In praise of BMW’s brilliant 2-series –

Posted: Monday, April 14, 2014

Most of what was uninspiring about the 1-series in the past could be put down
to the emotionless calculating of modern marketing. The range came into
being as an exercise in “niche marketing” – precisely aiming at the bank
accounts of a target group of customers.

In the case of the 1-series,
the target group was comprised of people who had always aspired to own a BMW
but had never been able to afford one. Like “name brand” clothing at M&S,
the “baby BMW” existed primarily as a vehicle for showing off a badge to
your neighbours.

BMW may be continuing this soulless branding by naming the new Coupé the
2-series. But if you can get over that, you may find that this car also
belongs to a far more endearing BMW tradition – that of making great cars
that delight the people who buy them because the designers and engineers who
put them together had a marvellous time exercising their creative talents.

First off, they created a smooth, elongated body that mocks the stumpiness of
the 1-series hatchback. A stretched roofline flows into an enlarged rear,
room for two passengers in the back and a proper boot that is significantly
bigger than those of its rivals – Audi’s
and Volkswagen’s

Then they gave its rear-wheel drive chassis a masterpiece of engineering in
the 3.0-litre turbocharged engine which powers the M235i version of the
2-series Coupé (other less powerful petrol and diesel engines are also

The six cylinders in that engine are lined up in the straight formation that
produces some of the most ravishing sounds of which internal combustion is
capable – a deep, rich bellow rising to a fearsome shriek.

This engine has so much pulling power that it will accelerate uncomplainingly
from very low revs in high gear – though the car is far more fun to drive if
all the gears in the six-speed manual gearbox are worked to their limits.

Given that approach, BMW’s M Sport Drive Performance Control and adaptive
suspension take a kindly hand, adjusting the firmness of the dampers
according to the road surface. Brake discs on the 18in wheels are enlarged
and their powers increased to help contain more than 300bhp.

BMW put the starting price for the M235i at under £35,000 but, as usual, that
figure is no closer to actual experience than the near 35mpg claim for
average fuel consumption. Just two more things about the 2-series Coupé that
are best acceded to with eyes closed – along with its name.


BMW M235i

Tested: 2,979cc turbocharged straight-six cylinder petrol engine,
eight-speed automatic gearbox, rear-wheel drive

Price/on sale: From £34,250 plus Sport 8-speed auto £1,685/now

Power/torque: 321bhp @ 5,800rpm, 332lb ft @ 1,300rpm.

Top speed: 155mph (limited)

Acceleration: 0-62mph 4.8sec (5sec manual).

Fuel economy: 27.4mpg/37.2mpg (EU Urban/Combined)

CO2 emissions: 176g/km

VED band: I (£355 for the first year, £220 thereafter)

Telegraph rating: Four out of five stars


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