BMW’s claim that the new 2 Series Coupé occupies a “defiantly niche position” in the brand’s portfolio might make fans of the brilliant original model nervous. After all, global car giants in the business of selling as many cars as possible don’t tend to focus resources on small niches.
In this case, “defiantly niche” means that after the 1 Series hatchback switched to a front-driven platform (also used by the 2 Series Gran Coupé), the 2 Series Coupé is the sole compact BMW left with rear-wheel drive. That sounds like a recipe for a lack of investment, given that the car’s sales will be dwarfed by every one of the roughly 374 different SUVs that BMW now sells. But in reality, it has served as a liberation.
With the link to the 1 Series it was originally spun out of (replacing the 1 Series Coupé) now broken, the 2 Series Coupé sits on an adapted version of the CLAR platform used by the 3 Series and 4 Series. That means it retains a rear-drive layout and allows for BMW’s 3.0-litre straight six tobe used in performance versions. According to the 2 Series Coupé’s engineers, both of those were non-negotiable musts.
That’s just one example of how the 2 Series Coupé feels like a car that has been made by enthusiasts for enthusiasts. Which makes sense, given that the bulk of the original model sales were of the hot M240i and fiery M2 variants. The new 2 Series Coupé will be launched in the UK early next year, in three guises: the 220i petrol (£34,980), the 220d diesel (£36,900) and the four-wheel-drive M240i xDrive driven here (£45,795). The M Performance model uses a version of the straight six tuned for 369bhp – a hefty increase on its predecessor – and will serve as the range-topper until the new M2 arrives in 2023.