Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
The BMW 2 Series Gran Coupé is available with three different engines, each of which can also be found under the bonnet of the BMW 1 Series. The line-up opens with a 138bhp 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine that brings a 218i badge and can get you from 0-62mph in a respectable 8.7sec.
Although that’s quicker than the equivalent Mercedes CLA 180’s time, the BMW suffers from a shortage of low-down pull, so it feels a bit sluggish unless you work the engine hard. Once up to speed, it cruises along happily enough, and at least acceleration is smooth and linear when the gearbox wakes up.
The other petrol option is the hot 302bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine of the M235i. Performance is brisk; it pulls really strongly all the way through to the rev-counter’s red line and, while its exhaust note may sound slightly contrived, it’s still a powerful and exciting engine. For reference, it can match the Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 for pace, but the hotter CLA 45 S is quicker.
The 188bhp four-cylinder diesel 220d completes the lineup. This is a strong, gutsy engine that offers good performance and will happily chew through motorway miles. The 218i gets a six-speed manual gearbox as standard, while the other two engines get slick-shifting eight-speed automatics.
No matter which version you go for, the 2 Series Gran Coupé is good to drive, and its responses are sharper than the CLA's. The steering is excellent, feeling very lively and alert with every interaction you have with the wheel. The M235i has its own bespoke steering and suspension to help it keep flatter in corners, and, with its limited-slip differential and four-wheel drive, has superb traction on greasy, winding roads.
Three types of suspension are available: standard, M Sport (which is 10mm lower and stiffer), and adaptive (this is available optionally only on the M235i). All setups are very slightly softer than their 1 Series equivalents, but not by enough to make the 2 Series Gran Coupé much less fun to drive.
What’s more, the Gran Coupé manages to maintain tight control of its body movements while remaining impressively cosseting. The stiffer springs of M Sport versions exaggerate any initial jolts, but even this setup is never crashy and manages to stay comfortable on ragged surfaces.
The interior is pretty quiet. You’ll hear some road noise and a bit of wind noise, but it’s easier to hold a conversation while travelling at speed than it is in the Mercedes CLA, which has a lot more suspension noise.
The i40 is showing its age; it’s neither great to drive nor lu...
Classy, comfortable, roomy and a sound alternative to a BMW 3...
The Vauxhall Insignia Grand Sport offers competitive pricing a...
The Mazda 3 Saloon combines performance with low running costs...