BMW 2 Series Coupe overview
The new 2 Series Coupe is arguably the most truly BMW-ish car in the current line-up. Well, it is assuming that your ingrained stimulus-response reaction of what a BMW should look like is a tautly dimensioned two-door saloon with just about enough space for four, rear-wheel drive and a turret-like glasshouse and roof. If you think that sounds a lot like a 1980s E30 3 Series, then that should be no great surprise.
Is the 2 Series Coupe the best-looking recent BMW? The 8 Series might have something to say about that, but certainly this is less visually challenging than the likes of the iX SUV or the 4 Series Coupe with its 'beaver teeth' grille. This 2 Series has a proper, broad grille, inset with little hinged vanes that open and close according to the need for extra cooling or superior aerodynamics. You'll also notice that, stepping aside from recent BMW tradition, the 2 Series Coupe has only one headlight unit on each side of the grille - not the twin light units of all other BMWs. This is deliberate, as it's meant to be an homage to the classic 1602 and 2002 models of the late sixties and early seventies, which preceded the original E21 3 Series.
With those upright screens, flat roof, bulging bonnet and flared wheelarches, the 2 Series Coupe looks pugnacious; poised; purposeful. To these eyes, it just looks bloody good (especially in the Portimao Blue paintwork of our test car).
Underneath, the 2 Series is only tangentially related to the other BMW models of the same numeric value. The 2 Series Active Tourer might be badged 2 Series, but it's actually a front-wheel-drive model closely aligned with the 1 Series hatchback. This 2 Series Coupe, slightly confusingly, comes with rear-wheel drive (optionally four-wheel drive) and is more closely related to the 3 Series and 4 Series, and uses the same 'CLAR' architecture underneath.
The BMW 2 Series Coupe model range
The 2 Series Coupe model line-up is disarmingly simple. You get one trim level - M Sport - with three engine choices. Above those is a single M Performance model.
The range starts with the 220i, which uses a 184hp 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine. It has CO2 emissions from 144g/km, and a starting price of €51,032. Next up is the 230i, which uses the same core four-cylinder engine, but which is tuned to produce 245hp. It will cost you €59,785 and has CO2 emissions of 151g/km. Then there's the model we're testing here, the diesel-powered 220d, which uses BMW's long-serving 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel engine developing 190hp, with CO2 emissions as low as 122g/km. It'll cost you a minimum of €52,223.
Standard equipment for these M Sport models includes the eight-speed Steptronic automatic gearbox (no manual option alas, at least not until the new-generation M2 arrives), heated front seats, ambient lighting, automatic air conditioning, cruise control, adaptive LED headlights (which, on our test car, came with a subtle-but-nice band of gold-metallic colour within the lenses) with automatic high-beam assistant, a 12.3-inch digital instrument screen, a large 10.25-inch touchscreen that includes live connected services, three-zone climate control, an M Sport leather steering wheel, tuned M Sport suspension and 18-inch alloy wheels.
In addition to all of that, our test car came with options including parking assistant, a wireless phone charger and a wi-fi hotspot bundled as a 'Tech Pack' for €782, plus a €1,701 'Comfort Pack' that included a heated steering wheel, electric memory seats in the front and adjustable lumbar support.
At the top of the 2 Series Coupe range (at least until the aforementioned M2 arrives) is the M240i, which has a 374hp 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder petrol engine, four-wheel drive, 19-inch alloys and an even chunkier body kit with further suspension tweaks
Oh, and if you're picking a colour for your new 2 Series Coupe, there really is only one choice. While we really like the Portimao Blue of our test car, for €854 you can have it painted in a deep metallic purple called 'Thundernight.' Worth it for the name, alone.
The BMW 2 Series Coupe interior
The 2 Series Coupe's cabin is broadly lifted from the 3 Series and 4 Series, which means that it feels pretty familiar but none the worse off for that. Overall quality levels are excellent, and the driving position - although slightly offset - is comfortable. The front seats - optionally clad in Vernasca leather and Alcantara suede - are very comfortable indeed, and if the steering wheel does fall prey to that traditional over-stuffed rim feeling common to many BMWs, then we can probably forgive that.
In front of you, there's a 12.3-inch digital instrument panel that is perhaps less configurable than that of many rivals (Mercedes especially), but which is generally quite clear and easy to use. The background colours change, subtly, when you choose between Comfort, Sport, or Eco Pro driving modes, which you do via a switch down on the centre console.
In the centre of the dash is the 10.25-inch infotainment screen, which has a multiplicity of control options. You can use it as a touchscreen; you can use the iDrive click-wheel down on the centre console; you can use the steering wheel buttons for some functions; you can use voice control; or you can use gesture control. Those last two options are as hopeless here as they are in most cars. The 2 Series Coupe doesn't yet get the curved display that comes with the latest eighth-generation of BMW's operating software, but it's still pretty impressive, and generally quite simple to use. We'd say that the Mercedes MBUX setup still has an edge on this BMW system, but it's not a massive margin. Built-in tech includes Apple CarPlay wireless connection, Android Auto and Amazon Alexa integration.
