BMW hasn't messed too much with a winning formula.
Along with the 3 Series, the 2 Series Coupe has been one of those rare, universally appealing models within BMW's lineup over the last few years. It doesn't have outrageous styling, the driving experience has always been tactile and fun, and power was directed to the right set of wheels. This week, the new 2 Series was leaked and for all BMW fans, the immediate question was: Has BMW messed too much with a winning formula, or is the second-generation 2 Series a success? Well, here it is and that's a question we'll attempt to answer over the next few minutes.
It has to be said that initial impressions are far more promising than was the case with the latest 4 Series. Compared to the outgoing 230i, the new 2 Series in 230i guise is 4.3 inches longer, 2.6 inches wider, an inch lower, and rides on a wheelbase that has been lengthened by two inches. European models are pictured here which is why the model in white is a 220i, which won't be offered in the US.
BMW has widened the tracks by a significant 2.8 inches in front and 1.9 inches at the back on the 230i, and by 2.5/2.4 inches on the M240i xDrive. These changes give it a wider, more aggressive stance yet it still has a sporty, compact look about it. It's the various styling details that will be hotly debated in the weeks to come. On a positive note, the kidney grille with its vertical air flaps looks far better than the grille on the 4 Series. We also like the powerful fenders, the short overhangs, and the fact that the Hofmeister kink hasn't gone anywhere.
BMW says that the smaller headlights were inspired by the BMW 2002 models which is why they only have a single circular full-LED headlight, which is a notable departure from almost every other modern BMW. However, we can't ask automakers to "come up with something new" and hold too tightly to the past at the same time. In this case, the 2 Series has a cheeky, bold face that we think works well.
At the back, the taillights with a three-dimensional effect have been positioned at the outer edge of the car; these clusters move away from the gentle L-shaped taillights of the previous model. 230i models have rounded exhaust tips and M240i xDrive variants get larger trapezoidal items. The latter also has Shadowline trim, an M trunk lid spoiler, and M mirror caps.
Color choices include Alpine White, Melbourne Red Metallic, Portimao Blue Metallic, and the distinctive Thundernight Metallic (purple) featured on the M240i here - it looks like a color more associated with a Dodge Challenger.
The new 2 Series is expected to be just as much of a performer as its fun-to-drive predecessor. Unlike the 2 Series Gran Coupe, this is a rear-wheel-drive car (or one with a rear-biased AWD system in the case of xDrive variants).
The 230i uses a tweaked 2.0-liter four-cylinder turbocharged engine with outputs of 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, increases of 7 hp and 37 lb-ft. In RWD guise, it'll scoot to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds. An eight-speed automatic transmission with launch control is standard.
The M240i xDrive - the only other model to be offered at launch - uses the familiar 3.0-liter six-cylinder turbocharged engine that makes 382 hp and 369 lb-ft. Torque is negligibly better but power is up by a nice 47 hp.
With AWD traction, the M240i will reach 60 mph in only 4.1 seconds. Both models can reach a top speed of 155 mph if properly equipped. BMW says that the latest eight-speeder introduces sharper shift patterns and also improves efficiency. Shift paddles add to the fun and an optional Sprint function for the 230i switches the gearbox into the lowest possible gear following a tug of more than a second on the left shift paddle.
The M240i xDrive gets an M Sport rear differential as standard. This is a RWD car in most cases, unless the added traction of AWD is required based on the driving conditions. The old 2 Series was a joy to drive but the combination of wider tracks, a 12-percent increase in torsional rigidity, and a near-perfect 50:50 weight distribution should make this one even better.
Model-specific electric power steering is standard and the M240i xDrive gets Variable Sport steering, making low-speed maneuvers easier but firming things up when necessary.
After the thoroughly reworked look of the exterior, the interior almost comes as a bit of a disappointment. At first glance, it looks identical to the cabin in the 3 Series. While that should ensure a notable step up in quality, the design seems especially staid for a sporty coupe. Thankfully, there are some fun textures and lighting patterns on the doors that you won't find in a 3 Series. As standard, the 230i gets power front seats, three-zone climate control, active blind-spot detection, and lane departure warning.
The M240i xDrive has a standard moonroof which is 20 percent larger than before. It also adds an M sport steering wheel and ambient interior lighting.
For infotainment duties, the new 2 Series uses the iDrive 7 operating system with an 8.8-inch central touchscreen. Analog gauges and a 5.1-inch driver information display are standard, but the BMW Live Cockpit Professional is optional with its 12.3-inch digital display. This upgrade will also add a larger 10.25-inch central touchscreen. For the first time, a head-up display is available on BMW's smallest coupe and projects information like speed and warnings for the driver-assist systems. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto are standard, while the default 10-speaker Hi-Fi sound system can be upgraded to a 14-speaker Harman Kardon unit.
The standard perforated SensaTec upholstery can be upgraded to Vernasca leather, and you can spice up the look with colors like Cognac, Tacora Red, and Black with Blue stitching.
As usual, there is a vast options list that includes larger wheels, remote engine start, a drive recorder, and Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go. The 230i can also be had with the Dynamic Handling Package that includes an M Sport rear differential.
Pricing will begin at $36,350 for the 230i Coupe with RWD, an increase of just $450 over the equivalent older model. The M240i xDrive will cost you $48,550, an even smaller $200 increase. These prices exclude a destination charge of $995. The market launch of the 2022 BMW 2 Series Coupe is slated for November 2021. BMW says that 230i xDrive and M240i RWD models will follow, although pricing for these variants is yet to be revealed.