Not everybody needs an SUV with huge space, huge presence and huge bills. Some people want a car that will carry them and their significant other from here to there – and look fabulous while doing so. So two doors are just fine, as is space for a couple and their luggage, and enough performance to keep life interesting. Obviously, without sky-high running costs. All of which brings us directly to the BMW 2-Series Coupé. A fun drive for young (or old) couples looking to arrive at their romantic getaway in style.
The immediate predecessor to the 2-Series was the 1-Series Coupé, which actually ended up looking a little upright and dumpy. Not so with the 2-Series, which looks longer, lower, wider and more purposeful. From the wide headlights backwards, this coupe has a decidedly premium look to it, with the odd touch of chrome on the luxury-orientated trims, and extra dashes of black trim on sportier versions.
All cars get comparatively large-diameter alloy wheels that fill the wheel arches and help avoid the 2-Series Coupé looking like it’s rolling along on castors.
You won’t find any brash bodywork wings and skirts on a 2-Series. Sportier trim levels do get more purposely sculpted front and rear bumpers. SE cars have a softer appearance designed to convey subtle classiness. It definitely treads its own path, whereas rivals such as the Audi TT are more overtly stylish, and the Toyota GT86 is more aggressive.
This coupe has a decidedly premium look to it.
What’s it like to drive?
Even with the entry-level 1.5-litre petrol engine, the 2-Series is a nippy and entertaining car to drive. That said, the turbocharged 3.0-litre M235i and later M240i models is something to behold, because the sheer pace would give many sports car owners plenty to worry about. And they sound sensational.
If you want looks and brisk pace with super-low running costs, the 218d diesel makes a fine choice. Bear in mind that the diesels are slightly louder than the petrols, and don’t sound as good. All 2-Series Coupés feel delightfully nimble, because it changes direction smoothly, and the steering is beautifully direct.
The ride quality is perfectly comfortable on the smaller-diameter alloy wheels. If you want an example with bigger rims it’s worth seeking one with the adaptive suspension, which smooths the ride but keeps the body under tight control.
The 2-Series is a nippy and entertaining car to drive.
All 2-Series Coupés feel far more expensive than their price tags would have you believe. All of the items you touch on a daily basis - be it the steering wheel, gear lever, door pulls, buttons or indicator stalks - feel genuinely plush and operate with a smooth, consistent weight.
On top of that, the dashboard itself feels squidgy and supple on the top and is fronted by high-quality plastic and aluminium trims.
The seats - even in entry-level models - are as supportive as your best friend. You’ll have to adjust them by pulling levers and moving your body weight. If you can find an example on which the original owners has added electrical adjustment, so much the better.
All versions of the 2-Series Coupé are well-kitted out. For example, the SE models come with DAB radio, Bluetooth, LED headlights, 17-inch alloy wheels, BMW’s brilliant iDrive infotainment system complete with satellite navigation, and rear parking sensors. Not a bad roster at all.
As you move up the range, climate control becomes available, then dual-zone climate, plus larger alloy wheels. BMW also offers options such as an internet connection, voice control and an upgraded Harman Kardon audio system, so it can be worth checking to see if the car you’re looking at has these.
You don’t buy a coupé for its practicality. Nevertheless, the BMW 2-Series is better than most in this regard.
Up front, there’s a genuinely vast amount of space available, and getting into and out of it is made easier by the fact the doors are quite large. Beware though, that large doors can make access tricky in narrow car park spaces.
Further back, there’s just enough space for two - anyone taller than six feet is likely to find things a touch snug. Also, getting into the back obviously requires a bit more contortion that it would in a car with four doors.
Running costs and reliability
If you simply want to look fabulous with the lowest running costs, the 218d model is the way to go. It has an official average economy figure of more than 60mpg.
The 218i petrol model is a truly sweet option, as it blends a real zinginess with more than 52mpg. Of course, the M235i and M240i versions will leave every other version for dead in a straight line - you’ll just have to endure economy figures in the mid-30s.
What we love
It’s simple, the BMW 2-Series Coupé does pretty much what every coupé buyer is after. For a start it looks great while managing to avoid brashness. It’s also more than roomy enough for two and can take four at a pinch.
No matter where you’re going and how clogged the roads are, every drive in a 2-Series Coupé will feel like an event. When you’re sitting still, you can take a moment to look around the cabin and appreciate just how well made, high tech and beautiful it is. And all of those feelings will be enhanced every time you drive past yet another fuel station.
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