BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe Review
BMW have dared to be different with their 2 Series Gran Coupe - and they should be applauded for doing so. It’s fair to say the 2 Series Gran Coupe’s looks and styling has divided opinion, with some criticising the distinctive front end, others the chunky rear.
But when you take the Gran Coupe at face value, you can’t help but feel that BMW purists are missing the point. Without manufacturers taking a risk, we’d never have enjoyed so-called ‘Marmite’ cars like the Fiat Coupe, Nissan Cube or the more modern Citroen C4 Cactus.
And what this particular 2 Series does is offer owners the Gran Coupe experience without the associated cost. A BMW 4 Series Gran Coupe will set you back £39,870, while the 8 Series Gran Coupe will leave a £71,435 shaped hole in your bank balance.
The 2 Series Gran Coupe, meanwhile, starts from just £26,410. And with a sweeping silhouette and genuine mile-munching capabilities, it’s a luxurious, continent-crossing car for a fraction of the money you might expect to pay for one.
It’s got boot space on a par with the best in class, an uncluttered interior that exudes quality, and a state-of-the-art infotainment system.
There’s also a choice of engines that runs the gamut from extremely practical and economical, to something with a lot more oomph. It is, then, a worthy competitor to the Audi A4 and the Mercedes-Benz CLA.
And whisper it quietly… but the styling is highly likely to grow on you, too.
Select's rating score* - 3.5 / 5
The Series 2 Gran Coupe was first unveiled back in March this year. It arrived, BMW tells us, to continue the ‘success story’ of the Gran Coupe concept.
The BMW 6 Series Gran Coupe arrived in 2012, followed two years later by the BMW 4 Series Gran Coupé. The new BMW 8 Series Gran Coupé has been available since September 2019, which leaves the 2 Series Gran Coupe as the spring chicken.
And no sooner had it hit forecourts it began prompting a lot of head-scratching. The first thing to notice was the silhouette, which BMW calls a ‘classical coupe’ shape. And whichever side of the fence you sit on, there are some eye-catching stylistic flourishes, including frameless windows for the four doors and the tall yet somehow low-slung appearance.
As on BMW coupes from higher up the range, the one-piece kidney grille adopts a ‘sleek design which extends almost the full width between the headlights’.
That kidney grille is even more pronounced in the range topping BMW M235i xDrive M Performance, which features a pronounced three-dimensional mesh with a Cerium grey finish in place of the classical bars. The outer air intakes are also larger on the M235i xDrive also get the Cerium grey finish.
Like the refined interior, the choice of configurations for the baby Gran Coupe are also uncomplicated.
There’s a choice of four engines - one diesel and two petrol - with the diesels and the most potent petrol mill married to an eight-speed Steptronic sport transmission with paddles on the steering wheel. As you might expect, it’s also roomier than the standard 2 Series Coupe - though headroom in the back is slightly compromised by that sloping coupe roof.
A generous 430-litre boot falls just short of the Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz CLA, but not by much. The cabin itself borrows heavily from the well-appointed 1 Series, with BMW’s intuitive and acclaimed ‘Operating System 7.0’, which can be controlled via a 8.8 inch touchscreen as well as the dependable push button on the centre console.
And because it’s a Gran Coupe, the 2 Series also benefits from a host of driver assistance goodies that you’d expect from cars higher up the range, including collision and pedestrian warning with city braking function, Lane Departure Warning with active lane return and cruise control with braking function all as standard.
What won’t please all BMW owners is that this Gran Coupe is front-wheel drive, just like the new 1 Series.
There are three variants of the 2 Series Gran Coupe - Sport, M Sport and the M Performance range-topping M235i xDrive.
The Sport model features sport seats, upholstered in Nivala Cloth with orange or silver contrast stitching, while the M Sport gets sports seats in Dakota leather.
The M235i adds the M Seats with integrated headrests upholstered in cloth Alcantara. A sports steering wheel with decorative aluminium-look insert is standard on Sport models, the M Sport and the M235i xDrive models come equipped with an M Sport leather steering wheel.
In base ‘Sport’ trim, which starts at £26,410, owners will enjoy 17-inch alloys, BMW’s ‘Active Guard Plus’ system - which includes speed limit information, lane departure warning, collision and pedestrian warning with city braking, and cruise control with braking function - as well as the Live Cockpit Plus infotainment system all as standard.
Move up to M Sport, with prices starting at £28,910, and there’s 18 inch alloys, M Sport aerodynamic bodystyling, the blinged-up kidney grille, heated front seats, better lighting in the interior, the M Sport steering and suspension set-up for a sportier ride, as well as larger 10.25 inch screens for both the instrument display and infotainment system.
Meanwhile the pricier, at £38,315, M235i xDRIVE really sees the Gran Coupe finding its performance groove. BMW Group’s most powerful four-cylinder, turbo-charged engine delivers 306 hp with impressive acceleration stats, while the bodywork now gives away the car’s sporting pedigree.
There’s a dual exhaust tailpipe, more aggressive-looking 18 inch alloy wheels, M Sport seats and seatbelts in the cabin,
And as well as an all-wheel-drive system, the M235i also benefits from an M Sport braking system and an even tighter steering and suspension set-up than the middle-tier models.