On the centre console you'll find the stubby gear selector, a stop-start button, switches for the electric parking brake, the iDrive controller and the driving mode selector. In front of all that is a covered storage area with two cupholders and the wireless charging pad. There's a USB socket in there, as well as a 12-volt connector. Under your left arm there's a lidded storage area that is a good size, and in which you'll find a USB-C connector.
This 2 Series Coupe has a wheelbase that's 51mm longer than that of the previous model, and that means you do get a bit more rear space. Don't go expecting limo-like room though - there are only two seats for a start, as a plastic storage tray sits between them. Legroom is just about acceptable, but anyone approaching six feet in height is going to find that their head will be brushing the roof liner, and that's without the optional glass sunroof fitted. It's on the cusp of being practical enough for daily use, but a four-door Mercedes-Benz CLA (arguably a more natural rival to the front-drive 2 Series Gran Coupe) would be more practical still.
The boot is bigger than that of the old 2 Series, and has a 390-litre capacity. That's not massive, but it's useful enough and the boot is well-shaped, if a touch shallow. You can split-fold the back seats (in 40:20:40 formation), which is a first for the 2 Series Coupe.
What's nice about the 2 Series Coupe's cabin is how intimate it feels. The 2 Series isn't all that smaller than a 4 Series Coupe - it still measures 4.5 metres long - but the stubby dimensions of the glass and roof mean that the cabin feels a little more enclosed, more cockpit-like. It's interesting how different BMW has been able to make the 2 Series Coupe subjectively feel, even though it's using all the same components as the 3 and 4 Series. Oh, and frameless doors make getting in and out more of an event, every time.
The BMW 220d M Sport Coupe driving experience
Don't go expecting sparkling straight-line performance. The venerable "M47" 2.0-litre diesel might be out of fashion at the moment, but it's still an engine with impressive all-round abilities. It's not especially quick, is all. With 400Nm of torque doing the shoving, the 220d gets up and going pretty briskly, but the rush runs out early, and so you're into traditional diesel territory of surfing along on the torque wave, using small jabs of extra grunt to bring you up to speed when needed. It's a satisfying way to drive, but perhaps not quite as engaging as one of the petrol-engined options.
That said, this engine's trump card is its economy. BMW says you can squeeze 4.7 litres per 100km efficiency out of the 220d, and we managed 4.8 litres per 100km. That was without any specific 'driving for economy' and included a spirited run over a favourite back road. Even in an increasingly electric age, it's impressive just how economical this 220d can be.
Engage Sport mode down on the console and nudge the gear selector to the left to put the gearbox in its own Sport mode and you have a hugely engaging car to drive. The steering, lifted all-but-unchanged from the 3 Series, is one of the best electrically-assisted racks of them all - it's not as out-and-out talkative as the best hydraulic steering systems of old, but there's still plenty of feel and feedback coming through the steering wheel, and the 2 Series Coupe's inherently well-judged chassis balance encourages you to enjoy yourself.
What you really notice is just how precisely the 220d pivots around a point that seems to be in line with your own hips - you notice this especially on switchback roads where you need to constantly point the nose in a new direction. There's so little slack in the 220d's responses that it's all-but impossible not to have fun. The front-drive 2 Series Gran Coupe has its moments, and can be enjoyable, but the sheer deftness of the 2 Coupe's rear-drive layout shows why pushing power to the back wheels is still king.
Downsides? The ride, even on the basic 18-inch alloys, is firm to the point of harshness at times (the optional adaptive dampers can go a long way towards easing that) and the suppression of wind and tyre noise is nothing special. In this respect, the 2 Series Coupe is a car that your passengers will enjoy far less than you.
Our verdict on the BMW 2 Series Coupe
The useable, affordable 2+2 coupe market has all-but disappeared, shrunken by the twin pincers of SUVs and four-door 'coupes.' Bravo then to BMW for keeping the old flame burning, because this 2 Series Coupe is an apt reminder of what we've been missing. It's good to look at, excellent to drive, tolerably practical and cool in a way that no crossover could possibly hope to match. The diesel engine feels out of step with modern mores, but it's exceptionally economical.
What do the rest of the team think?
There are very few traditional compact coupes left on the new car market, which enthusiasts should be sad about. The BMW 2 Series Coupe is a brilliant reminder of how engaging and desirable they can be. Sure, the diesel engine feels out of place in 2022, but that doesn't stop this car being a real hoot to drive. What's more, while it is on the firm side, it also manages to deal with poor Irish roads in an accomplished manner. Seriously though: buy the petrol one.
Shane O' Donoghue - Editor