The 220i Coupe LCI (BMW speak for a mid-cycle update) carries over most of the features the car received in the last refresh – notably a more powerful engine and some of BMW’s driving assistants – while receiving a light facelift.
The 2-Series line-up in its entirety is still a hard-to-match offering in the market. Available in either coupe or convertible, and in any spec from this near $50K entry-point 220i on test to the $100K racetrack bred M2, BMW has cornered a market seeking a relatively affordable and premium coupe with unique styling.
But whittling down an already small car means making sacrifices, and there are some compromises to be made for choosing this coupe over larger rivals.
Vehicle Style: Premium coupe
Price: $52,900 plus on-road costs
Engine/trans: 135kW/270Nm 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo petrol | 8spd automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 5.9 l/100km | Tested: 7.1 l/100km
Priced from $52,990 plus on-road costs, the 220i is the most affordable way to get into a BMW coupe or convertible and you won’t be stung opting for either a manual or automatic transmission.
It isn’t barebones chum to upsell buyers either; there’s enough standard kit and a good engine that it can hold its own. But the omission of some features such as keyless entry and electric seats is a letdown.
Standard inclusions include 17-inch alloys, LED headlights, dual-zone climate control, Dakota leather seats and steering wheel, iDrive6 infotainment system with reversing camera, satellite navigation and DAB+. Apple CarPlay is a $479 cost-option.
BMW driving assistant adds safety aids such as lane departure warning, pedestrian warning with emergency braking, AEB, and front and rear parking sensors. But it doesn’t have some handy safety assistants such as adaptive (radar) cruise control and automatic high beam dimming, though they are available in the ($1350) driver’s assistance package.
Other packages available are the ($1700) innovations pack which adds HiFi sound system and concierge services, and comfort package ($2400) that adds keyless entry and electric front seats with memory function and heating.
With just a couple beneficial packages added, the price creeps up nearer to $60,0000.
Opting for the M sport line over luxury adds sportier kit such as 18-inch alloys, Alcantara interior trim, M body parts, sport suspension and M multifunction steering wheel, and it takes the price up to $58,300 over the base luxury line.
Like most BMW’s, the 2 Series is rear-wheel drive – perhaps for the last time before the next-generation – and is powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder twin scroll turbocharged engine that produces 135kW at 5000rpm and 270Nm of torque between 1350-4600rpm. Transmission options are either an eight-speed automatic or no-cost six-speed manual.
- Standard Equipment: Cruise control, power windows and mirrors, multi-function trip computer, dual-zone climate control air conditioning, leather seat trim, automatic on/off headlights and wipers and automatic dimming rear-view mirror.
- Infotainment: 6.5-inch colour screen with USB/AUX inputs, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, Spotify and news/weather/Google app connectivity, digital radio, satellite navigation with traffic reports and speed sign detection.
- Cargo Volume: 390 litres.
The 220i is 1418mm short and as such it requires some light gymnastics to get in and out of, but once inside, premium touches like wood trims and leather seats enhance the atmosphere. The seat and adjustable steering feels cramped for tall drivers, though, despite some adjustment offered from both.
The tiller is familiar to most BMW models and offers a thicker rather than svelte feel in the hands with controls for the stereo, cruise control and handsfree telephony all within a thumb stretch away.
There’s no heads-up display but the iDrive6 infotainment is slick, despite being on a smaller 6.5-inch screen. The addition of Apple CarPlay adds $479 (and is standard on most cars under $50,000) but does provide useful mobile device integration. Other features include Bluetooth connectivity, DAB+ and iDrive’s own app interface with data such as weather cards.
The sound itself, while not a 'premium HiFi system', offers adjustable equalizer settings which help punch the mid-range and improve clarity that otherwise isn’t as impressive.
The rear pews are where the 2 Series sacrifices legroom for the front foot wells and aren’t well equipped for frequent backseat fares, with getting in the back requiring some contortion too. However, the seats themselves are comfortable and there’s some nice details in the finishes. And for little ones with short legs the seats are well padded.
The boot on the other hand is surprisingly deep and offers a good 390 litres of space and, while not huge, will easily swallow holiday luggage with the addition of a middle seat ski port taking longer items.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 135kW/270Nm 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol
- Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, rear wheel drive
- Suspension: Strut front, independent rear
- Brakes: Ventilated front and solid rear disc brakes
- Steering: Electrically assisted mechanical steering
As the baby of the 2-Series Beemer range, the 220i’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine procudes only a moderate 135kW and 270Nm which sees it trundle 0-100km/h in 7.2 seconds. Throttle response and engine performance feels just as ambitious and the little coupe is more comfortable playing the part of leisurely cruiser when prodded. A sport mode button tries to energise the throttle and transmission but its only mildly sharper in this mode, and sips more fuel for it.
While not a proper sports coupe there is some dynamic ability under the skin and the rear-wheel drive layout lends itself well to an enjoyable drive when pushed. The lack of whack that a machine like the M2 boasts also keeps things safe when planting the foot too.
Related to the M2, which is a comprehensively different animal to the 220i, the coupe has a compliant but firm enough chassis that will happily tuck into corners. Turn-in from the steering is quick but the steering isn’t as precise and well weighted. Likewise braking won’t deal with heavy use downhills but for the odd sprint it is capable enough with enough heave to dispense of quick overtaking manoeuvres.
But its in the urban jungle that the 220i is more at home and its ride is gentler than all of its siblings thanks to smaller 17-inch alloys. In-cabin noise from outside world is dampened enough too that driving with the stereo off or taking calls aren’t disturbed. Around town the 220i is just as calm yet its zip is enough that traffic and quick manoeuvres are effortless to perform. The light steering translates better in the suburban environment too and its stop-start feature works well without being annoying.
ANCAP rating: The BMW 220i has not yet been tested by ANCAP.
Safety features: Six airbags including dual-front, front-side and rear-side protection, ABS, ESC, pre-collision and pedestrian warning, lane departure warning, low-speed autonomous emergency braking, front and rear parking sensors, surround-view camera.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years/unlimited km
Servicing: Condition-based servicing (CBS) costs $1218 over five years or 80,000km, which is competitive in the premium small convertible segment
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The little 2-Series coupe enjoys an uncrowded space for now and most rivals are either larger or less premium. The Mercedes-Benz C200 two-door coupe is the nearest crosstown rival, with a similar rear-wheel drive layout driven by a 135kW and 300Nm engine, but its both larger and more expensive at $66,400 (plus on-road costs).
The Infiniti Q60 GT offers a similar size rear-wheel driven coupe as the C200 but is slightly more affordable, priced from $62,900 (plus on-road costs). It’s more powerful but its weight slows it down somewhat.
Less premium but similar sized is the Toyota 86 GTS auto, which is more affordable, priced from $38,790 (plus on-roads costs) and offers superior handling. Opting for a six-speed manual takes a further $2500 off the price.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
The 220i matches its entry-point price and offers a blend of kit and performance which might not impress but will certainly not bother most buyers. Given the 2 Series coupe’s unique size offering in the marketplace the entire range hasn’t had to work too hard to win over buyers.
And while performance-heads won’t take to what’s on offer there’s still a communicative chassis and responsive drivetrain that doesn’t feel far off from its more capable siblings. More importantly its a good driver around town.
When compared to the larger 4 Series coupe the limitations of the interior space will feel confined for some buyers, but it's alot of what the larger 420i offers without the price.