BMW's influx of even-numbered models continues with the 2014 2 Series coupe. The 2 Series replaces the BMW 1 Series coupe in the U.S. market as part of BMW's strategy to reserve odd-numbered model names for vehicles with more than two doors. (The BMW 3 Series sedan begat the 4 Series coupe, for instance.) The 2014 BMW 228i and M235i coupes will be making their public debut at the 2014 Detroit auto show before going on sale in the U.S. in March 2014.
The BMW 2 Series coupe picks up the basic three-box silhouette of the outgoing 1 Series coupe, albeit in a larger form. The coupe grows by 2.8 inches in length and 1.3 inches in width. As a result, it is just 4.3 inches shorter than a BMW 3 Series sedan and only 8.1 inches shorter overall than the new 4 Series coupe. The upshot of this increased footprint is more interior room; BMW says that headroom, rear legroom, and trunk capacity all increase compared with the 1 Series coupe.
On the outside, the BMW 2 Series wears the company's traditional kidney grilles, which are flanked by dramatically swept-back headlight housings isolated from the grilles by a small swath of sheetmetal. Large air intakes adorn the lower fascia, which features the drag-reducing Air Curtain flaps also seen on the larger 4 Series coupe. A sharp crease extends through the door handles, and a softer swage line kicks upward behind each door and leads into the rear wheel arch. Behind the frameless door, the roofline plummets toward a short decklid and a nearly flat tail adorned by LED taillights. The overall appearance is of a modernized, sharper 1 Series coupe.
The same approach has been taken inside, where the BMW 2 Series greets occupants with a pair of analog instruments, a center stack canted slightly toward the driver's seat, a 60/40-split folding rear seat, and a broad center console with the same joystick-like automatic transmission shifter (a six-speed manual is also available) and round iDrive controller. Dual-zone climate control, iDrive with a 6.5-inch screen, Bluetooth, a USB port, and two cupholders are all standard. Upgrading to navigation bumps the iDrive system's screen to 8.8 inches diagonally and adds a touch-sensitive controller on which drivers can "write" numbers or letters.
Two Models, Two Engines, Two Transmissions
BMW has broken the 2 Series coupe into two distinct models, the 228i and the M235i. The former uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged inline-four engine that produces 240 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. With the standard six-speed manual transmission, BMW predicts fuel economy ratings of 22/34 mpg (city/highway); the optional eight-speed automatic is expected to return 23/35 mpg. The 228i also promises a 5.4-second sprint to 60 mph when using the eight-speed transmission's Launch Control mode, as well as a top speed limited to either 130 mph or 155 mph, depending on options packaging.
Despite the impressive performance figures, the 228i still has a clear focus on efficiency. Engine stop-start is standard, as is a coasting feature that can disconnect the engine from the automatic transmission when the driver lifts his or her foot from the accelerator. Models with navigation have a function called Active Driving Assistant that tells the driver when to begin coasting for a corner, intersection, or lower speed limit ahead.
The BMW 228i coupe will be offered in two "Lines" in addition to the standard configuration. Sport Line adds 18-inch wheels, multicolor ambient lighting, gloss black exterior trim, and a choice between wood or brushed-aluminum interior trim. The M Sport Line has a sport suspension that lowers the car 0.4 inch, 18-inch double-spoke wheels, a chrome exhaust tip, new side skirts and fascias with larger air inlets, aluminum door-sill plates, unique instrument-cluster graphics, and sport front seats.
The BMW M235i, meanwhile, has a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six engine rated for 322 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque, enough to send it to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds with the six-speed manual transmission or 4.8 seconds with the eight-speed automatic's Launch Control function. Top speed is limited to 155 mph. Fuel economy for the M235i is expected to be 22/32 mpg with the automatic and 19/28 mpg with the manual transmission.
As the performance-minded version, the BMW M235i also comes standard with larger brakes, a bolder body kit, two-mode adaptive suspension dampers, staggered 18-inch wheels with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, variable-effort sport steering, and a 0.4-inch lower ride height than the 228i. Customers can opt for 19-inch M Performance wheels; an M Performance suspension that lowers the suspension another 0.4 inch and has firmer shock absorbers and red-painted springs; and an M Sport braking upgrade with larger cross-drilled brake discs, four-piston front/two-piston rear brake calipers, and a choice of red, orange, or yellow-painted calipers. As standard, a function called Active Differential Brake (ABD-Sport) uses the brakes to control wheel spin, but customers can also pay extra for a mechanical limited-slip differential.
Visually, the BMW M235i stands out thanks to the aforementioned body kit, which includes special aerodynamic fins in place of the 228i's foglights. Front sport seats, a leather-wrapped M steering wheel, an anthracite headliner, aluminum interior trim, and leather wraps for the parking brake lever and shifter distinguish the interior. The M235i can also be optioned in Estoril Blue paint, as well as any of the 12 colors offered on the 228i. It also scores blue trim on the key fob and unique red graphics for the instrument cluster.
With the 2014 2 Series, BMW has taken the virtues of the outgoing 1 Series coupe's smaller size and sporty profile and updated it with the performance, technology, and design from the rest of the brand's lineup. While the 228i's impressive fuel economy and reasonable entry price will provide a stepping stone for many new BMW customers, we're most excited for the high performance on offer from the M235i. It picks up the torch for BMW performance two-doors and will tide us over until the eventual M4 coupe and M3 sedan arrive.
Pricing for the 2014 BMW 228i coupe starts at $33,025, including a $925 destination charge, while the M235i costs $44,025.