What’s perhaps interesting to note is that none of the engines feature mild-hybrid tech to boost fuel economy and there’s obviously no plug-in hybrid variant either.
You might be surprised to learn that you can own the 2 Series Gran Coupe with a relatively small-sounding 1.5 litre petrol engine, which is married to a six-speed manual gearbox.
This 218i mill is a three-cylinder unit with 140hp and which can generate peak torque of 220Nm. There’s also an over-boost function which briefly generates an extra 10Nm in fourth gear or higher. And the BMW 218i accelerates from zero to 62mph in 8.7 seconds and can reach a top speed of 134mph.
That might not sound particularly engaging, but in reality it’s probably more than enough for sedate and sensible journeying.
The base diesel engine is a 2.0 litre ‘218d’, which has 150 hp and can do the 0-62mph sprint a shade quicker than the 1.5 petrol at 8.6 seconds. A much punchier diesel is the ‘220d’. This is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit which generates a maximum power output of 190hp with a peak torque of 400Nm.
The sprint from zero to 62mph takes just 7.5 seconds on the way to a top speed of 146mph. The 220d is also bolted to BMW’s eight-speed Steptronic sport transmission, which has recently been improved in terms of shift comfort and its acoustic properties.
BMW promises ‘swift automatic gear changes’; that ‘ensure the car is driving in the highest possible gear, even when travelling at low speeds’. The driver can also change gear manually using the shift paddles on the steering wheel.
Meanwhile the range-topping M235i is where the back of skulls truly start being planted in headrests. Power - all 306 hp of it - comes from a turbo-charged 2.0 litre engine with peak torque is 450Nm.
The first 0-62mph is dispatched in just 4.9 seconds, while top speed is limited to 155mph. If you want to play the comparison game, that makes the 2 Series Gran Coupe quicker than the recently revealed ‘P400e’ plug-in hybrid variant of Jaguar’s F-Pace.
As mentioned previously, there’s no electric hybrid tech in the 2 Series Gran Coupe line-up. But if you’re keeping an eye on the purse strings, the 220d should offer the right compromise between performance and frugality.
Here owners should be able to get up to 57.6 miles to the gallon, while it generates between 134-129 g/km of CO2 emissions. The 218d diesel, while not as powerful as the 220d, is slightly more economical, returning up to 60.1 miles to the gallon and between 128-123 g/km of CO2.
The smaller petrol engine, the 218i, returns up to 47.1 miles to the gallon in standard ‘Sport’ trim and needs to be worked slightly harder through the gears in order to eke the right amount of power from the 1.5 litre mill.
Meanwhile the M235i is perhaps more economical than you might expect, considering how rapid it is. BMW claims it’ll return up to 37.2 miles to the gallon while emitting 178-172 g/km of CO2.
The interior of the 2 Series Gran Coupe is very much pilfered from the 1 Series - and that’s no bad thing at all - because while it’s brimming with tech, it’s understated, solid and typically BMW-quality luxurious.
In basic ‘Sport’ trim, there’s a couple of choices of interior cloth colours - black with a grey highlight or black with an eye-catching orange flourish. And as you move up the range there’s plenty of leather to plump for, from ‘Magma Red’ to ‘Oyster’ with a grey highlight.
A panoramic glass sunroof is a £1,000 optional extra, while a heated steering wheel will set you back an additional £150.
But perhaps the best thing about the interior is the functionality of the BMW ‘7.0’ infotainment system. As standard owners get BMW’s ‘Live Cockpit Plus’, which includes a 8.8" touch display, BMW navigation system, two USB ports for data transfer and a WiFi interface.
There’s also a host of connected services available as standard, including Emergency Call, Teleservices, Over-the-air and USB map updates, BMW App connectivity and Intelligent Voice assistant, and Apple CarPlay.
If you’re opting for an M Sport model, or the M235i, you get the ‘Live Cockpit Professional’ package, which includes a fully digital, customisable instrument display behind the steering wheel with a screen size of 10.25 inches, coupled with a 10.25-inch Central Information Display. As well as a more customisable screen set-up, you also get On-Street Parking Information, Connected Navigation and Intelligent Vehicle Functionality, which learns the drivers’ habits.
And what’s crucial to point out is how intuitive the system feels compared with other rivals. You can operate the functions via either the tactile ‘iDrive Controller’, by touch, voice or gestures. There’s even the option of a 9.2 inch, full colour Head-up Display which intelligently positions information relevant to the journey into the driver's field of vision on the windscreen
The 2 Series Gran Coupe might not have the large boot opening size of the 1 Series hatchback, but it’s certainly not short of luggage carrying capacity.
The boot size is a healthy 430 litres, compared to the 460 litre trunk you’ll find in both the Audi A4 saloon and the Mercedes CLA. Thankfully there’s a 40/20/40 split rear seat backrest, while the rear bench can be released entirely from the load compartment to create lots more load space.
BMW describes rear knee room as ‘generous’, and that’s about right. Rear passengers get 33mm of extra knee room over the BMW 2 Series Coupe, while the seating position is 12mm higher with 14mm more headroom when the optional panoramic roof is specified.
