Buying Guide

2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe Review | The not-so-budget BMW sedan

BMW’s new starter sedan is still a BMW, but it’s a compromised one

2020 BMW 228i front 3
2020 BMW 228i front 3 / Image Credit: James Riswick
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The 2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe is BMW’s newest entry-level four-door offering. It slots below the 3 Series in price, panache and size, and despite the name, is wholly different from the two-door 2 Series. While that car rides on a traditional-for-BMW rear-wheel-drive platform, the Gran Coupe uses a front-drive platform shared with the BMW X1 and X2 crossovers as well as some Minis. Beyond that basic architecture, the two 2's have different powertrains, styling, interiors, safety tech and driving experiences. Basically, they're nothing alike. 

Now, beyond the BMW family, with four doors and a compact size, the 2 Series Gran Coupe competes against other small luxury brands’ starter cars. This group includes the soon-to-debut 2021 Audi A3 and recently debuted Cadillac CT4, but the closest competitors currently come from Mercedes-Benz with its A-Class and CLA-Class. In our experience, this pair provides a stronger luxury experience that's more indicative of their bigger, pricier siblings, while the 2 Series Gran Coupe is the sharper car to drive. That said, it's not sharp or sophisticated enough to tempt folks away from the 3 Series, which starts at only $3,250 more than the 2 Series Gran Coupe. That's a much smaller gap than what you'll find with the above competitors and it's ultimately the reason we'd think twice about it. 

What’s new for 2020?

The 2 Series Gran Coupe is a completely new model for 2020. You can read all about its background and engineering in our First Drive review here.

What’s the interior and in-car technology like?

The 2 Series Gran Coupe has a respectable interior that matches its price point for quality, but falls short of its Mercedes competitors in terms of showy design and tech. BMW’s latest design language is used inside, which gives the car a premium feeling. It's similar to that of the 3 Series, but there are more adventurous, youthful touches like the ambient lighting that uniquely bleeds through the dash trim at night. The center stack and console look is modern and full of fast, sharp edges. There are plenty of black plastics to be found, but none are objectionable. Visibility forward is good, but the Gran Coupe body style forces a narrow, compromised view out the rear window.

BMW’s iDrive 6.0 comes standard and includes analog gauges alongside an 8.8-inch infotainment screen. But, you can upgrade to the improved iDrive 7.0 and its pair of 10.25-inch screens, one for the instrument cluster and one for the central touchscreen. Apple CarPlay is standard and works wirelessly through Bluetooth. A WiFi Hotspot and wireless charging are bundled together as an option, however, we found that an iPhone 8 Plus was too large to fit in the wireless charger, rendering it useless.

Finally, pictured below, you'll see two examples of available interior colors as well as the different front seats found in the 228i (left) and M235i (right).

How big is the 2 Series Gran Coupe?

The new four-door 2 Series Gran Coupe measures 178.5 inches in total length, making it 7.2 inches shorter than a 3 Series, but four inches longer than a two-door 2 Series. BMW has grown the 3 Series over time, so this 2 Series Gran Coupe is about the size of what a 3 Series was 10 years ago.

There are 34.4 inches of rear seat legroom, which is enough for an adult to fit, but unless there's a shorter driver up front, there's not enough to be comfortable for any long stretches of driving. That's pretty consistent with an older 3 Series. The compromised headroom is not. Sitting straight up, those nearing the 6-foot mark will find their heads are grazing the ceiling and/or their necks craning to avoid it. This is similar to what you'd find in the Mercedes CLA, but the A-Class has two more inches of headroom. Both have less legroom, however, as does the Cadillac CT4.

Interior packaging is done well for the most part. The center console area is pushed down lower than rear-drive BMWs, giving you a wide-open space for drinks and storage of other items. There are big, useful bins in the doors, too. The trunk offers a wide loading space that makes it easy to move things in and out. Its official measurement is 15.1 cubic-feet, but like other BMW's, that number is inflated relative those of other cars and car companies. It's still quite large for the segment – we managed to squeeze in five suitcases – but it's not comparable to a Camry-sized sedan as its official measurement would suggest. 

2020 BMW M235i Gran Coupe
2020 BMW M235i Gran Coupe
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What’s the performance and fuel economy?

