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Is BMW’s new 2 Series Gran Coupe a multiplier?

S.Muralidhar | Updated on May 07, 2020 Published on May 07, 2020

A lot of digital tech has been loaded into the new model

The boot lid with raised lip, elongated tail-lamps and twin exhaust tail-pipes lend a lot of character to the rear   -  Tom Kirkpatrick

Set to debut in India later this year, will this global new model replicate the success of its bigger counterparts?

Embargoes are a pain almost always. But, for once, it is not something I’m complaining about. After having driven the new BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe in and around Lisbon, Portugal in February this year, the embargo on reviews was lifted over the weekend. And we can now express our opinions about how this entry-level luxury coupe from Munich feels like. Of course, having been stuck indoors now for six weeks after the subsequent lockdown, means surely you can expect a fair bit of nostalgia thrown into the mix of this first impression.

The new 2 Series Gran Coupe is set to join the existing bigger Gran Coupes from the German brand - the most successful of them being the 6 Series Gran Coupe. The new 8 Series is also due to be unveiled this weekend. BMW’s ‘evens’ may have seemed a bit odd initially. But over the last few years and with more even-numbered series joining the ranks, the product and market strategy has become clear and stands vindicated if you look at the sales numbers. BMW’s even-numbered SUVs and sedans were born different. With their crossover, coupe-like body styles, they are designed to be ultra-modern and target Outliers amongst buyers. They share platforms and architecture with their counterparts in the Odd-numbered series. So, the X5 and X6 are related, as are the 3 Series and the 4 Series Gran Coupe.

Design

The new 2 Series Gran Coupe has been designed to appeal to buyers who are bored of the hatchback body style. For younger buyers living in crowded metropolises and looking for alternatives in the entry-segment, here is one more option. A compact, low slung, sporty-looking Gran Coupe with BMW genes and design cues that have been heavily borrowed from the bigger siblings seems like a potent mix. At about 4.5 metres, this is a compact; though BMW says that the wheelbase of 2,670mm enables it to offer better room than the Coupe.

The design is the familiar BMW Gran Coupe style with the sloping roofline, and the four frameless doors add to the appeal. Headroom is lesser at the rear, typical of 4-door coupes, but the boot offers a decent 430-litres of luggage space. So, this is not really an impractical coupe. There is a lot of Gran Coupe influence that the 2 Series iteration gets from its existing siblings.

And that is both a positive and, in places, a negative too. The dramatic roofline with the steeply raked C-pillar and the stubby boot lid add to the flavour of the Gran Coupe much like the 6 Series and 4 Series Gran Coupes. But the elongated bonnet with the 3-dimensional kidney grille don’t come together to give it a sharper, sleeker front; something you expect in a coupe.

It still has a lot of character thanks to those standard LED headlamps (adaptive lights optional) and the single-frame, proportionally sized kidney grille. The boot lid with its raised lip, the slim, elongated tail-lamps and twin exhaust tail-pipes lend a lot of character to the rear too. Interesting to see how much Gran Coupe character gets delivered simply by the silhouette; the long window graphic and the extended shoulder line cutting well into the rear. The overall design is still very aerodynamic and glamorous.

Interior

The 2 Series Gran Coupe’s cabin has all the BMW trademarks, and though it borrows heavily from the 1 Series, there are special elements and much more digital tech that has been loaded into the new model. The quality of the materials used in the cabin are a mix, but the overall touch and feel is excellent for the entry segment.

When I got behind the wheel, the driver-focused layout that is typical of BMWs was heartening to see. There are backlit trim strips and a surfeit of digital screens offering a mix of information give the cabin a fairly premium and hi-tech ambience. With a transverse-mounted engine and the absence of a transmission tunnel, there is more room at the front between the driver and passenger. Rear headroom is tight, though kneeroom is said to be 33mm more than in the 2-door coupe version. The fairly large greenhouse with addition of the optional panoramic sunroof makes it a well-lit cabin.

There are a lot of the digital display and assistance systems that are optional additions. But my test mule featured connected navigation and a head-up display, a twin 10.25-inch screens for live cockpit and infotainment system with gesture control and embedded with the new BMW Operating System 7.0. There is also the option of using your smartphone as a digital key.

A long list of driver assistance systems are available. And the iDrive controller continues to be offered, so even for lower trim variants, without some of the newer tech features, navigating through the options will still be easy.

Performance

The new 2 Series Gran Coupe shares its front-wheel drive architecture with the new 1 Series (the hatchback that BMW India sold here for a brief while a few years ago).

Inherently, the architecture is not meant for elevated levels of performance. But smartly, BMW engineers have deployed tech such as the ARB (I suppose in German that is near-actuator wheel slip limitation) as standard on all trim variants to prevent understeer that is typical for front wheel drive cars. The tech, which was originally featured in BMW’s i3, its entry electric vehicle, controls wheel slip by quick and sensitive intervention and combines yaw movement distribution to increase braking of inner wheels while cornering.

At the time of launch the flagship variant of the model series will be the M235i xDrive, which offers all-wheel drive with the help of a mechanical Torsten limited slip differential at the front axle (integrated into the transmission).

The powertrain options in the new entry Gran Coupe includes a three-pot petrol for the 218i that produces 140hp, a 4-cylinder diesel for the 220d that delivers 190hp and the range-topping M235i xDrive featuring the brand’s most powerful 4-cylinder petrol engine producing 306hp (0 to 100kmph is 4.9 seconds and top speed is 250kmph).

I chose the 220d and the M235i as my mules for the day during the test drive. The transmissions in both cases was the 8-speed steptronic with connected tech to automatically adapt shift strategy based on the route and driving situation (needs active cruise control with route-ahead assistant).

Expectedly, the 220d didn’t feel overly exciting to drive. The 2-litre diesel engine’s noise level is remarkably low and the cabin isolation is excellent. With its peak torque of 400Nm available in the low rpm band between 1,750-2,500rpm, the 220d is great for short bursts in the city and the narrow roads leading up to Cascais.

But it doesn’t have the grunt and top-end that the M235i can deliver a fair serving of. All engines meet the new Euro 6d emission norms; should meet the BS 6 norms here too. The 220d’s improved turbocharger and common rail injection system combined with its new SCR (selective catalytic reduction) tech helps increase fuel efficiency too.

The M235i’s brand new 2-litre petrol engine is the one to buy if you are considering this entry Gran Coupe. With its much more direct ratio, the M Sport steering in the M235i offers very good response and a considerable amount of feedback too. With the M Sport brakes and sportier suspension set up also combine to give me the confidence to attempt quick on road manoeuvres (within legal speed limits, of course) that I possibly wouldn’t have attempted in the 220d.

Bottom Line

Multiple-link rear suspension is standard, but M Sport or adaptive suspension with variable damper control can be opted for as additions. The M235i also gets launch control with peak torque of 450Nm being available in the first and second gears. In fact, depending on the trim variant, the 2 Series Gran Coupe gets a fair bit of equipment and new age cabin tech ranging from voice assistant to wireless charging and adaptive cruise control to lane keeping assist.

The new 2 Series Gran coupe will make it by September this year (unless the lockdown pushes its launch date). This is a smart, modern, head-turning alternative to a conventional sedan. So if you are going to be in the market for a 3 Series (for example), the 2 Series Gran Coupe may be the snazzier alternative.

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Published on May 07, 2020
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