Good: improved appearance, better quality interior
Not so good: limited space for rear passengers
Looking back at older photographs of ourselves can often make us appreciate how we look today. This is partly down to evolving trends and partly down to the belief that everything, including ourselves, gets better with age.
Undoubtedly, if it could, the BMW 2 Series Coupe would feel the same looking back at its former self. In 2007, when the 1 Series Coupe - as it was then known - arrived on the scene it was an awkwardly-styled car that was trying to fit into a new segment, but it was always going to be overshadowed by its bigger, prettier and more elegant sibling, the 3 Series Coupe. As time went on though the 3 Series Coupe evolved into the 4 Series we know today, as did the 1 Series Coupe evolve into what we see here, the 2 Series Coupe.
BMW's youngest coupe is certainly growing up and has done more than simply get itself a new hairstyle and lose the dodgy glasses. Following its elder sibling's form, the current BMW 2 Series Coupe has increased dimensionally (not by a great deal though) and crucially has found a significantly sleeker image. Most noticeable are the changes to the front of the car's design, which depict a far more athletic style, and one that is more befitting of a junior coupe. The grille has a shallower angle and those feline headlight units really help transform the look of the car. In M Sport specification the lower bumper is well defined by sharp contours around the lower air intakes, which also incorporate the fog lamps.
BMW's designers even managed to improve upon the roofline too, which was always a little bit out of proportion. Its boot lid does still appear a touch too short, but in general, the rear end is a well-rounded exercise in design. Some may feel the sight of a single small exhaust tip is perhaps underwhelming but the much sportier styling has been reserved for the more performance-orientated M235i model. Against its rivals, of which there is an eclectic mix, including the Peugeot RCZ and Volkswagen Scirocco, the BMW is the most conservative design. However, the pull of the blue and white roundel on the bonnet should be strong enough to overcome any shortcomings in the sporting aesthetics department.
Almost expectedly, the interior of the 220d feels not only well built but also carries that instant familiarity of modern BMW design. Well insulated it is too, which becomes apparent when you thumb that Engine Start button. BMW's current crop of four-cylinder diesel engines work well and deliver decent performance, but a pleasant soundtrack is something that seemed to go beyond the remit of its engineers.
Still, with 190hp on tap and CO2 emissions of 107g/km (when fitted with the automatic transmission), the 220d clearly strikes a good balance between power and efficiency. Just as well balanced is the car's handling, which, even when hustled across uneven back roads, manages to remain composed thanks to fine damping that helps even out the lumps and bumps.
If you drive the 220d faster, that coarseness of the diesel engine starts to come through. However, this isn't a car to drive particularly hard - that's what the M235i is for. No, this is much more a car that is content to be driven at seven tenths and at that pace it will return an entertaining and rewarding driving experience. Its steering is well-weighted and the eight-speed automatic transmission is certainly one of the best currently on the market today.
Crucially, although the 2 Series still falls short of what the 4 Series currently offers, the junior coupe is junior only in dimensions. It feels every bit the true BMW inside and we reckon that, looking back on it in five, six or seven years' time, it will still very much look the part.