model is also likely to be available, using the same 1.5-litre turbo petrol as the 118i hatchback and 218i Gran Coupe models.

There’s no word on whether the new 2 Series Coupe will be available with a diesel engine. If one is added to the range, we’d expect it to be the 2.0-litre diesel engine from the 320d and 420d Coupe.

There’ll be a new BMW M2 coupe at the top of the range, which is set to use a six-cylinder twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre petrol engine borrowed from the BMW X3 M Competition. The standard M2 is likely to have slightly less power and a manual gearbox, while the range-topping Competition model could have around 400bhp to compete with the Mercedes-AMG A 45 and the upcoming Audi RS3. The Competition version is likely to be auto-only, and will be the only version available to UK buyers.

Styling

The new 2 Series Coupe has been spied testing both on track and public roads in the past few months, and these latest official images give us the clearest look yet at the design. At the front. the trademark front ‘kidney grilles’ appear to be widened but are smaller and relatively subtle compared to the design used for the current 4 Series Coupe. The headlights appear to be a similar design to the X2 and the front bumper is also new, incorporating three large air intakes.

The bonnet appears to be longer than the old car and the car has a slightly lower roofline. The rear features flared wheel arches, giving the car a more muscular stance. A new boot lid features a small rear lip spoiler, along with new rear lights sporting a red and black two-tone finish as seen on the latest 3 Series and 4 Series Coupe models. A range of new paint colours and alloy wheels will be available, although the prototype sits on a set of 19-inch rims borrowed from the current 5 Series M Sport.

Interior and technology

The interior will almost certainly be shared with the 1 Series, so entry-level cars will get an 8.8-inch touchscreen, LED headlights and smartphone mirroring. Higher-spec models will feature a 10.25-inch screen and a digital instrument cluster of the same size; M Sport cars will get firmer suspension, larger ‘M’ branded brakes and bigger alloy wheels.

2021 BMW 2 Series Coupe M240i prototype drive by Alexander Bernt

With the latest BMW 1 Series switching to a front-wheel drive platform, purists could be forgiven for asking if the brand has forgotten its sportscars heritage. While mass-market models like the 1 Series, X1 and X2 are good to drive and cheap to run, they don’t really appeal to driving enthusiasts.

Enter the new BMW 2 Series Coupe; a car that will continue from where the previous-generation model left off as the most driver-focused of the brand’s small-car line-up.

The new 2 Series Coupe will be revealed this July and shares its underpinnings with the latest 3 Series and 4 Series models. It will be available as a purist-pleasing rear-wheel-drive 230i model, along with a flagship M240i featuring BMW’s xDrive four-wheel-drive system. Other less powerful entry-level models will also follow.

Most noticeably, the new 2 Series Coupe sports wider front and rear axles, specifically tuned suspension and a host of chassis tweaks to make it stiffer. According to BMW, these changes give the new car vastly improved grip and agility in corners. There’s also a new front end design, which incorporates a new front lip spoiler and splitter, which improve stability at speed.

During our brief drive of the M240i prototype, it was obvious after a short distance that it follows the same format as the old car. The rear-biased four-wheel-drive system is very stable during faster changes of direction, feeling more secure than the previous-gen rear-wheel-drive model. It also feels more stable as you accelerate out of a corner, with vastly improved traction thanks in part to the wider axles and new electronic M Sport rear differential distributing the power between the rear wheels.

However, the rear-wheel-drive 230i model proved to be a better demonstration of the new car’s agility. This is partly down to the lighter four-cylinder engine and lack of an all-wheel drive system, making it more agile and responsive.

Quick steering helps balance the 230i too. Even with only 242bhp, it was easily capable of precise power slides. Overall, the mid-range model impressed us most with its quick steering and agile chassis. On initial impressions at least, the smaller engine could be a strong contender for the pick of the range when sales start later this year.

Verdict

While our test was brief, it’s clear that the new BMW 2 Series Coupe will offer a fun and involving driving experience. It’s a clear step on from the old model. For enthusiasts who want a compact, fun, rear-wheel-drive coupe, the new 2 Series is going to be worth waiting for.

Read our review of the current BMW 2 Series or see how it compares to the Audi TT and Toyota GT86.

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