When BMW introduced the 4 Series Coupe, it sent a shiver of excitement through the hearts and bellies of petrolheads who remember how much of a hoot its predecessor, the 3 Series Coupe, is to drive. But the excitement was short-lived, for the enthusiasts who expected thrills and spills found themselves in an oasis of calm, instead. The 4 Series (especially in 435i guise) is certainly quick, but it’s so refined that it is basically a junior version of the 6 Series grand tourer.
Indeed, BMW stated that they wanted the 4 Series to be more “grown-up” than its predecessor. Obviously, there’s nothing wrong with this, but those who were hoping for a soul-stirring drive were definitely disappointed.
Thankfully, these passionate souls can still get their pulses racing now that the 2 Series Coupe is in town. The 2 Series is not just the notchback version of the 1 Series hatchback, it’s also the successor to the previous 1 Series Coupe.
Visually, however, the 2 Series does not resemble the 1 Series. Its eye-catching style features slimmer headlights (as opposed to the oversized headlamps of the 1 Series) and curvier kidney grilles as well. Despite having the same 2690mm wheelbase as the 1 Series, the 2 Series’ body looks better-proportioned because of the boot.
But enter the cabin and you’ll find that the interior is carried over unchanged from the 1 Series. This is okay, though, since the ergonomics is sound. The driving position is spot-on, the controls fall neatly to hand and the dashboard is angled towards the driver.
Access to the backseat, however, is quite inconvenient, since this requires (ideally petite) passengers to squeeze themselves in. But the space back there is roomy enough to accommodate occupants up to 1.8m tall, thanks partly to the curved ceiling portion above the rear headrests that provides a few extra centimetres of clearance.
Catering to the driver in the 220i tested here is a turbocharged 2-litre engine. It’s nowhere as powerful as the 3-litre turbo straight-6 of the hotter M235i (which we reviewed in the story prior), but frankly, the 184bhp and 270Nm pumped out by the 220i is more than adequate for Singapore roads. And because the torque figure is available over a wide rpm range (from 1250rpm to 4500rpm, to be exact), the motor always feels wonderfully tractable.
Helping the driver to exploit the engine’s powerband is ZF’s 8-speed automatic transmission, which offers a responsive manual override function. But while chasing the powerplant’s redline is fun, there’s unfortunately not much of a soundtrack to go along with the performance. The engine is quiet at low revs, and only emits a droning note when revved hard. BMW claims a century sprint time of seven seconds (using the launch control feature), and it’s believable.
What’s really delightful is this car’s dart-like handling. Flick the steering wheel and the 220i changes direction in a snappy manner – the very behaviour you might expect the 420i to exhibit. Tuck the 220i into a bend and the nose always complies. This compact coupe with perfect 50:50 weight distribution just feels so nimble.
The dampers offer a nice balance between good handling and good comfort, and there’s barely any understeer. If you like, you can induce oversteer by nailing the throttle while negotiating a turn, although given how many motorists today have in-car cameras, it would be better to save such antics for a track day instead.
Like the other current BMW models, the 2 Series also comes with Driving Experience Control as standard. Using the rocker switch beside the gearshift lever, drivers can modify the powertrain, throttle and steering characteristics by choosing one of four modes (Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport and Sport+). In my experience, Sport mode felt the most optimal, and it even allowed me to average 9.3km per litre over four days of spirited driving.
BMW has done a lot of things right with the 2 Series. But the best thing about it, really, is that unlike the 4 Series, this little coupe does not feel like a downsized version of a bigger car.
TYPE Inline-4, 16-valves, turbocharged
BORE X STROKE 84mm x 90.1mm
COMPRESSION RATIO 11:1
MAX POWER 184bhp at 5000-6250rpm
MAX TORQUE 270Nm at 1250-4500rpm
POWER TO WEIGHT 127.8bhp per tonne
GEARBOX 8-speed automatic
with manual select
DRIVEN WHEELS Rear
0-100KM/H 7 seconds
TOP SPEED 230km/h
CONSUMPTION 16.7km/L (combined)
CO2 EMISSION 139g/km
FRONT MacPherson struts, coil springs, anti-roll bar
REAR Multi-link, coil springs
FRONT / REAR Ventilated discs / Discs
TYPE Bridgestone Potenza S001
SIZE 225/45 R17
TRACTION CONTROL ABS with DSC
KERB WEIGHT 1440kg
TURNING CIRCLE 10.9m
PRICE INCL. COE $199,800 (after $10k CEVS rebate)
WARRANTY 3 years/100,000km
+ Crisp handling, accurate steering, linear power delivery
– Tight and stiff rear seats, disappointingly dull engine note
It feels like a standalone model, with its own brand of driver’s appeal.