BMW Goes Economy: The 2 Series Gran Coupe Is Not Your Dentist's Bimmer
Hoping to attract new clientele, BMW has crafted a sedan aimed at capturing the attention of lower-end American buyers. The 2020 2 Series Gran Coupe is not a four-door version of the well-regarded 2 Series coupe, but you probably knew that by now.
Sporting precious little real estate between the front door and front wheel arch, a raised, pedestrian-cushioning hood, rear flanks and roofline mimicking the Chevrolet Malibu, a front-biased drivetrain, and a platform borrowed from a pair of small crossovers, the 2 Series Gran Coupe is not the long-hood affair you lusted after as a kid. To its credit, BMW couldn’t stomach the prospect of offering the model in FWD.
All-wheel drive comes standard on this thrifty German chariot.
Two models will be on offer when the 2 Series Gran Coupe arrives early next year: 228i xDrive and M235 xDrive. While the automaker describes the vehicle as “an extroverted, performance-oriented entry point into BMW ownership,” one could argue the emphasis lies more on “entry point” than “extroverted.”
Pricing will have to wait until closer to the model’s March 2020 on-sale date, but with the 3 Series now starting comfortably above the $40k mark, the decision to position a new four-door product in the low-to-mid $30k range isn’t surprising, nor is it a plan worthy of derision. With rival Mercedes-Benz now offering both a compact A-Class and CLA-Class, both available with an AMG makeover, it’s only sensible for Bimmer to fight back.
As for the vehicle itself, it’s fair game for armchair criticism. The car adopts 3 Series styling cues in the shape of the tail lamps and signature kidney grille, though the FWD proportions and economy car greenhouse could leave some BMW diehards feeling cold. Kudos on the frameless windows.
Buyers can expect two turbocharged powerplants: a base 2.0-liter making 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, and an uplevel M-bound 2.0L generating 301 hp and 332 lb-ft. An eight-speed automatic is the only way to manage outbound power.
Lest drivers start to think there’s an X1 and X2 platform beneath their feet (there is), BMW endowed the 2 Series Gran Coupe with a near-actuator wheel slip limitation (ARB) system that prevents understeer by placing the slip controller in the vehicle’s ECU, rather than in the Dynamic Stability Control’s control unit. The automaker claims this allows the vehicle to make the necessary corrections three times faster, all thanks to a quicker signal path.
Switch DSC off, and the car’s Electronic Differential Lock Control works the brakes to mimic a mechanical limited-slip differential. If looser driving is your thing, you can free up some playful slip by tuning the DSC to its Dynamic Traction Control setting. The all-wheel drive system, depending on drive mode selected, can split torque evenly between the front and rear wheels for drift attempts or channel it mainly through the front wheels for sedate, economy-minded driving.
Expect a torture test once Bimmer starts handing these things out to aggressive journos. In M guise, the smallest of the brand’s Gran Coupes offers Launch Control and a Torsen limited-slip diff to keep front wheel revolutions evenly matched.
BMW claims the base model will scoot to 60 mph in 6 seconds, with the M model making the trip in 4.7 seconds (4.6 with the M Performance Package).
Standard wheel size is 17 inches for the 228i and 18 inches for the M235i, though buyers can opt for 18- or 19-inch hoops on the lesser model and 19-inchers on the M. While the M variant benefits from a rigidity-boosting strut tower tie bar and bracing on the front axle subframe, as well as a 10mm ride height reduction, 228i buyers can gain these upgrades by ticking the M Sport suspension box at purchase time.
If gazing at the “low-slung” sedan leaves owners feeling overwhelmed, they can retire to the cabin of the vehicle, where a 8.8-inch (iDrive 6) touchscreen awaits. More visual distraction can be had in the form of the BMW Live Cockpit Professional (iDrive 7) display — a 10.25-inch display that’s paired with a digital instrument cluster of identical width. A 9.2-inch full-color head-up display is optional.
Should that prove insufficient, 2 Series Gran Coupe owners can listen to whatever 2 Series Gran Coupe owners listen to via an optional 16-speaker Harman Kardon surround sound system. Given that one of the three illuminated interior trim options carries the “Brooklyn” name, perhaps there’ll be banjos? Stingy buyers will have to make do with 10 speakers.
Tech, both safety-minded and convenience-oriented, abounds. Both models come standard with BMW’s Active Driving Assistant, a suite of driver-assist features that includes frontal collision warning, blind spot detection, lane departure warning with active lane return, rear cross-traffic warning, and daytime pedestrian detection. Bumper-mounted sensors should keep drivers from running into curbs and planters.
Of course, if you feel like spending more, there’s a broader suite of features available.
You’ll also be able to boss your vehicle around, so long as you start the order with “Hey BMW…” The BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant introduced on the 2020 3 Series appears here, with a virtual servant learning your favorite settings and defaulting to them if you complain, for example, of being too cold. You may not be the boss in your own home, but at least your car will respond to your pleas.
In a nod to the model’s entry-level positioning, BMW is offering a laundry list of standalone options for those who don’t want to shell out for a full equipment package. If only low-end automakers could offer such à la carte options… Oh well.
[Images: BMW Group]
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