Review: BMW 2 Series

One of the most practical small coupés on the market

04 Jul 16 Tim Barnes-Clay

Pros

  • Exciting to drive

  • Comfortable

  • Reliable

Cons

  • Rear tyre wear

  • Loud diesels

  • Not fuel efficient

Our expert rating

The BMW 2 Series is a relatively new car, having come along in 2014 to replace the older 1 Series Coupe. It is, in essence, a slinkier version of the BMW 1 Series hatchback. It’s also available as a convertible, though it doesn’t drive as well as the coupe.

Don’t be confused by the 2 Series ‘Active Tourer’ as this is a family car that shares the name only. Made in Leipzig, Germany, the 2 Series Coupe can be considered the most affordable sports car in the BMW range.

Performance

As with all sporty BMWs, the 2 Series is a car for those who really love to drive. There are a few engines to choose from, but the pick of the bunch is undoubtedly the 3.0-litre, six-cylinder turbo engine found in the ‘M235i’ model.

Outside of BMW 2 series

It produces a hefty amount of power and a stirring soundtrack, which is bound to thrill. It’s the best engine in the line-up, but for all that performance you have to make some sacrifices. Fuel efficiency is not particularly great in this car, but the 34.9mpg quoted is good for a machine with such a powerful engine.

Higher CO2 emissions mean the M235i will cost £265 a year in VED tax. There are some diesel models available; all of them use the 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine that has been enormously popular across the BMW range and comes in different states of tune.

It’s efficient and smooth but it doesn’t suit the character of this small coupe, and it’s a bit too loud when driven hard. It’s worth pointing out that, although the standard six speed manual gearbox is fun and more involving, the eight-speed automatic gearbox is excellent and considered one of the best on the market.

Ride and handling

Fast BMWs are famed for their handling just as much as their clout. The BMW 2 Series is a perfect example of the fine balance between power and usability. This provides a balanced feel to the handling of the car, and a pushing sensation from the tail when accelerating.

Engine of BMW 2 series

Through corners, it has an abundance of grip and lots of feedback is given to the driver, even to the point where fairly small changes in the texture of the road surface can be felt in the steering wheel.

It consistently feels tight and settled on the road, and this fills the driver with confidence – which is very important in such a powerful car. Impressively, the 2 Series also manages to be comfortable, despite that firm, sporty set up.

It can soak up cracks in the roads without ever feeling shaky or unsettled, and on the motorways it’s a perfectly adequate cruiser, especially when kitted-out with the optional eight-speed automatic gearbox.

Some cars may be fitted with adjustable suspension, allowing drivers to press a button to make the BMW feel firmer or softer, depending on their mood.

Interior space

BMW makes some lovely interiors and the 2 Series has the usual treatment. There are plenty of soft touch materials and solid, well made and nicely positioned buttons to operate all the controls. Seating is supportive and there’s a lot more adjustability than in some of the rivals.

It’s easy to get settled and comfortable, no matter your shape and size. The central infotainment system that controls the function of the car is called ‘iDrive’ and is very user friendly, providing plenty of information in easy to navigate menus.

It’s also one of the most practical small coupes on the market, with 390 litres of boot space available. This is a good sized space for a couple of small suitcases or for carrying sports equipment.

 

interior dashboard of BMW 2 series

What to know before you buy

BMW has a good reputation for reliability and customer satisfaction, but as the 2 Series Coupe - especially the M235i – is a performance vehicle, you need to make sure it’s in top condition.

The safest option would be to buy from the BMW approved used scheme, but if not, make sure you check that the gearbox changes smoothly and the brakes feel sharp. Being rear-wheel driven, the back tyres will wear out much quicker than the front ones.

Alternative cars

The 2 Series’ main adversaries are other sports cars. Toyota’s GT86 provides the closest competition in terms of an engaging driving experience, but it’s nowhere near as quick and doesn’t have the same luxury feel.

The Audi TT is pretty and comfortable but doesn’t drive as well as either the Toyota or the 2 Series, and though the Porsche Cayman is arguably the most complete sports car in this sector, it’s also in another league when it comes to price.

BMW 2 series alternative car Audi TT

Overall verdict

A compelling and exciting sports car in its most powerful form - the M235i - and a softer, more sensible cruiser in its diesel forms. The BMW 2 Series is an excellent car and easily one of the best in its sector.

It’s both a motor that passionate drivers can enjoy getting to grips with, and a comfortable coupe for weekends away.

Expert rating

Performance

Reliability

Space & comfort

Running costs

Value for money

Overall