Why would I avoid it?
- Is expensive for what it has to offer
- Lacks the grunt of the diesel counterpart
- Second row isn’t spacious enough
“Is it the Night Fury?” asked my nephew when I showed him the picture of the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe you see here. ‘No, that’d be the Black Shadow edition of it’, I replied. It does a have striking resemblance to Toothless, isn’t it? Despite being the pint-sized Bimmer, the 2 Series Gran Coupe manages to turn heads as if Berk’s alpha dragon showed up for real.
Not exactly a coupe and based on the front-wheel-drive architecture, the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe is a youthful alternative for someone looking for an entry into the big league. Compared to the diesel-powered 220d version we reviewed earlier, the young-at-heart owner of the 220i would enjoy a refined motor and BMW’s renowned driving dynamics along with the sporty cabin and the slight practicality thrown in. The 2 Series Gran Coupe, then, is a stylish changeover amidst the SUV-dominated world we live in.
Engine and Performance
With the 20i on the boot lid, powering the petrol-powered 2 Series is the refined 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine which also does duties in the Mini Cooper and X1. It has an almost identical power of 189bhp at 5,000rpm as the 220d diesel; while the torque output of 280Nm accessible between 1,350-4,600rpm is down compared to 400Nm available in the oil burner. Turn over the engine and it settles into a refined idle, although in Sport mode, ones standing near the dual exhaust tip might be greeted by some raucous thump.
Sending the power to the front wheels only is a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic. It does a fairly good job of upshifting quickly, keeping the motor churning under 2,000rpm for everyday city driving. Although for a quick burst of power you’d have to wait for a few ticks for revs to rise to 4000rpm. It’s here where the motor feels alive and kicking. But it won’t snap your neck when the throttle is smashed to the ground. Even the dual-clutch gearbox takes some time to decide which cog to slide when hurried but the shifts remain free of any jolt or jounce.
Those familiar with BMW’s four-banger will know the progressive nature of this motor. There’s ample grunt at slow speeds but it’s surely not comparable to the strong pull you get in the 220d. For triple-digit cruising, you can keep the motor running as low as 1,700rpm but it needs to be woken up from slumber if the need for a quick overtake arises. Of course, there’s the manual mode with paddle shifters behind the wheel to take control and it does a fairly good job too. Then there are the usual three driving modes. In the Eco Pro, throttle response is subdued to extract the most from each drop of liquid gold. Switch to Comfort and it does well for your day-to-day commutes. Lastly, the Sport mode comes in handy if you want sharper throttle response, quick steering, and some tyre-squealing action.
In our VBox test figures, the 0-100kmph in the 220i came up in 7.68 seconds. And this was in thoroughly drenched monsoon road conditions. On a good sunny day, we could expect at least 0.75second – if not a whole second – off that time. In the acceleration run, 20-80kmph came up in a fairly quick 4.22 seconds, while 40-100kmph took 5.40 seconds. On the flip side, it manages an overall fuel economy of 8.36kmpl combined (city- 7.62kmpl, highway- 9.75kmpl); not a frugal engine.
Ride and Handling
One thing the UKL underpinnings has benefitted the 2 Series with is ride quality. At slow speeds, the 2 GC remained comfortable absorbing anything and everything we were able to throw its way on the monsoon ravaged roads. Although there’s a lot of suspension noise filtering inside the cabin, it’s more heard than felt. And as the speed increases, the cabin becomes even noisier – instead it’s not the wind noise troubling the ambience but the infuriation tyre noise. This might not be agreeable to some buyers. Riding on 225/45 R17 section tyres, a change of rubber could help reduce the cabin noise we reckon. Out on the highway, it manages to follow the undulations rather than sway over it.
Another likeable thing about the 2 GC is its well-weighted steering. Although it gets a tad lighter in the Eco Pro mode, there’s an option to adjust it to the Comfort/Sport setting easily. So the steering is quick to respond right from the word go and has absolutely no dead zone (play) off-centre. Going less than two-and-half turns lock-to-lock, it’s progressive and is communicative too which is helpful when weaving through traffic. But unlike some expensive BMWs, it doesn’t get the sophisticated adaptive steering. So at triple-digit speeds, the steering needs to be constantly worked and held in place especially when the road surface tends to deter. On the upside, despite having the FWD setup, the torque steer is kept under control and you can throw the 2 around tight corners with ample confidence.
