New BMW 2 Series first drive

BMW 2 series Launched this week to the UK’s motoring media were the all new 2 Series Coupe and the 4 Series Convertible, the first two models out of 10 scheduled to be introduced this year.

These range from the first 2 Series model – the new Coupe through to the new 2 Series Active Tourer compact MPV – BMW first front wheel drive model to the hard-core M3 Saloon and M4 Coupe, the new X3, X4 and X6 sports SUVs and the stunning i8 electric sports car.

Both the 2 Series Coupe and 4 Series Convertible will be in UK dealerships during March with Coupe prices starting from £24,265 and the Convertible from £36,675.

The 2 Series two door Coupe replaces the 1 Series Coupe offering a longer and wider body, wider track with a longer wheelbase and it remains rear wheel drive. It offers more interior space, a slightly larger boot, a greater road presence due to the increase in size, it is better equipped with only a modest price increase, the engines offer more power, more performance, less emissions and better fuel economy.

Three petrol and three diesel Euro 6 engines are available now ranging from the 220d, 184hp turbodiesel to the latest M 235i, 326hp ‘straight six’ M performance model priced at £34,250. In due course a 228i, 220i, 218d and 225d engine options will join the line-up. All engines will use BMW’s TwinPower turbo technology and their acclaimed EfficientDynamics to reduce fuel consumption and lower CO2 emissions.

The sports emphasis of the new Coupe is enhanced with a higher level equipment as standard and with the choice of four trim and equipment levels, SE, Sport, Modern and the best selling M Sport plus the specific M235i variant and of course there is the usual wide range of further cost options that can be selected.

BMW 2 series Alex Morgan, BMW’s UK product manager for small cars said at the media launch, “The
1 Series Coupe was launched in 2007 and we have sold 30,000 of them in six years and with its replacement we expect the 2 Series Coupe to take 15% of worldwide production of this model accounting for around 5,000 annual UK sales.”

He added, “ We anticipate 55% of customers will choose the M Sport specification, 50% will choose the eight-speed automatic transmission, the yet to be released 218d, 143hp turbodiesel engine will be the most popular choice but for now the 220d 184hp unit will be the best seller and retail customers will account for a around 70% of UK sales.”

Moving on to the 4 Series Convertible Natasha Newman, BMW’s UK product manager for medium sized cars told the motoring press that the all new 4 Series Coupe is lower, wider and longer than the outgoing 3 Series Convertible and it retains their three piece retractable metal roof. This transforms the dynamic style of a coupe into an elegant convertible in just 20 seconds and can now be raised or lowered when the vehicle is travelling at speeds of up to 8mph.

She added, “The new model is the fifth generation of mid-sized convertible since the launch of the 3 Series version in 1986. Over 28,000 have been sold since then in the seven years and we expect to sell around 4,500 of the 4 Series Convertible next year and around 75% will go to retail customers with the 420d, 184hp turbodiesel engine taking 60% of sales.”

There is the choice of two petrol and one diesel engines from launch. These are the 435i 306hp unit, the 428i 245hp petrol units and the most popular 420d 184hp turbodiesel. To follow will be a 425d 218hp turbodiesel and a 430d, 258hp turbodiesel unit with xDrive all wheel drive.

Prices start at £36,675 for the 420d SE and rise up to £44,970 for the high performance 435i Luxury version. There are five trim levels, SE, Sport, Modern, Luxury and M Sport with the latter being the most popular. The go with the extra interior space, improved rear passenger legroom, a slightly larger boot equipment levels are higher than the outgoing 3 Series Convertible models but again with a minimal price increase.

Commenting on why BMW feel the need to introduce 2 and 4 Series variants instead of prolonging the 1 and 3 Series line-up of models as in the past, Piers Scott, BMW’s UK general manager of product communications said, “With the number of derivatives we now offer it makes sense to differentiate our Series of models. Widening our model range also helps with customer retention as their needs change. With ten new or revised models due to be launched in the UK this year we will be able to compete in more sectors than before and this will grow our overall sales. Last year in the UK we sold 135,583 new cars, an increase of 6% over 2012 and we are currently the fourth largest market in the World. In January this year our sales have continued upwards with a 26% growth driven by a 55% increase in orders from retail customers.”

In 2013, Audi with their strategy of introducing more new models in a wider range of sectors outsold BMW for the first time ever to become the UK’s top selling premium car brand. With ten new or revised models on their way and new sectors to be competed in BMW’s new model surge could help them back to the top of the premium brand sales chart.

