BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe saloon review
"The BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe is good to drive and represents a stylish and upmarket alternative to a hatchback"
- Good to drive
- Spacious boot
- High-quality interior
- Limited model choice
- Small boot opening
- Expensive options
It appears German manufacturers aren't giving up on the saloon segment yet, because despite its 'coupe' roofline, the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe has four doors and a bootlid. Its main rivals are the Mercedes CLA and A-Class saloon, along with the Audi A3 saloon, and BMW promises a more refined and enjoyable driving experience than the one offered by the 1 Series on which the car is based.
The 2 Series GC’s looks are sure to grab attention because BMW's move to a larger kidney grille has been divisive. The nose is pure 1 Series, with a different grille design depending on the trim level you choose, while the rest of the car is somewhat more traditional. There's a curved roofline and a short 'fastback' tail with particularly wide rear LED lights, accentuating its width. A small 'ducktail' spoiler and twin exhausts ensure the car has a sporty appearance.
Inside, the layout of the BMW 1 Series has been used to good effect, with the same clear digital instrument cluster and easy-to-use central screen. Trim levels are simple; Sport has stylish 17-inch alloy wheels and LED headlights, along with convenience features like cruise control and dual-zone climate control. Above it, M Sport adds 18-inch alloys, leather upholstery and a different bodykit. The trim structure was pared back in 2023 to leave only the M Sport version on sale.
At the same time as these trim-level changes, BMW took the decision to drop the two diesel engines on offer. Which is a shame, because they were rather good. Both were turbocharged 2.0-litre units with 148bhp in the 218d and 187bhp in the 220d. The latter was particularly impressive, with a swift 0-62mph time of 7.5 seconds and an average fuel return of up to 56mpg. The 218d came with a six-speed manual gearbox, which the 220d had an eight-speed automatic.
That left just three petrol engines in the range. The entry-level petrol 218i is fitted with a 136bhp 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo and a manual gearbox, getting the Gran Coupe to 62mph in just over nine seconds. The 220i has a 2.0-litre unit giving 176bhp, plus a standard automatic gearbox, a combination that delivers 0-62mph in 7.1 seconds. All the versions mentioned up to this point come with front-wheel drive.
For a much more high-octane experience, the M235i xDrive Gran Coupe is also offered, with 302bhp and four-wheel drive catapulting it from a standing start to 62mph in a Mercedes-AMG CLA 35-rivalling 4.9 seconds.
MPG, running costs & CO2
The petrol range kicks off with the 218i, fitted with a 1.5-litre engine that’s capable of returning up to 49mpg with CO2 emissions from 133g/km. This compares to 46mpg for the Mercedes CLA 180, while both sit in a middling BiK band for company-car drivers. Specifying the 2.0-litre four-cylinder 220i will see your fuel economy drop to 46mpg according to official WLTP figures.
Opt for the high-performance M235i xDrive, with twice the power of the 218i, and fuel-efficiency drops to 39mpg, with CO2 emissions of just over 162g/km. Not surprising, really.
The now-defunct diesels both had 2.0-litre four-cylinder engines, managing up to 62.8mpg with CO2 emissions of 119g/km for the 218d Sport trim. These figures dropped to 55.4mpg and 132g/km for the 220d M Sport.
Engines, drive & performance
Just like the Mercedes CLA that's based on the A-Class hatchback, the 2 Series Gran Coupe shares its underpinnings and most of its parts with the BMW 1 Series hatch. To help separate the two, BMW has softened the suspension settings for the Gran Coupe somewhat, in a bid to improve comfort.
And it’s been largely successful, because the Gran Coupe does smooth out bumpy roads that would jostle the hatch, and yet the suspension still manages to avoid feeling wallowy. Impressively, BMW also seems to have given the steering a touch more feel, and the 2 Series Gran Coupe feels impressively balanced in corners. If you weren't aware, it would be hard to tell power was sent to just the front wheels, such is the car’s composure. The brakes don't disappoint, either, with good feel and lots of stopping power.
The 218i is fitted with a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo (related to the engine found in a MINI Cooper Hatch) making 134bhp. It takes 9.2 seconds to get from rest to 62mph, and a manual gearbox is standard. A more powerful 220i petrol is also offered, with 176bhp giving it a 0-62mph acceleration time of 7.1 seconds.
The M235i xDrive Gran Coupe is an entirely different proposition, with a 2.0-litre petrol and large turbo serving up 302bhp. Aided by the traction of its four-wheel-drive system, 0-62mph flashes up in 4.9 seconds, matching the Mercedes-AMG CLA 35.
Interior & comfort
The interior is almost a carbon-copy of the 1 Series', which is no bad thing. The TFT instrument display is crisp and BMW's iDrive user interface is intuitive, and the dashboard is more driver-focused than in the CLA. Quality is up there with the best cars in the class, and with Dakota leather seats coming as standard with M Sport trim, it feels especially premium.
The previous 'entry-level' trim, known as Sport, came with an 8.8-inch central screen, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, LED headlights, all-round parking sensors, sports seats and 17-inch alloy wheels. Upgrade to M Sport earned you a 10.25-inch screen, along with the aforementioned leather upholstery, ambient lighting, and anthracite headlining, heated seats and M Sport steering wheel. As of 2023, M Sport became the only trim level offered.
As you'd expect, there are also plenty of options to boost convenience and personalise the Gran Coupe, if you so desire. A £1,500 Technology Pack adds adaptive LED headlights, autonomous parking, a head-up display and a wireless charging pad for smartphones. There's also two levels of BMW's Comfort Pack offering LED exterior lighting, heated front seats and 'anti-dazzle' mirrors. The next level adds a heated steering wheel, electric seat adjustment and unlocking via your smartphone.
Practicality & boot space
While saloons have steadily fallen in popularity, there's been a surge in the four-door coupes offered by manufacturers of late. One reason to pick the 2 Series Gran Coupe over the 1 Series could well be space, because boot space is improved over the hatchback. There's 430 litres of space, soundly beating the 380 litres of the five-door and just 50 litres off the size of the BMW 3 Series. The CLA is even bigger, though, beating the Gran Coupe by 30 litres, and for some, the 1 Series will still be more usable because of its taller hatchback.
The 2 Series Gran Coupe’s practicality is boosted further by 40:20:40 rear seats. Rear legroom in the Gran Coupe is pretty good, too; two six-foot tall adults can comfortably sit in tandem.
Reliability & safety
The 2 Series Gran Coupe is based on a relatively new platform, so the jury is still out on reliability. BMW as a brand has been performing below expectations recently, coming just 27th out of 30 manufacturers in our 2020 Driver Power satisfaction survey.
Just over 20% of respondents told us their car had one or more faults in the first year, while running costs and servicing bills were reportedly high. Owners praised the build quality, acceleration and infotainment of their BMW models.
Safety is less up for debate, because the closely related 2 Series Gran Coupe achieved a full five-star rating from Euro NCAP in 2019. It posted identical scores to the 1 Series in three of the four areas of assessment, not surprising when the two cars are so mechanically similar. Those scores were 87% in the Child Occupant safety category, 76% in the 'Vulnerable Road Users' section that assesses the safety of cyclists and pedestrians, and 72% in the Safety Assist category. However, the 2 Series beat its stablemate in the Adult Occupant pretection stakes psoting a score of 94% compared to the 1 Series’ 83%.