FOR an entry-level debut, the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe is quite the complete package.
Small, sharp and shapely, the four-door newbie is packed with features that will woo fresh interest in the brand and pique the curiosity of existing customers.
From the way it unlocks as you approach it, to the feel in the cabin and the way it drives, this is a return to some of the more memorable BMW drives, except with way more technology onboard.
The 218i models are equipped with a turbocharged, inline 3-cylinder engine that delivers an impressive enough tone when powered up. Devoid of the rattle evident in some of its brethren, this 1.5L variant delivers 103kW of juice which translates into a reasonable response on the move, via a 7-speed Steptronic dual-clutch transmission.
Taking under 9 seconds to hit 100kmh, it then stretches its legs to hit a top speed of 215kmh. Not insanely fast by any means, but you do enjoy the ride on offer.
The journey could be a tad bumpy on the M Sport suspension, reviewed here, which rides 10mm lower than the standard suspension on the Luxury model. But, it’s still generally smooth with the engine making enough appropriate noises to keep you informed of what’s goin on.
Easy to poke around corners accurately, the front-wheel driven 2GC makes for a lively drive.
The auto start/stop function can be a bit jarring when it kicks in, but that’s easily sorted out by switching it off at the start of your journey.
For a relatively small engine, the energy of the drive makes a big difference. It’s fun, it’s engaging and it’s assured. After years of turning out efficient albeit somewhat over polished cars, the 2GC brings back some of the pep that’s been missing. A turbocharged smaller petrol engine still has emotional appeal.
This is the smallest Gran Coupe, aimed at a market that wants affordability (by luxe standards), four doors and an enjoyable drive.
For an entry model the 218i GC is packed to almost overflowing with the latest features, for its price tag — around $170K*.
It has two keys as well as a key card that can be used to unlock, lock and start the car. The BMW Digital Key employs Near Field Communication (NFC) technology to perform these actions as well. There is a kick-open function to access the spacious boot.
It has Reversing Assistant to help you retrace your route for up to 50m, at a maximum speed of 9kmh. Always handy if you’re in a narrow dead end street.
While it looks small, it is sharp. The lines on the bonnet, with the angled LED lights pointing towards the big kidney grille, deliver loads of design flash.
Duck in through the frameless doors, and into a cabin that is snug but not cramped, even at the back. The leather seats are comfortable with a hint of blue from the Trigon/Sensatec (a synthetic leather material not made from animal hide) covers. The purist can plonk down $7K and get all-leather seats, but then you’d have to wait some weeks for delivery.
The dashboard is a mix of metal and plastic textures, including some stitching, which helps break any design monotony that might set in. And the backlit trim strips can be lit up in a number of colours, to suit your mood.
The two, 10.25” screens provide a sweeping panorama of information for the driver. No longer an afterthought with a display speared into the dashboard, this sleeker configuration is powered by the new BMW OS 7.0 and offers useful functionality in terms of connectivity with your smart device, multimedia, navigation, a controller, a touchpad, wireless charging, and you could add on gesture control and a head up display.
There are also buttons to stab at, but you could probably achieve all that you need from your multi-function steering wheel.
The 2GC is equipped to keep you safe on the road, with lane departure and blind spot warning, as well as potential collision alerts.
It will even parallel park for you.
If your journey is about the ride, the 2GC makes for good company.