All the fun of the coupe with two extra doors
When the BMW 2 Series was introduced back in 2014, it arguably offered the purest driving experience in the automaker’s contemporary fleet thanks to a relatively light curb weight and short wheelbase. One caveat was the lack of the practicality due to the smaller footprint and coupe bodystyle, but that’s at least partially solved with the launch of the first-ever Gran Coupé sedan variant.
If you’re a fan of the two-door’s aesthetics, then the GC won’t be a disappointment. Still low-slung, wide and possessing frameless windows, the LED headlights have been slightly altered to feature the signature four-eyed halo daytime running lights look, and the kidney grille, finished in a cool high gloss black, is a little taller. Other dark-accented-parts are the black air intake surrounds, side mirror bases, door trim surround rear diffuser, contrasting perfectly against the Melbourne Red Metallic (+$895) coat of paint.
The roof, housing a generous 74 centimetre x 72 centimetre sliding panoramic panel, has a gentle downward slope to meet the trunk, where it meets slim L-shaped taillights that sit high above a pair of large chrome 90-millimetre exhaust tips.
I’ve piloted a lot of sporty cars in my day, and few have managed to produce a steering wheel quite so close to perfection as the M Leather example balancing smooth yet grippy spokes, with just the right amount of thickness, physical buttons and adjustability.
Darpan’s media loaner came with the Premium Excellence Package (+$8,750), which bundles the Live Cockpit Professional display grouping two screens together, able to show everything from a digital speedometer/tachometre to a real-time map overlay. Included as well is the brand’s excellent full-colour head-up display beaming important vehicle information right in the driver’s line of sight on the lower windshield.
Interior space is about as generous as you can expect out of a compact car. BMW says the rear legroom is comparable to a 3 Series, measuring 873 millimetres, but it really depends on how tall the front occupants are. Still, I didn’t have any major complaints from those seated in the second row. The standard ambient illumination provides six different colours to choose from that really add a touch of elegance to the cabin.
Our 228i trim had under the hood a zippy 2.0-litre TwinPower turbocharged four cylinder, mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission. Making 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, the engine is more than sufficient to get the job done — whether running errands or attacking the back roads — especially when complemented by xDrive all-wheel drive, chassis bracing and the optional M Sport suspension bringing the sedan 10 millimetres closer to the ground.
Debuting on the GC is the near-actuator wheel slip limitation (ARB) system. Borrowed from the BMW i3 EV, ARB improves traction during cornering or acceleration in wet and icy conditions. The former is certainly useful in Greater Vancouver’s winter climate and gave me extra confidence navigating tight roads in rainy weather.
Also available is the M235i Gran Coupé that utilizes a tuned version of the same bi-turbo four-cylinder mill, cranking out an additional 73 horsepower and 74 lb-ft of torque, and a host of other upgrades inside and out.
Highlights (as tested):
Motor: 2.0-litre twin-turbocharged four-cylinder
Horsepower: 228 @ 5,000 rpm
Torque (lb-ft): 258 @ 1,450 rpm
Gearbox: eight-speed automatic
Layout: front engine, all-wheel drive
Fuel economy: 13.7 L/100 km mixed city/highway (observed)
Images courtesy of BMW Pressroom - BMW M235i Gran Coupé model pictured