The 2020 BMW 2 Series Is the Itty-Bitty Sedan BMW Hopes You Want
Behold: the first front-drive-based BMW *car* in America.
The sky is falling, the world is ending, and doom is imminent for us all! The 2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe, set to go on sale in America early next year, uses a front-wheel-drive platform. Just kidding about the doom and gloom—it's not actually that big of a deal. You know the popular BMW X1 and X2 crossovers are front-drive-based already, right?
Sure, this is the first FWD-based BMW car to make it to the U.S., but the drivetrain layout is hardly surprising—especially since we've already driven the pre-production prototype. Despite its name, the new 2 Series Gran Coupe isn't remotely related to the current rear-drive compact 2 Series coupe that's been on sale here since 2014. This is a variant of the UKL platform that's found under the new 1 Series hatchback sold overseas, the aforementioned small SUVs, and Mini's lineup, and is aimed squarely at yanking sales away from Mercedes' CLA and Audi's A3.
At launch, the new itty-bitty Bimmer is available in both 228i and M235i trims, each packing the same 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine, albeit with different outputs. The 228i offers up a cheeky 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, and is good for a zero-to-60-mph time of 6.0 seconds and a top speed of 130 mph. All-wheel drive is standard, as is an eight-speed automatic transmission, while Vmax can be increased to 151 mph via an option.
The M235i xDrive is predictably meatier. Here, the same 2.0-liter churns up 301 horsepower and a tenderizing 332 lb-ft of torque, dropping the zero-to-60 sprint to 4.7 seconds and raising top speed to 155 mph with the optional performance tires. If you're still not satisfied, you can cut the 60-mph sprint to 4.6 seconds with the optional M Performance Package that includes an overboost function. To eke out that extra gumption, BMW fits the 2.0-liter with a reinforced crankshaft, bigger main bearings, uprated pistons and connecting rods, a larger turbo, high-flow injectors, and an upgraded cooling system.
At 3,534 to 3,603 pounds, the new 2 Series GC isn't featherweight, but BMW did its best to cut weight where it could, offsetting the use of high-strength steel with aluminum hood and trunk panels. There's plenty of trick hardware under the skin to keep things composed, including a multilink rear suspension, optional M Sport Suspension, optional electronically adjustable dampers, and standard near-actuator wheel-slip limitation (ARB)—the latter being a fancy way of saying the ECU handles the traction control, rather than the separate stability-control unit.
It certainly looks the part of the baby Bimmer. Really, it's exactly what you would expect from BMW's CLA competitor; a slightly squished, scaled down 3 Series. There some hints of Toyota Corolla or even Subaru Impreza sedan in its proportions—which isn't exactly great for a premium product—although your eyes are first drawn to the signature kidney grille and skinny BMW taillights. Of course, aluminum wheels and chrome trim are present, too.
Inside, fans of current BMW design language will be pleased. The cockpit is essentially a copy and paste of the interiors and consoles from larger BMW sedans, albeit with different materials and slightly different design. Happily, BMW hasn't shied away from an interesting color palette, so each 2 Series GC is offered in a choice of metallic hues like Melbourne Red, Mineral Grey, Seaside Blue, and Storm Bay. M Sport packages are also available in Misano Blue Metallic and Snapper Ricks Blue Metallic. Inside, Magma Red, Mocha, black with blue highlights or Oyster leather is offered as an upgrade over the standard Sensatec material.
Look for the new 2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe to make its official public debut later this year at the Los Angeles auto show, and for production to begin that same month. Pricing should be revealed closer to the on-sale date.