Right. Here’s today’s homework. How many model variations are in the BMW range? Before you reach for Google, have a guess at the number.
You’ll probably go from 1 Series to 8 Series; you’ll discover small hatchbacks, saloons of all sizes, two-door coupés, four-door coupés (aka Gran Coupés), convertibles, estates (Touring in BMW lingo), five- and seven-seat MPVs (these are called Active Tourer and Grand Tourer), SUVs (the X range), bigger five-door hatchbacks (Gran Turismo) and there’s the electric i range and Z4 Sports car.
After that, you can work through the various trim levels, M Sport models and, of course, petrol or diesel.
And that’s before you come to selecting a colour.
To save you the bother, we had a quick flick through the list and got bored when we reached 392.
So, why have such a massive range?
Simple: BMW not only likes to have something for everyone, it also wants to give owners the option to migrate up and down the range. For example, you may need a family-sized Beemer, but once you’ve got shot of the kids, you might decide to move onto a coupé or convertible. You may have started with a small hatchback but then move out to the sticks and want a 4x4.
The latest of the body styles is the Gran Coupé – and the most recent version to hit UK streets is the 2 Series Gran Coupé. It’s basically a 1 Series that is available as a four-door coupé with a sloping lower roofline and a boot. You also get a new-look front grille, different headlights and completely different rear styling.
It’s being launched because BMW is seeing more downsizing. It wants to offer a premium, small compact but with a four-door coupé body. It’s a smart-looking thing and, although based on the 1 Series, feels almost as roomy as the 3 Series inside. The additional space is gained because under the bonnet you will find a rarity: a transverse, front-wheel drive engine and transmission. BMW purists needed smelling salts when the 1 Series was launched, but it confounded the critics by still being a really sweet car to drive.
So, bearing in mind that the 2 Series has the same oily bits, this Gran Coupé is also hugely enjoyable to punt around.
At the moment, there are three versions: the 218i (from £25,815), 220d (from £31,355), and 235i (from £37,255). The 235i gets xDrive all-wheel drive as standard. It needs the additional traction, too, because the 2.0-litre petrol engine chucks out 306hp. It sounds good, too. The 218i, powered by a three-cylinder 1.5-litre petrol engine, develops 140hp while the 220d with a 2.0-litre diesel engine ups the ante to 190hp. The 218i gets a six-speed manual ’box as standard while the other two have an eight-speed auto.
What does that mean in terms of performance and economy?
The 218i is going to be the biggest seller in the UK. Zero-60mph takes 8.7 seconds; top speed is 140mph, and boasts a fuel return of 47.1mpg. It’s a good all-rounder.
If you intend on racking up the miles, go for the 220d which stretches economy to 57mpg. It’s also quicker than the 218i with 0-60mph dropping to 7.5 seconds.
BMW purists needed smelling salts when the 1 Series was launched, but it confounded the critics by still being a really sweet car
The pick of the range if you want to make this 2 Series Gran Coupé into a long-distance express, is the M235i xDrive. It’s quick, with 0-60mph taking just 4.9 seconds, but you’ll suffer at the pumps with only 37.2mpg. Whereas the other two models are available with standard or Sport suspension, the M235i gets adaptive suspension. It’s good and gives you the option of a cushy or sporty ride. Having said that, the other two have slightly softer dampers than the 1 Series which means the ride is never harsh.
There are three trim variants: Sport, M Sport and M Performance, which is reserved for the M235i xDrive model. Needless to say that build quality is superb. You also get a stack of safety kit included as standard across the range. There’s a great touchscreen which controls just about everything, but thankfully there’s also the BMW iDrive – a wheel behind the gear lever ,which you use to scroll through items on the touchscreen. Why every other manufacturer hasn’t nicked this idea is beyond me.
I shan’t bother listing all of the goodies other than to say that you get sat nav, air con and parking assistance.
It’s interesting that BMW really is trying to give buyers as many options as possible. The BMW 1 Series on which this Gran Coupé is largely based in terms of the mechanical gubbins, is almost exactly the same price if you go for the same engine and trim levels. So, it’s a case of do you prefer a hatchback or a swoopy coupé saloon. The BMW 2 Series Gran Coupé has a slightly better ride but, because of the sloping roofline, there’s less height in the rear seats for passengers. Apart from that it really does come down to a personal preference in terms of styling. You pays your money… you takes your choice.
To see more, see bmw.co.uk