Interior Quality, Space, and Comfort
Getting inside the 2 Series Gran Coupe is a tussle. With low seat and roof height, large seat bolsters and narrow leg space getting in isn’t as graceful as you’d expect. But once inside, everything fits like a glove – especially the snug seats with ample side support, extendable under-thigh support, and electronic lumbar adjustment. Extra brownie points here for offering memory function for driver’s seat. Ergonomically, it is tough to find fault in the 2 Series with accessible controls combined with good visibility, and enough stowage space to store all your knick-knacks. Even the large all-digital driver’s display and slightly-inclined touchscreen instrument cluster are of the newest iteration that BMW has on offer.
If getting in the front seat is a tussle, getting in the second row is an effort. With the roofline dropping sharply at the rear, narrower doors don’t help the case. Moreover, although it looks large from the outside, the 2 GC is usable as a four-seater at best. The rear bench has just about enough headroom for my frame (I am 5.5’) despite the scooped-out roof, making it uncomfortable for taller passengers on longer journeys.
Unfortunately, the middle seat is suitable merely for a child owing to its shorter seat squab and raised centre floor – yet you do get a three-point seatbelt for all three seats. There’s also a large panoramic sunroof that helps in making the cabin feel slightly bigger and airier than it really is. But the smaller glass area at the back might feel stifling to few.
Lastly, the boot capacity of 430 litres is acceptable for a car this size and the cargo space is also fairly square and usable. The 40-20-40 split backrest of the second row can also be pulled flat using the levers provided in the boot.
Features and Safety Equipment
Although the 2 Series is an entry-level BMW, there’s nothing entry-level about its equipment list. We have the M Sport guise with us but features like two-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, BMW’s LED headlamp and tail lamp design, panoramic sunroof, UV-protected glass, ambient lighting, cruise control, and leather upholstery come as standard. Customers can also opt from two choices for the leather upholstery.
Additions to the M Sport trim includes a wireless charger, 10.25-inch all-digital instrument cluster and 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen units, the unique-to-BMW gesture control and a 205W 10-speaker music system.
In terms of safety and driver-assist hardware, the 2 GC offers six airbags, ABS with EBD and brake assist, cornering brake control, DSC and electronic differential lock, TPMS, run-flat tyres, pedestrian protection with the active bonnet, reverse camera with auto-lowering passenger-side ORVM, and ISOFIX child seat mounts.
Unlike the Night Fury, the BMW 2 Series isn’t the last of its kind. BMW is known for carving niche body style and establishing a new segment out of it altogether – case in mind the X6 with its coupe-SUV cult. So, similar to the bigger 8 Series Gran Coupe, the 2 Series Gran Coupe isn’t a coupe since there are four doors. But it flaunts a sloping roofline with frameless doors – like the ones in coupes – confusing right?
Secondly, the 2 GC is handsome yet quirky to look at, and some buyers might want something more traditional like the A-Class Limousine instead. More importantly, even though the 2 Gran Coupe is a well-rounded package, not many would consider it as a practical sedan.
And the knockout blow for the 2 Series Gran Coupe in India is its pricing. This 220i M Sport retails at Rs 50.07 lakh on the road in Mumbai. We expected the pricing to be much more aggressive before it was launched. Meanwhile, the standard 3 Series (bigger and a proper sedan) can be yours at Rs 52.35 lakh (OTR). And if you still want a BMW that’s cheaper, the X1 isn’t a bad choice either – based on the same FWD platform as the 2 GC with a similar powertrain choice, while also offering a higher ground clearance.
However, the BMW 220i isn’t for someone looking for a practical runabout in the luxury space. It’s for those who want their cars to stand out, look contemporary, and make them feel young (or it could either belong to the younger member of the family). And yet be comfortable, safe, and engaging to drive while still delivering the driving fun and striking a smile on your face each time you take it out for a spin.
Pictures by Kapil Angane and Kaustubh Gandhi
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