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BMW 220d M Sport Gran Coupe (2020) review

BMW's controversially styled 2 Series Gran Coupe in 220d M Sport format.

Matt Robinson

Words: Matt Robinson - @MttRbnsn

Published on: February 18, 2020

Words: Matt Robinson - @MttRbnsn

Published on: February 18, 2020

Tech Specs

Model testedBMW 220d Gran Coupe M Sport
PricingGran Coupe range from €34,170; 220d M Sport from €44,260
Engine2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel
Transmissioneight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic, front-wheel drive
Body stylefour-door saloon
CO2 emissions110-119g/km (Band A3/A4 - €190/€200 per annum; NEDC-correlated figure)
Combined economy62.8-67.3mpg (4.5-4.2 litres/100km; NEDC-correlated figure)
Top speed235km/h
0-100km/h7.5 seconds
Power190hp at 4,000rpm
Torque400Nm at 1,750-2,500rpm
Boot space430 litres

BMW expands the 2 Series family with a new body style, in the form of the four-door Gran Coupe. Sadly, it's not just the startling look of this new BMW that we can't get on with...

In the metal

Let's be candid, the three marks the 2 Series Gran Coupe has picked up here almost all relate to its interior appeal. As to the exterior, well... we were brought up to think that if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all. So we won't. It's up to you to decide whether you think the 2 Gran Coupe looks appealing or not. We know where we stand, and our one response when asked about this car's external aesthetic would be 'ugh'.

So, to the cabin. There's a homogenous feel to all of BMW's interiors these days, which is brought about by the widespread use of the Live Cockpit Professional instrument cluster and the BMW Operating System 7.0 infotainment display. Yet to criticise the 2 Gran Coupe for having an ambience that is the same as seemingly every other BMW in the range would be daft. This is a cabin that feels high quality to the touch, which looks good on the eye (which is a whole lot more than can be said for the bodywork... [Enough of that - Ed]) and which is ergonomically near-perfect.

Of course, the whole reason the 2 Gran Coupe exists is to raise the 2 Series family's practicality levels and it has done that well. A 430-litre boot is 40 litres bigger than that found on the old 2 Series Coupe, with 40:20:40 split backrests sited in front of it for lots of configurability, and there's also 33mm of additional kneeroom in the back seats. With large rear doors, passenger access to the second row is easy and there's a surprising amount of headroom, too, given that sloping roofline.

Driving it

Being based on the same platform as the 1 Series Mk3 and the MINI, the majority of the 2 Series Gran Coupe range is, yes, front-wheel drive. That includes this 220d. And it leads to a rather underwhelming driving experience.

On first acquaintance, everything is rosy. The 2.0-litre turbodiesel engine burrs away discreetly, finding the ideal companion in that ultra-slick, wonderful eight-speed Steptronic automatic gearbox. Feathering the 220d Gran Coupe around town is therefore no hardship whatsoever, while a glass section that cuts into the C-pillar means there are no real visibility blind spots in the BMW and so it's an easy delight to place on the road.

The low-speed ride is good, too, as the M Sport comes on 18-inch wheels as standard and, once you leave the environs of town and build up speed on the motorway, the 220d's case certainly doesn't fall apart. The engine, muscular and packing a decent turn of speed when you need it, is a little more vocal nearing the 4,000rpm point of peak power, but it's actually quite a pleasant sound for a four-cylinder diesel, while the suppression of wind noise is excellent (bar slight ruffling around the door mirrors) and tyre roar only becomes evident on the worst concrete surfaces. Driven like this, which is presumably what most 220d Gran Coupes will be doing during their lives, it's a deeply accomplished car.

It's when you get to more interesting roads that the mask slips and the 2 Series Gran Coupe reminds you it's not very BMW-y at all. Oh, sure, the explosion in take-up for xDrive four-wheel drive over the years has perhaps demonstrated that the buying public doesn't actually care that much about which axle is driven on a car, and so 50:50 weight distribution and 'Ultimate Driving Machine' epithets are maybe wasted efforts. Yet the 220d isn't really any fun in the corners, in the way a rear-driven 320d would be. Up to a point, the Gran Coupe puts in a polished display - with fast, accurate (but feedback-free) steering that is nevertheless, in this M Sport model, once again controlled by an uncomfortably girthy wheel that robs you of what little feel there may be, as well as a good level of body control and a lot of front-end grip.

