Small, powerful and rear-wheel-drive with 50:50 weight distribution and a world premiere at Goodwood. Is there anything not to like here? Break open your piggy banks then for what just might be a sporting classic from BMW.
It’s the new 2 Series Coupe, and while we knew it was imminent this is first time we have seen it in the flesh. We will be able to see it a lot more over the next few days as one of the star new cars to debut at the Festival of Speed Presented by Mastercard.
First look says there is plenty of purpose in those well-proportioned three-box looks, with a low and well-planted stance emphasised by new aero devices and a wide and squat kidney grille – the tall and narrow grille from the 4 Series has no place here.
As well as purpose there’s plenty of purple too, in the first car to break cover at least. It’s Thundernight Metallic if you are tempted, and the colour is exclusive to the new 2 Series Coupe.
Which model to go for? All come with what BMW says are “perfectly balanced driving attributes”. The entry model, the 220i, gets a four-pot petrol engine with 184PS (138kW) for 0-62mph in 7.5 seconds and costs from £34,980. Not so fast then but definitely rear-wheel-drive.
The other four-cylinder is a diesel with similar power but 100Nm (74lb ft) more torque thanks to an electric helping hand from a 48V starter generator. It brings the 0-62mph sprint down to 6.9 seconds for an extra £2k on the price.
The third model so far announced is the sportiest and most expensive, at £45,795. This is the M240i and it gets what all small BMWs should have: a straight-six in its nose. The 3.0-litre boasts a healthy 374PS (280kW) (34PS more than the engine in its predecessor) and 500Nm (370lb ft) of pulling power for a sprightly 0-62mph dash in 4.3 seconds.
It is also only available in all-wheel-drive form. BMW’s xDrive system is superb – rear-biased and with a setting that allows you to turn drive to the front wheels off – but purists may still think it a shame there’s no six-cylinder rear-driver. They might also think it a shame there’s no manual ‘box to complement the old-school coupe formula; the only transmission across the range is the eight-speed Steptronic Sport.
We shouldn’t carp too much for the 2 Series Coupe is still the only vehicle in its segment to offer a six-cylinder in-line engine, while lesser companies may well have penny-pinched and based it on a front-wheel drive platform (BMW’s other 1 and 2 Series models are front-drive of course). As BMW says, the car “occupies a defiantly niche position”.
As did its predecessor. That had a strong following, rekindling as it did memories of E30 M3s, even the earlier 02 models. It is a connection BMW is keen to maintain, to the extent that the round LED headlights of the new car are said to have been inspired by the 2002 (no, we don’t see it either).
The “classic” link means the new two-door remains very much in its predecessor’s mould, just a little longer (still only 4.5m), and a tad lower and wider. It is still more 2+2 than four-seater but the boot is a little bigger, and the aerodynamics better. Aero highlight? That might be the 10-stage electrically operated air flaps in the front grille.
All versions in the new range are to M Sport spec as standard and it shows with plenty of M accents: the high gloss shadow line trim, M light alloy wheels and dark metallic finish for side sills and apron inlays. Front and back it’s all very smart but a bit generic BMW, while side-on it’s very distinctive.
Inside, the sporty newcomer appears just as enticing with plenty of driver focus. M Sport spec means standard heated sport seats for driver and front passenger, leather multifunction steering wheel, Alcantara/Sensatec upholstery (the BMW M240i gets leather) and lots of high-gloss black trim.
Options are adaptive M suspension, M Sport brakes (standard on the M240i, along with fully lockable electronic M sports differential), a big range of M Sport performance parts and, for the first time with this model, a head-up display.
Tempted? Following its Festival debut the 2 Series Coupe will be available in the UK from early in 2022, with other variants likely to follow. Did someone says M2?