2014 BMW 2 Series Review: 220i, 220d and M235i

Tony O'Kane | 6 Comments

BMW 2 SERIES REVIEW

What’s Hot: Fantastic performance from M235i, value-buying across the range, super chassis balance.
What’s Not: 220d suspension is too soft.
X-FACTOR: The 2 Series is the beautiful swan to the 1 Series Coupe’s ugly duckling. Premium style meets performance at a mid-market price.

Vehicle Style: Small luxury coupe
Price: $50,500 (220i), $52,500 (220d), $79,900 (M235i (plus on-roads)

Engine/trans:
135kW/270Nm 2.0 turbo petrol 4cyl (220i)
135kW/380Nm 2.0 turbo diesel 4cyl (220d)
240kW/450Nm 3.0 turbo petrol 6cyl (M235i) | 8sp auto or 6sp manual

Fuel Economy l/100km claimed: 6.0 (220i), 4.4 (220d), 7.6 (M235i)


OVERVIEW

Lower, longer, and wider than the car it replaces, the sleek new BMW 2 Series is also vastly better in every way.

With a predecessor that looked awkward, stumpy or just downright dumpy from certain angles, the 2 Series is a solid winner when it comes to aesthetics.

Its appeal however goes beyond mere looks.

It’s a riot to drive on road or track. In fact, BMW’s legendary reputation for handling is reinvigorated and very much alive in the new 2 Series.

Starting at $50,500 for the 220i entry model, it's surely good value buying for a premium luxury two-door coupe with such style and dynamics.

MORE: Read Tony's M235i TRACK TEST REVIEW.

THE INTERIOR

  • Synthetic leather in 220i and 220d, leather standard in M235i.
  • Dual-zone climate control, cruise control, dusk-sensing headlamps, rain-sensing wipers, keyless ignition.
  • 220i and 220d get Navigation System Business with 6.5-inch display, M235i gets Navigation System Professional with 8.8-inch display.
  • 6-speaker, 100W MP3-compatible sound system on 220i and 220d, 7-speaker 205W stereo on M235i.
  • USB audio input and Bluetooth phone/audio integration standard across range

If you never warmed to the plain-jane interior of the outgoing 1 Series Coupe, then you’ll probably find more to like about the cabin in the 2 Series.

The design is pretty much identical to the 1 Series hatch that’s been on the market since late 2011, and it looks pretty good.

Quality is a big step-up from the old 1 Series Coupe, with better materials, a more solid construction and cupholders that no longer sit under the driver's elbow.

The 220i and 220d get synthetic Sensatec leather as standard, but real leather is fitted to the range-topping M235i by default.

Though the 2 Series is 5mm lower overall than the 1 Series Coupe, there’s now 6mm more headroom for front seat occupants.

The door aperture is also 11mm wider, and rear seat legroom has grown by 21mm - though it’s still far from roomy back there.

The boot has also swelled by 20 litres, taking seats-up capacity to 390 litres.

Drop the 40/60 split rear backrests (a 40/20/40 split backrest is optional), and luggage space expands even further. Who said small coupes had to be impractical?

The 220i and 220d can be had with either the Sport Line or Modern Line trim packages, both at no additional cost.

Sport Line brings red trim accents to the interior, black chrome exterior trim, a different design of 17-inch alloys, a sports steering wheel and a unique instrument cluster.

The Modern Line package is more restrained. Trim is chrome and aluminium, and the ambience is lighter.

Base equipment levels are healthy for all models, with keyless entry and ignition, dual-zone airconditioning, a leather-trimmed steering wheel, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, sat nav (the M235i gets a more highly-featured nav system), a USB input and a trip computer all as standard.

Powered seats are a cost option, however. Even on the $79,900 M235i.

ON THE ROAD

  • 135kW/270Nm 2.0 turbo petrol inline four (220i)
  • 135kW/380Nm 2.0 turbo diesel inline four (220d)
  • 240kW/450Nm 3.0 turbo petrol inline six (M235i)
  • Eight-speed automatic standard, six speed manual is no-cost option
  • Rear wheel drive
  • Disc brakes with sliding calipers (220i and 220d), disc brakes with fixed calipers (M235i)

Offered with three engines (a 2.0 litre petrol, 2.0 litre diesel and a 3.0 litre petrol, all turbocharged) and coming standard with an eight-speed transmission, the 2014 BMW 2 Series range has something for everyone.

The 220i has a 135kW/270Nm turbocharged petrol inline four, which produces peak torque betweek 1250rpm and 4500rpm.

It’s tractable enough for daily driving and certainly more spry than you’d expect a two-litre to be. Once you get past some initial turbo lag it’s capable of generating some surprising mumbo.

LIke, 0-100km/h in 7.0 seconds flat is nothing to sneeze at.

And it does it without penalty. Thanks to a host of efficiency measures (including auto start stop and regenerative braking), BMW says the 220i drinks just 6.0 l/100km on the combined cycle.

On the tight, sometimes tortuous roads of Tasmania, it acquitted itself very well.

The suspension is supple enough to dispatch most big bumps with ease, and it takes a determined (or ham-fisted) driver to breach the 220i’s limits of grip on a public road.

The steering is variable in its weighting depending on whether the car is in Comfort, Sport or Sport+ mode. It’s the most likeable steering of a contemporary BMW when it comes to feel.

The diesel-powered 220d is the cruiser of the bunch. Power peaks at a 220i-equalling 135kW, however torque is substantially more at 380Nm.