BMW 2 series For this launch review I am concentrating on the new 2 Series Coupe, Convertibles due to the current weather are not so topical. BMW say the new Coupe is their first ever 2 Series model. True in part but in the late 60s and mid 70s they had the 2002 range of saloons and coupes which in due course became the 3 Series. The 2002 included the infamous Tii Coupe version with BMW’s first ever use of a turbocharger and by all accounts the power it offered far outperformed the car’s handling capabilities.

Much has moved on and today’s 2 Series Coupe is a far more superior machine, even better than the 1 Series Coupes it replaces. Most importantly is the long front bonnet, elongated length, two door heavily sculptured body and longer wheelbase with wider front and rear tracks gives it a much larger road presence. It does in fact have the same exterior length as the original 3 Series Coupe of the early 1980s. The overall length is 4,432mm, that is 72mm more than the 1 Series Coupe, the wheelbase is 30mm longer and the width is 26mm more, the front tack goes up by 41mm and the rear track by 43mm. That in turn increases rear legroom by 21mm and the boot, still not large and with an awkward opening, is now 390-litres, 100-litres more than the current Audi TT Coupe. The rear seats split and fold to add further load space. Rear seat passengers will appreciate the extra space but it is still not large enough than to be anything more than adequate and not as practical as the 1 Series Hatchback. But it looks a more high-performance machine well in tune with BMW’s sporting image.

All versions, except the stunning performance M235i, are available with SE, Sport, Modern and M Sport levels of equipment. All versions offer more spec with minimal prices increases over the 1 Series versions. The price increases range from £350 to £415 but the added standard fit iDrive Controller and BMW Emergency Call feature alone are worth £500.

The standard SE specification is generous and includes 17-inch alloy wheels, rear parking sensors, high class DAB radio with a 6.5-inch monitor, climate control, Bluetooth, rain sensing wipers, automatic lights, Dynamic brake, traction, brake cornering and automatic stability controls, front fog lights, stop/start button, on-board computer, auto stop-start and brake energy regeneration. The front interior remains a typical driver focussed cockpit arrangements with most controls being well positioned, only the start button is sited behind the rim of the steering wheel. The iController is positioned on the centre console and is really easy to use for the various functions, especially the extra cost but highly desirable and costly £1,890 BMW Professional Navigation System and its associated other functions.

The handling is brilliant, sharp, agile and the steering gives really accurate feedback. The wider tracks make the Coupe well planted during cornering. Understeer is hardly evident except for really aggressive cornering but for most drivers the car turns in nicely and predictably. With the 17-inch wheels the ride comfort is good and the longer wheelbase has ironed out some of the fore to aft choppiness of the 1 Series Coupe. There is of course the usual Drive Performance Control with ECO PRO, Comfort and Sport Modes easily selected by a toggle switch close to the gearlever.

BMW 2 series The 220d, four cylinder turbodiesel engine we know well enough being BMW’s best selling unit with 184hp and more importantly 380Nm (280lb ft) of torque delivered from under 2,000rpm being ideal for relaxed or more vigorous driving. The top speed is 143mph and zero to 62mph takes 7.2 seconds for the six-speed manual gearbox configuration. When it comes to fuel economy officially 58.9mpg is the Combined Cycle figure and during my test drive on the mountainous winding traffic-free roads in the south of Spain, the 220d SE Coupe returned 43.1mpg. With CO2 emissions of 125g/km with the manual gearbox road tax is zero cost for the First Year rate increasing to £105 per annum for Year Two onwards. Company car drivers will pay 21% Benefit-in-Kind tax from April. The eight-speed automatic option reduces CO2 emissions to 117g/km so VED is £0 and then £30 for Year Two but BIK tax goes down to 19% from April, a 5% improvement over the previous 1 Series Coupe 220d auto a £510 tax saving for 40% rated tax payers. Although the 155mph M235i Coupe ‘straight six’ will be the ‘halo’ car of the range, even though it is priced at £34,250, the 220d variant for me is the best option for most people.

The all new BMW 2 Series Coupe is bigger, more imposing and better than the 1 Series Coupe it replaces so size does matter in this case.

MILESTONES: BMW 2 Series 220d SE Coupe manual. Price: £25,865. (£34,025 as tested). Engine/transmission: 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder, turbodiesel 184hp, 280lb ft of torque from 1,750rpm, 6-speed manual, rear wheel drive. Performance: 143mph, 0-62mph 7.2 seconds, 58.9mpg Combined Cycle (43.1mpg on a hard/fast test drive), CO2 125g/km, VED £0 First Year then £105 Year Two onwards, BIK company car tax 21% from April. Insurance group: tba. Warranty: 3-years/unlimited mileage. For: More upmarket status, more interior space, larger boot, higher spec, more fuel/CO2 efficient, great to drive. Against: Roomier but still limited rear seat leg and headroom, small boot loading opening, beware of the costly options. Miles better news agency

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