There’s lots of ambient lighting which highlights the car’s quality, including trim strips on the instrument panel and door panels that retain their normal appearance in daylight, but function as decorative lighting elements in the dark.
On M Sport and M235i models there’s also ‘Extended Lighting’ as standard, with six colours to choose from and adjustable brightness levels.
Here the lighting is activated as soon as the vehicle is unlocked. And if you like driving with your tunes blaring, the 2 Series Gran Coupe appears to be a car for music lovers. The standard sound system offers six speakers and a 100-watt amplifier, while a Harman Kardon surround sound system with 464 watts of audio power and 16 speakers is available as an option.
The BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe hasn’t been crash-tested yet by Euro NCAP. But both the latest 1 Series and the 3 Series have scored the full five stars, the 3 Series being particularly praised for driver safety.
And the 2 Series Gran Coupe comes fully-loaded with driver assistance and safety measures. One major element to highlight is the fact that BMW has included near actuator wheel slip limitation (ARB) tech from the BMW i3 as standard in the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupé.
The main aim of this is to reduce power understeer, improving handling by intelligently applying the brakes at the wheels on the inside of the bend, just before the slip threshold is reached.
As standard, owners have the peace of mind of knowing the Gran Coupe is equipped with collision and pedestrian warning with city braking function, alongside Lane Departure Warning with active lane return. Cruise control, with braking function, is also standard spec.
For an extra £1,000 you can opt for the ‘Driving Assistant’ package. This improves on the basic safety measures to include the Lane Change Warning system, which prompts the driver to guide the car back into the correct lane at speeds from 12-155mph by means of a visual warning and, if necessary, a steering input.
The Driving Assistant’s other functions include the route-ahead assistant, rear collision warning and crossing traffic warning, which reduces the risk of a collision when reversing into roads obstructed from the driver’s view, and Active Cruise Control system with Stop & Go function.
There are parking sensors front and rear as standard, while the optional £350 Park Assist includes a rear camera, Lateral Parking aid, Parking Assistant, Reversing Assist camera and Reversing Assistant.
There are four base colour options to choose from - non-metallic ‘Alpine’ white, as well as metallic black, grey and red. The Sport models get their own additional and exclusive colour range - a non-metallic black as well as a metallic ‘Mineral White’, metallic ‘Seaside Blue’ and a striking metallic ‘Sunset Orange’.
Meanwhile the M Sport and M235i also have their own trio of colour options - ‘Snapper’ blue, ‘Misano’ blue, and a moody ‘Storm Bay’.
There’s a limited choice of interior trims but some eight different sets of alloy wheels to choose from, including aggressive V spoke designs to more sedate double-spoke offerings.
And there’s a good selection of optional extras to boost the ownership experience, from adaptive LED headlights to ‘Comfort Access’, which lets you open the car’s doors with a swoosh of your smartphone.
The 2 Series Gran Coupe occupies a fairly small niche in the market, but there are still a couple of key competitors - and yes, BMW is once again locking horns with arch-nemeses Audi and Mercedes-Benz.
While not a ‘coupe’ as such, you’d imagine most 2 Series Gran Coupe buyers would first take a glance at the Audi A4 saloon, which is more expensively-priced at £31,110 in base trim.
The A4 has a bigger boot and similar levels of comfort, but it doesn’t have that big grand touring coupe feel. The sporty Audi S4 also starts at £48,700 - a good ten grand more than the BMW M235i.
The Mercedes-Benz CLA has much more of that coupe silhouette, and the interior veers towards the glam rather than functional, which might appeal depending on your tastes. The CLA also has the option of plug-in hybrid technology, courtesy of the ‘250?e’, which might also sway your decision.
But the CLA is also more expensive than the 2 Series Gran Coupe, with prices beginning at £31,325 for the base saloon - and £37,450 for the electrified version. The more you look at the £26,410 asking price for the 2 Series Gran Coupe the more you come to suspect you’re getting a bit of a bargain.
The 2 Series Gran Coupe, while stylistically interesting, won’t appeal to everyone. The ‘does my bum look big in this?’ jokes aimed at the car’s rear end are abundant online.
But there will be people reading this who look at the silhouette and think, ‘I actually really like it’ - and if you’re the sort of person who doesn’t stick religiously to the herd, this could be a brilliant car for you.
The frameless doors and ‘shark-nose’ front, particularly on snorting M235i mode, are particularly pleasing on the eye. And what really appeals about this particular 2 Series is the fact it’s welcoming you into the Gran Coupe fold without tearing an enormous hole in your finances.
When you can get an M Sport model for sub thirty grand - still cheaper than the base Audi A4 - it’s really hard to argue with the figures.
Lease price: from £224 inc VAT
*Score based on Select’s unique meta score analysis, taking into account the UK’s top six leading independent car website reviews of the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe.
**Correct as of 29/09/2020. Based on 9 months initial payment, 5,000 miles over a 48 month lease. Initial payment equivalent to 9 monthly payments or £2,013.55. Ts and Cs apply. Credit is subject to status.