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2014 BMW 2 Series Review: 220i Sport Line Photo:
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What's Hot
Balanced ride and handling, flexible engine and transmission, handsome style
What's Not
Options are expensive, not terribly fast.
X-Factor
The BMW 220i is an enticing alternative to a high-end hot hatch, and a fine coupe in its own right.
Tony O'Kane | Jun, 07 2014 | 1 Comment

2014 BMW 2 SERIES REVIEW

Vehicle Style: 2-door sports coupe
Price: $50,500 (plus on-roads)

Engine/trans: 135kW/270Nm 2.0 turbo petrol 4cyl | 8sp auto
Fuel Economy claimed: 6.0 l/100km | tested: 8.6 l/100km


 

OVERVIEW

Priced at $50,500, the BMW 220i is the most affordable small luxury RWD coupe by a hefty margin.

It's got the right sporty lines, but does it carry the sporting credentials we've come to expect from the Bavarian masters of alert handling and eager engines? And is it much chop all-round?

The power is taken to the right end of the car, but the 2.0 litre turbo’s output of 135kW and 270Nm lags behind pretty much every hot hatch on the market.

But power isn’t everything. Though there's the more potent 228i sitting alongside it in the showroom, the 228i's $64,400 retail price is a hefty margin over the 220i's sticker.

Truth is, after a few days behind the wheel, we really warmed to the 220i - especially its superb handling. As cars like the Mazda MX-5 and Toyota 86 have proven, big power is not a prerequisite for fun times at the wheel.

 

THE INTERIOR

  • Standard: Bluetooth phone and audio, dual-zone climate control, cruise control, speed limiter, power windows and mirrors, trip computer, AM/FM stereo, sat-nav, USB audio input, steering wheel audio/cruise controls, leather upholstery, reverse parking sensors
  • Options fitted: Dakota leather, heated and power-adjustable seats, sunroof, black headliner, front parking sensors, reversing camera, self-parking feature, bi-xenon headlamps

Our 220i came equipped with the Sport Line package, a no-cost option that dresses the interior with red contrast trim, different instrument cluster graphics, alloy sill-plates, and sports steering wheel.

Other options included a black headliner ($308) and Dakota leather upholstery ($1692), which gave the interior a dark, but sporty ambience.

But the options don’t end there.

A sunroof ($2000), interior light package and the Comfort package ($2400) - which includes power-adjustable and heated front seats - were also on the spec sheet alongside the Visibility Package ($2500), parking sensors ($1400) and metallic paint ($1142).

There were a few other boxes ticked, adding - all up - an extra $13,419 on top of the retail price of our test car.

You can happily forgo most of those options though, as the basics are well catered for. Sat-nav, cruise control, a speed limiter, dual-zone climate control, a trip computer, USB audio input, reverse parking sensors and Bluetooth are all standard.

Comfort is also pretty good. The front seats are well-bolstered and feature a length-adjustable squab, and there’s a huge range of adjustment for the steering column and front seats.

The back seat isn’t terribly generous when it comes to headroom, but shoulder room and legroom are fine. The provision of rear face-level air vents is also a big plus.

 

ON THE ROAD

  • 135kW/270Nm 2.0 turbo petrol four-cylinder
  • 8-speed automatic with sport mode and paddle shifters
  • Rear-wheel drive
  • MacPherson strut front, multi-link rear suspension
  • Disc brakes front and rear, sliding calipers

The 220i’s straight-line performance isn’t scorching by any means, but, truth to be told, a 7.0 second 0-100km/h is not exactly shabby.

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The slick-shifting eight-speed automatic certainly helps make the most of the 220i’s powerband. There’s ample torque down low - peak twist of 270Nm is available from just 1250rpm - but the 220i’s 2.0 turbo engine is happiest when it’s at 3000rpm and above.

The accelerator and transmission mapping gets sharper when Sport mode is selected, and the shifts are sharper still when the selector is tipped sideways into the manual gate.

But no matter what, the gearbox will always automatically upshift when the redline is reached when in manual mode. This is to protect the internals under the bonnet from too much exposure to all that physics at work (but I find it a bit of peeve when on the racetrack.)

Down below, 18-inch alloys are standard for the 220i, but not uncomfortable in the slightest.

Indeed, the soft spring and damper settings soak-up urban lumps and bumps with ease. The rebound damping however could be a little tighter to help the suspension recover quicker.

This concession to comfort allows some body roll and fore-and-aft pitching when punting hard along a winding road, but the 220i’s near-neutral chassis balance and precise steering make it a joy to pilot.

If you prefer a tighter suspension feel then you can always opt for the M Sport package. But most, we think, will prefer the better balance and comfort of the standard hardware.

 

SAFETY

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

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

 

RIVALS TO CONSIDER

The 220i is all by its lonesome in a niche occupied only by itself. Even the Mercedes C-Class Coupe starts at $59,900 for the C180.

You have to leave the luxury segment to find true competitors, and they include other RWD grin-machines like the Mazda MX-5 and Toyota 86.

AWD rockets like the Subaru WRX STI and VW Golf R also exist near the 220i’s price point, but if all you want is a luxurious two-door coupe for around $50k, the 220i is your only real choice.

 

TMR VERDICT | OVERALL

The 220i treads that fine line between luxury car and sports coupe. Ultimately, while it doesn't quite excel at either, it is a very agreeable compromise.

In base configuration, some may consider it too sparsely-equipped for true luxury status, and the straight-line performance, while brisk, will have enthusiasts perhaps passing it by.

But the fact is that this is a fun car to drive, and one that’s more than quick enough. And, let’s face it, there is a lot of appeal in those handsome compact lines.

At $50k it’s also rather good buying, and offers value that BMW’s competitors really can’t equal.

If the choice came between our optioned up tester and a base config 228i, we’d go for the more powerful option without a thought. However, you’re not exactly losing if you opt for the 220i instead.

 

PRICING (excludes on-road costs)

The new 228i Coupe is available to order now, ahead of September delivery.

  • BMW 220i Coupe - $50,500
  • BMW 220d Coupe - $52,500
  • BMW 228i Coupe - $64,400
  • BMW M235i Coupe - $80,400

MORE: 2 Series News and Reviews

 
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