Sister model to the recently introduced M2 Coupé, the M2 GranCoupé has been conceived to take the challenge to the upcoming Audi RS3 saloon and Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 in what promises to be an intriguing battle for junior performance car supremacy among Germany’s three main premium brands.
Although the BMW’s two main adversaries use transversely mounted engines and four-wheel drive, the M2 GranCoupé will feature a longitudinally mounted engine and rear-wheel drive. BMW’s intention is that this format will help to provide its new M car with more engaging driving traits than its Audi and Mercedes-AMG rivals — a move that has already made the M2 Coupé a big hit among enthusiast drivers.
With the next-generation 3 Series saloon set to grow in size, BMW believes there is sufficient scope within its future line-up to accommodate an additional model riding on its widely used rear-wheeldrive platform, hence the introduction of the 2 Series GranCoupé.
Secrecy surrounds the bodystyle of the new BMW, which is due to be produced alongside the 2 Series Coupé and Cabriolet at the German car maker’s plant in Leipzig. Until recently, senior BMW officials were undecided whether to follow the direction already taken with the 4 Series and 6 Series GranCoupés (a traditional four-door design) or to favour a more radical five-door liftback proposal for the 2 Series GranCoupé.
Insiders close to BMW research and development boss Klaus Fröhlich admit the four-door option would be the best choice for structural rigidity. However, they confirm certain officials are holding out for a liftback format, suggesting it would provide the new BMW with greater practicality than its rivals.
The need to accommodate two conventional front-hinged rear doors and sufficient rear seat leg room is said to be behind the decision to give the new car a wheelbase that is halfway between the 2690mm span of the 2 Series Coupé and the 2810mm of the existing 3 Series saloon.
The 2 Series GranCoupé will sport a new interior layout that is also set to be adopted by the successors to today’s 2 Series Coupé and Cabriolet, which are due in 2020.
The decision to push ahead with the 2 Series GranCoupé follows a decision by BMW chairman Harald Krüger not to offer a front-wheel-drive production version of the Concept Compact Sedan outside of China, at least in the short term. That car, which was revealed at last year’s Guangzhou show, will be built in China in a joint venture with BMW’s partner Brilliance.
The turbocharged three-cylinder and four-cylinder engines for the 2 Series GranCoupé will mirror those of the existing 2 Series Coupé and Cabriolet.
On the petrol side, expect a 134bhp 1.5-litre three-cylinder unit in the 218i GranCoupé, together with 181bhp and 242bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinders in mid-range 220i and 225i GranCoupé models and a 326bhp 3.0-litre six-cylinder in the 235i GranCoupé. Among the diesels will be 148bhp, 187bhp and 221bhp 2.0-litre fourcylinders in 218d, 220d and 225d GranCoupé models.
As with the 2 Series GranCoupé’s two-door sibling, buyers will have a choice of a standard six-speed manual or optional eight-speed torqueconverter automatic gearbox, as well as standard rear-wheel drive or optional xDrive fourwheel drive. However, fourwheel drive will be offered in combination with only a limited range of engines. The highlight of the new lineup, though, will be the M2 GranCoupé.
Set for launch in 2019, the new M car will use the same 365bhp turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder engine as its highly lauded two-door sibling. It will be offered in combination with either a standard six-speed manual or seven-speed dualclutch automatic gearbox.
Although it is still early days, the S55 B30- designated engine is expected to provide the M2 GranCoupé with similar performance to the M2 Coupé, which has an official 0-62mph time of 4.5sec in manual form and a limited 155mph top speed.
A 2 Series GranCoupé plug-in hybrid model is also mooted. It is expected to use BMW’s turbocharged 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine and an electric motor mounted within the forward section of a standard eightspeed automatic gearbox.
In combination with a lithium ion battery pack positioned within the floor of the boot, this is intended to provide the new 225e GranCoupé with an electric range of up to 31 miles.