Thus far, we’ve been mightily impressed with the BMW 2 Series. Hiving off the coupé from its hatchback brethren may have looked like a pretty pointless marketing idea, but the result is a pithy and potent two-door machine that, at its best, has proven more than a little reminiscent of the classic BMW compacts that helped make it famous.
BMW’s long history of three-box coupés includes plenty of cabriolets – both the 1600-2 and the 2002 spawned limited-production versions before the E21 generation and E30 made them volume editions – and it’s with a soft-top derivative that the 2 Series range now grows again.
BMW claims its predecessor, the 1 Series, was the most popular car in its class globally. Making that assertion probably required some careful squinting at what it felt qualified as a rival because, by our estimation, the 2 Series must now fend off everything from tediously beheaded hatchbacks (think Renault Mégane CC) and mainstream sun loungers (Vauxhall Cascada) to genuinely sporty options such as the Audi TT Roadster and Mercedes-Benz SLC .
It is equipped to do this by virtue of one of BMW’s typically fulsome engine line-ups. Right now, for under £30k, there is the choice of 2.0-litre petrol or diesel engines in the shape of the 218i, 220i, 218d and 220d respectively. For a little more, there’s the 248bhp 230i, or 222bhp 225d which all use a turbocharged four-cylinder motor.
Or if you prefer your rag-top BMW with a straight six, the range-topping M240i is available for less than what you’d pay for an entry-level Porsche 718 Boxster. At the other end of the scale, the three-cylinder, 134bhp, £26k 218i SE props up the range.
Our test subject is the 220d. It should be one of the most popular variants and also gives us our first chance to run the road test ruler over BMW’s latest four-cylinder diesel engine.