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FIRST DRIVE: BMW 2 Series Coupe

BMW's compact sports coupe looks sleeker than pictures suggest

Deon Van Der Walt
March 17, 2022
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Some interesting topics are doing the rounds in the relatively unmoderated sub-forum online communities relating to the BMW 2 Series Coupe. Some members want to know where to find aftermarket spoilers. Some want to know the diffs between the, well, diffs. On some sub-threads, though, there are even heated debates surrounding the origins of the BMW 2 Series Coupe. 

This is, in part, thanks to the normally robust numerical naming conventions that BMW is known for. So, naturally, some reckon it started with the F22 that was also the first denoted as a 2 Series Coupe. This would often be trailed by someone who wants to communicate their feelings with a mood board of emojis followed by a statement that it was in fact the 1M that gave rise to this popular compact sports car format. Not an incorrect statement, mind you, despite the emojical overuse. According to BMW, however, the real spiritual predecessor wore a 2002 badge and this new 2 Series, by way of some styling cues, pays homage to that legendary car.

It's quite easy to see the resemblance, though, even on the off-chance that it's purely coincidental. Naturally, it has two doors. The grille with its active vents has been kept to tastefully compact dimensions and unlike other performance-infused BMWs, the newest 2 Series Coupe hasn’t received the dual-eye headlight clusters. From the side, all the right lines are in all the right places to make this the natural heir to the outgoing model but it’s at the rear three-quarter angle that this new 2 Series is, and this is purely my view, an absolute stunner. 

It's certainly helped by the fact that both the 220i and 220d derivatives come standard with BMW’s M Sport pack that adds 19” twin-spoke wheels, grille and tailpipe trimmings in chrome as well as M model insignias, to name but a few. The flagship M240i xDrive also features 19” wheels as standard with the option of upgrading to 20” to better complement the M Performance pack. 

Business as usual on the inside

On the inside, it’s the intuitive driving position of the Two that is immediately evident. It’s almost too easy to settle into that perfect driving position and get comfortable. Other than that, it’s pretty much business as usual inside the cabin with the customary high-quality trim and finishes that BMW is revered for, even if it lacks some personality. The standard blue contrast stitching on the Alcantara seats is a nice touch but I am of the opinion that it feels a bit out of place should you opt for a red 220. While an inconsequential detail in the grand scheme of things, I think an opportunity was missed to incorporate the much-revered M-colours into the stitching to match the three-coloured M legend worked into the door panel. 

BMW’s Live Cockpit Professional also features as standard in the new 2 Series Coupe with the fully-digital instrument cluster and 12.3” central screen. 

On the road

Power comes courtesy of three different engines, all mated to an 8-speed automatic ‘box with the 220i producing a healthy 135 kW and 300 Nm of torque from its 2.0-litre turbo petrol powerplant. The turbo diesel’s power also comes in 2.0-litre capacity and ups the ante to 140 kW and 400 Nm of torque with the assistance of a 48-Volt mild-hybrid system resulting in a 0-100 km/h sprint of 7 seconds; half a second quicker than its petrol sibling. The range-topping M240i churns out 35 kW more than its predecessor at 285 kW with maximum torque turning the wheels at 500 Nm. This translates into a benchmark sprint of just 4.3 seconds. The drive for both 220 models is sent exclusively to the rear wheels, while all wheels share the traction burden on the M240i.

But that’s all just numbers and well, it doesn’t lie. While the 220i efficiently gets on with the job at hand, it’s the diesel that really impressed me during the test drive stints. Out of the gates, it sounds and, well, feels diesel but its in-gear acceleration is its true party trick with near-instantaneous Newtons that are eager to be exploited. Add to that the fuel consumption that consistently registered in the low sixes and this is without a doubt the engine that best marries performance and economy and makes for an extremely compelling package. That is if you can overlook the characteristic diesel clatter on start-up.  

And the M240i? If you identify as a dyed-in-the-wool petrol head, it isn’t even a question that this is the package for you. Even now, writing this, I can’t pinpoint what exactly it was that provoked the high-pitched squeals from my end of the cabin. Was it the hair-raisingly beautiful mechanical shouts that emanated from the in-line six-cylinder or the car’s sheer ability to relentlessly accelerate when you give the demands on the loud pedal... In an ideal world, where petrol prices aren’t at an all-time high, this would be my choice, especially given the high level of speed-related spec that comes standard with the M240i.  

The verdict

BMW makes cars that are significantly more powerful. Some even have a better ability to scare you to the point of reassessing your life choices. Some have more space – not that the 390 litres of boot space is anything to scoff at… I daresay some, despite the controversially-large nostrils, are even more interesting to look at. And yet, I’m still to drive one that’s as involving as the Two with its ability to make a driver feel special – even away from any twisty tarmac. It is, unequivocally, a deserving successor to the BMW 2002.


BMW 220i Coupé: R771,900

BMW 220d Coupé: R819,278

BMW M240i xDrive: R1,062,420


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