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A 2.0-litre diesel engine sits at the centre of the Gran Coupe line-up, but it does little to make the baby 2 Series stand out

What is it?

It’s fair to say our early impressions of the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupé haven’t been entirely positive. The 1 Series with a boot, frameless doors and a faster profile is fresh from a three-star road test rating, coming across as a car more to fill a gap in a model range to try and cover the stylish Mercedes-Benz CLA than a car that really feels like BMW has poured its heart and soul into it.

That road test was of the entry-level three-cylinder 218i model, but now we turn our attention to the sole diesel offering, the 220d. The range is crowned by a four-wheel-drive M235i model.

In the 220d, power comes from the same 187bhp, 295lb ft 2.0-litre diesel used in the larger 320d. It’s excellent in that car and here is paired to the same eight-speed automatic transmission as in the 320d as standard. But the key difference lies in which wheels are powered: in the 3 Series, it’s the rears, and in the 2 Series Gran Coupé, it’s the fronts.

What's it like?

One of the biggest shortcomings of the 218i version of the 2 Series Gran Coupé was the lack of performance, which this diesel version goes a long way to resolving. Acceleration is brisk and effortless both off the line and when up to speed, even if it’s delivered a little more noisily than in the 320d. Noisily, but just as smoothly through the automatic transmission, and all while capable of offering fuel economy approaching 50mpg on a longer run.

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So under the bonnet, the 2 Series Gran Coupé is much improved. Yet given that the only other engine offered is the 300bhp-plus 2.0-litre turbo petrol in the M235i, making the sweet spot of your new compact saloon range a 2.0-lite diesel feels an unusual decision to make on an all-new model as the electrification era gathers pace.

The diesel engine can’t do much to right the 2 Series Gran Coupé’s tepid dynamics. There are no major shortcomings - it rides well, handles tidily enough, and steers with competence - but it goes about its business in bringing all those things together with so little flair or connection to the driver, something that becomes more apparent the harder you push.

You really could be in anything from the mass market, not a so-called sporty BMW saloon. An opportunity well and truly missed, whether it’s the front or rears that are driven.  

There’s still plenty of good in the 2 Series Gran Coupé, mind, whichever engine you go for. The interior does a good impression of a larger 3 Series, in looks, perceived quality and the level of technology and connectivity on offer.

The driving position is also excellent, as is the car’s long-distance manners. It’s quiet and comfortable on longer drives, where the lack of handling flair isn’t important. Just try and avoid sitting in the back or putting too much in the boot, because the 2 Series Gran Coupé’s faster-looking profile means space here has to give.

Should I buy one?

While improved over the 218i, the 220d only really throws more shade and confusion on this most strange of BMW models. It highlights just how small the engine line-up is: there’s a gutless triple or a full-blown hot hatch-style drivetrain on the petrol side, and then a 2.0-litre diesel in the middle. 

Making the diesel a sweet spot of the range in a car unlikely to be near the top of any company car lists (you’d just get the 1 Series or the 3 Series), and an even dirtier word among private buyers, is a bit of an odd one. And it’s not as though the rest of the car is brilliant to make such a problem fade into the background.

The curious world of the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupé has just become even stranger. Perhaps a hybrid can save it.

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BMW 220d Gran Coupé specification

Where Berkshire Price £33,565 On sale Now Engine 4 cyls, 1995cc, turbo, diesel Power 187bhp at 4000rpm Torque 295lb ft at 1750-2500rpm Gearbox 8-spd automatic Kerb weight 1580kg Top speed 146mph 0-62mph 7.5sec Fuel economy 55.4mpg CO2 134g/km Rivals Mercedes-Benz CLA 220d, Audi A3 saloon TDI

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Comments
14

16 June 2020

This must indeed be a terrible car. Alternatively the reviewer just didn't like it, ignoring the fact that it seems to be a brisk, comfortable, economical car that's probably very satisfying to own. Perhaps if it was rear wheel drive and slightly tail happy all would be forgiven?

16 June 2020

B M W once a brand to aspire to ,even had one my self mind that was a bad mistake terrible reliabilty dreadful seats I replaced them with two patio blocks ! .  back end was far too lively. Any way this B M W being tested here is a an utterly awful car looks dreadful especially that worse than HONDA Civic rear end. Cheap looking interior  what are BMW thinking why is this car needed with so many negatives its surely was the same one that the top brass passed for production which says all about the current lot at BMW. SO my question to BMW UK what is the point of this absolutely pointless car ?

16 June 2020

A BMW that's boring to drive and this ugly? What a shame. They've really lost their way.

16 June 2020

What an ugly car! The side view could be an Hyundai. Where's the "Hofmeister Knick" gone? BMW's used to be very attractive sports saloons, now they are just plain ugly. Maybe they gave the job of styling this car to the design "B" team, whilst the "A" team are working on a top secret project that will re-introduce all the past glory values that BMW used to have.

16 June 2020
I'd rather have an i30 fastback which says both how high Hyundai have risen and how far BMW have fallen.

And just to be picky, since this is transverse engined and fwd, it can't possibly have 'the same' 8 speed automatic gearbox as the longitudinal and rwd 3 series. They may both have 8 speeds, but that's about it.

16 June 2020
jameshobiecat wrote:

I'd rather have an i30 fastback which says both how high Hyundai have risen and how far BMW have fallen. And just to be picky, since this is transverse engined and fwd, it can't possibly have 'the same' 8 speed automatic gearbox as the longitudinal and rwd 3 series. They may both have 8 speeds, but that's about it.

 

you must be insane if you think the south korean i30 turd is anywhere near the quality of this car

16 June 2020

And after a spectacular failure of autocar to explain why this car does not have "flair" even though it is 110% identical in all its mechanical bits to the hatchbck failure, we address the true reason behind the three-star rating: Because it was mainly aimed at the Chinese market. And this, for autocar, is a big sin. Autocar should much better address their own complexes, the true reason behind the recent 3,5 star ratings of the Porsche Cayene and the BMW M8 Competition, otherwise it won't even have virtual readers, let alone ones actually bothering to pay to buy its magazine.

16 June 2020
FuelRatio wrote:

And after a spectacular failure of autocar to explain why this car does not have "flair" even though it is 110% identical in all its mechanical bits to the hatchback, we address the true reason behind the three-star rating: Because it was mainly aimed at the Chinese market. And this, for autocar, is a big sin. Autocar should much better address their own complexes, the true reason behind the recent 3,5 star ratings of the Porsche Cayene and the BMW M8 Competition, otherwise it won't even have virtual readers, let alone ones actually bothering to pay to buy its magazine.

16 June 2020

a tester has said and thats its very prone to understeer and if you close your eyes you could be driving an Audi, make of that what you will, but ultimate driving machine it isnt.

16 June 2020

It is an unremarkable BMW (and yes, I have driven it) but a nice enough car overall with a very nice interior. The 218 is fast enough and agile round town, but it's appeal fades on the open road where it soon runs out of driver involvement.

Looks are personal taste, but I think it looks better in the metal than in pictures and nice enough overall, like a shrunken 4series GT.

For me though, the biggest downside is tight access to a cramped and gloomy rear cabin and limited boot space.

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