When you approach the point where grip is starting to run out, though, you get understeer. If conditions are only slightly slippery and you go marginally too heavy with your turn-in, the nose pushes wide. If you try to tighten your line in a bend with the outside-front wheel already loaded up, the nose pushes wide. If you attempt to get on the power too early in lower gears when driving out of tighter corners, the nose pushes wide. It's all it ever does. Add in a scrabbling loss of traction at the front, with marked axle-tramp if you don't quell it soon enough, and the 2 Series Gran Coupe feels like exactly what it is: a front-wheel-drive diesel car. And that's a real shame from a company that is reputed for turning out truly great chassis over the decades.

What you get for your money

BMW Ireland's starting price of €34,170 for a 218i Sport (six-speed manual, front-wheel drive, 140hp 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo petrol engine) looks to be good value, especially as BMW's standard equipment list is much more generous these days than it was in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The 220d M Sport as tested here comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, heated front sports seats with full leather upholstery, climate control, DAB, the digital instrumentation and infotainment, Park Distance Control all round, cruise control with a brake function, M Sport suspension, a multifunction M steering wheel and an extended interior lighting package, for a price of €44,260. That's a good €10,000 up on the base 218i and €8,445 adrift of a 320d M Sport Steptronic, which doesn't seem like a huge gap to us. Anyway, the spec on the 220d M Sport is decent, considering the outlay for the turbodiesel Gran Coupe.

Summary

An understandable addition to the BMW portfolio, given the existence of the 4 Series Gran Coupe, the 6 Series Gran Coupe and the glorious 8 Series Gran Coupe, the 2 Series Gran Coupe is - as you would expect - perfectly well-engineered and easy enough to live with and drive to see it picking up sales. But the handling experience is nothing like as sharp as you would expect from a BMW, while the exterior styling is disappointing in the extreme. And surely, if you're using the word 'coupe' (no matter how erroneously), undeniable aesthetic appeal has to be part of the package? It isn't here. And, for that reason, this 2 Series feels largely unnecessary.




Alternatives

Car Reviews | Audi A3 Saloon | CompleteCar.ie
Audi A3 Saloon vs. BMW 220d M Sport Gran Coupe (2020): it goes without saying that the rivals here are better looking than the 2 Series Gran Coupe. This generation of A3 is due to be phased out but it's still a classy operator.

Car Reviews | BMW 320d diesel Sport (2019) | CompleteCar.ie
BMW 3 Series vs. BMW 220d M Sport Gran Coupe (2020): well, we had to do this, didn't we? We can't imagine the €8,445 price gap to a 320d would work out to that much extra per calendar month on finance. And we'd much rather have the Three.

Car Reviews | Mercedes-Benz CLA 180 d diesel (2019) | CompleteCar.ie
Mercedes-Benz CLA vs. BMW 220d M Sport Gran Coupe (2020): the original four-door premium 'coupe', the styling is much better for the second-generation model and it drives rather well, too. Certainly, no worse than the BMW...

Tech Specs

Model testedBMW 220d Gran Coupe M Sport
PricingGran Coupe range from €34,170; 220d M Sport from €44,260
Engine2.0-litre four-cylinder turbodiesel
Transmissioneight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic, front-wheel drive
Body stylefour-door saloon
CO2 emissions110-119g/km (Band A3/A4 - €190/€200 per annum; NEDC-correlated figure)
Combined economy62.8-67.3mpg (4.5-4.2 litres/100km; NEDC-correlated figure)
Top speed235km/h
0-100km/h7.5 seconds
Power190hp at 4,000rpm
Torque400Nm at 1,750-2,500rpm
Boot space430 litres