Peak torque kicks in from 1750rpm to 2750rpm. The result being a 0-100km/h time of 7.1 seconds, a little shy of the 220i despite having equal power and more torque.

It's also set-up differently to the 220i - a little less-focussed and cruisy. We found the bumpstops in more than one occasion in severe mid-corner bumps, and the rear end didn’t seem as planted as the 220i’s.

It’s clear that the 220i possesses the sharper dynamics.

For the record, the 220i and 220d we drove were both equipped with the standard suspension, not the optional M Sport Suspension.

No complaints with was the ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic used by the 220i and 220d.

Shifts are incredibly smooth, kickdowns are swift and there’s no hunting when travelling up hills. With a gearbox this good, who needs a twin-clutch?

It’s also the same gearbox used by the range-topper, the M235i. Boy, what a beast that thing is.

Powered by the same 3.0 litre single-turbo inline six as the M135i hatchback, the M235i’s engine is tuned to produce 5kW more for a total of 240kW at 5800rpm, while peak torque remains unchanged at 450Nm.

But power is nothing without control, and the M235i has the right amount of grip to balance out its substantial amount of muscle.

Much credit goes to the Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres that are fitted exclusively to the M135i, but the 10mm lower M sport suspension and its electronically adjustable dampers also work hard to keep the M235i tracking straight and true.

Yet this is a suspension that still delivers more than the minimum modicum of comfort on degraded B-roads.

Set to Comfort mode, most big bumps are easily absorbed by the suspension and very few threatened to unsettle the car.

Turn the dial up to Sport+ mode and there's enough stability control intervention to keep you from getting properly sideways, but just the right amount of slip to make you feel like you're extracting the absolute maximum from the car.

The bigger brake hardware of the M235i also inspires confidence.

It’s got classic RWD dynamics, and, with a 50:50 weight distribution, it’s highly resistant to understeer.

Simply put, this car a delight to pilot, and its abilities deserve further elaboration. Stay tuned for our track test of the M235i.

SAFETY

ANCAP rating: The BMW 2 Series has yet to be tested by ANCAP.

Safety features: Stability control (switchable), traction control (multi-mode), ABS, EBD, brake assist, six airbags (dual front, front side, full-length curtain.

MORE: Read Tony's M235i TRACK TEST REVIEW.

TMR VERDICT | OVERALL

The 2 Series essentially sits alone in a segment of its own creation. No other luxury manufacturer offers a two-door coupe of the size and in the price-bracket of the 2 Series.

Mercedes comes close with the C-Class Coupe, but that car is longer and heavier than the equivalent 2 Series - not to mention substantially more expensive.

As far as classy coupes go, BMW's new 2 Series is a cracker. Drive it and you will see.

Pricing (excludes on-road costs)

  • BMW 220i Coupé - $50,500
  • BMW 220d Coupé - $52,500
  • BMW M235i Coupé - $79,900

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Filed under: Featured, review, BMW, petrol, coupe, diesel, rwd, automatic, Manual, lifestyle, bmw 2 series, Advice, special-featured, enthusiast, 2door, 6m, 8a, bmw 2 series coupe, 4seat, bmw m performance, available, 50-55k, 2014my, 75-80k, bmw m235i, 2013 reveal, 2014my launch, 2014 february launch

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  • craig says,
    5 months ago
    1 like
    Does it have run-flats? Seems like a better than 3.5 star car. You also gave a very positive review of the Golf wagon and only gave it 3.5 as well.
    • Tim O'Brien says,
      5 months ago
      1 like
      Whoops, dang... subbing error Craig, my fault. (The lads are applying the nipple-clamps as we speak.)

      It was supposed to be 4 stars.

      Tim
  • Nick Car says,
    5 months ago
    Tim, the following observation of yours is an excellent one, "Series 2 essentially sits alone in a segment of its own creation. No other luxury manufacturer offers a two-door coupe of the size and in the price-bracket of the 2 Series". This statement of yours has changed my way of thinking about the M235i (I was thinking along the line that the Audi S3 is better value than the M235i, but that's not comparing apples to apples).
    It's amazing to think that in such a crowded market the M235i stands alone.
    Regarding coupes to match (or close to) the M235i performance, Audi has either the S5 or TT S both of which are above $100,000, Porsche has the Cayman S at $145,000, with the C Class (as you mentioned) the only alternative is to buy a C63 which is twice the price, and the Infiniti G37 is no-where near the performance.
    The M235i actually seems like good value when comparing it to it's nearest peers.
    By the way, the 4 stars is for the overall range, how many stars would you give the M235i?
    • Mike Stevens
      Mike Stevens [TMR] says,
      5 months ago
      Hi Nick,

      Those were Tony's comments, actually! Don't want the poor guy missing out on praise...

      Stay tuned for detailed thoughts on the M235i, we'll be publishing a track review today of that car alone.
      UPDATE: Now published here - http://www.themotorreport.com.au/58320/2014-bmw-m235i-review-track-test-at-baskerville
      • Nick Car says,
        5 months ago
        1 like
        Oops, great observation Tony.
        Have just read Tony's track test for the M235i. Five stars out of five. Very impressive.
        A review of a manual in the future sometime would be good, but maybe a manual will be hard to come by, especially considering that the auto is a magnificent gearbox as highlighted by Tony during the track test.
  • FrugalOne says,
    5 months ago
    Why dont you guys take photos of the glove box?

    ie/ The Falcon glovebox, v the Commodore glovebox

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