There are two levels of performance offered in the 2 Series Gran Coupe lineup. The base 228i xDrive is powered by a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. That’s good for 0-60 mph in 6.0 seconds. Fuel economy is 23 mpg city, 33 mpg highway and 27 mpg combined. All 2 Series Gran Coupes are equipped with BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system and an eight-speed automatic transmission. There is no manual available.

You can upgrade to the M235i xDrive Gran Coupe for additional performance. This M Performance variant is powered by a more powerful 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder good for 301 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. That drops the 0-60 mph time down to just 4.6 seconds. Fuel economy takes a small dip, dropping down to 23 mpg city, 32 mpg highway and 26 mpg combined.

2020 BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupe
2020 BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupe
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What’s the 2 Series Gran Coupe like to drive?

In some ways, it feels like a proper BMW behind the wheel. It has the typical, excellent throttle response, quick (if numb) steering and agile feel in the chassis. It doesn’t drive like a budget BMW that cuts corners, which is the fear when you swap to a front-wheel-drive platform and come in at a cheaper price. However, it also behaves more like a BMW-tuned hot hatch than a traditional BMW sport sedan or coupe. Instead of the rear-drive tendencies of a 3 Series or two-door 2 Series, this car drives like a lower BMW X2 crossover — the two share a platform and engines. There's an impressive amount of road-holding grip and the body remains composed when thrown back and forth, but it lacks the raw fun factor and balance of a rear-drive-based car like the 3 Series. The all-wheel drive system keeps it from understeering or otherwise feeling like a front-wheel-drive car, but it’s not capable of sending enough power to the rear so as to inject a rear-wheel-drive feeling into the chassis. 

The engines are less controversial – acceleration is brisk in the 228i and properly quick in the M235i. There’s a launch control feature that makes takeoffs much more effective, chopping off the second of waiting you experience when punching the throttle from 0 otherwise. Shifts from the eight-speed automatic are instant and satisfying when you want them to be, but smooth and easy when cruising. There's also some satisfying engine noise generated, but unfortunately it's faked through the car's speakers and can actually sound better with the noise generator turned off.  

Like BMWs of old, both the 228i and M235i ride a bit stiffly around town. They're well damped and not harsh, and some will consider the lack of plushness an acceptable trade-off for adept handling on a winding road. However, as we've already said, they're not as rewarding to drive in such a scenario, one wonders if a softer suspension tune would be appreciated by those buying a 2 Gran Coupe for non-performance reasons. 

What more can I read about the 2 Series Gran Coupe?

2020 BMW M235i Gran Coupe First Drive | The new entry level

Our first drive of the 2020 BMW M235i Gran Coupe. We tackle the engineering details, what's new and how it lands.

What features are available and what’s the 2 Series Gran Coupe’s price?

This being an entry-level BMW, many of the more premium features are either in the options sheet or not available at all. Still, the 228i comes with 17-inch alloy wheels, auto-dimming mirrors, dual-zone auto climate control, rain-sensing wipers, power seats covered in premium leatherette, and an 8.8-inch touchscreen.

There are plenty of options that can be tacked on including the larger iDrive 7.0 screens, a panoramic sunroof, heated seats and steering wheel, Harman Kardon audio system, a head-up display and wireless phone charging. Adaptive cruise control is also an extra, but BMW’s advanced driver assistance systems on more expensive models are not available. By contrast, you can get Mercedes' more advanced systems on the A- and CLA classes.

The base prices are listed below.

  • 228i xDrive: $38,495
  • M235i xDrive: $46,495

What safety equipment does the 2 Series Gran Coupe offer and what are its crash test ratings?

There are a few standard safety features on the 2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe, but it’s not as comprehensive as higher-end BMWs. You get frontal collision warning with automatic emergency braking, lane departure warning, blind-spot detection and automatic high beams as standard. Adaptive cruise control is optional for $1,200. BMW’s Highway Driving Assistant is not on the list, and neither is a 360-degree camera. However, you can get BMW’s Parking Assistance package that adds front and rear parking sensors and an automatic parallel parking feature.

The 2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe had not been crash tested by a third party at the time of this writing.

Related video:

BMW 228 Gran Coupe Information

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