May 15, 2021
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BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe

The entry level luxury cars is an important segment that BMW had been missing out all these years while rivals like the Mercedes CLA and Audi A3 have been racking up good  numbers. While the sensible ones among us would buy a Superb or Camry at that price point, there are people who can’t resist the  allure of a prestigious German brand. Cars like these are important to get a certain breed of new customers into these brands and their attractive price point  makes them relatively affordable to an elite aspirational buyer. We know the next gen Audi A3 may take some time and Mercedes will be bringing the new A class sedan instead of the CLA, so the 2 series Gran Coupe can enjoy its time as the only offering in its class, for a while.

The BMW 2 series Gran Coupe is based on the new front wheel drive 1 series hatchback platform. It is a similar chassis as used by the X1 and several Mini models. The styling is modern BMW and takes inspiration from the larger 8 series Gran Coupe. You can see some
Asian influence in the overall design and truth be told, from the sides, it could pass of as an Elantra or the next gen Verna. Unlike the controversially big grilles on other cars, BMW uses an inverted trapezoidal grille in its sportier models like the Z4 and 8 series and that’s what the 2 series Gran Coupe gets too.
The LED headlamps are angular and have twin elements inside them. The bumper extends all the way to the top of the headlamps and merge with the relatively small bonnet. The sides are quite aggressive and a stark departure from the traditional long bonnet, cab backward rear wheel drive proportions we have loved of BMW sedans.
The rear is much higher and has thin tail lamps that sit below an integrated spoiler and above the recessed number plate area underneath. The M sport version we tested,
has great looking 18 inch wheels, deeper bumpers and more aggressive air intakes
giving it a sportier character.

Open the frameless doors and you are welcomed by what is unmistakeably modern BMW interiors. The design of the dash is quite similar to the bigger BMWs of the current generation. Quality is also up there with everything feeling solid and well made. What you won’t like, is the space at the rear. The seat itself is quite low and while legroom is fine, there is so little headroom and the middle seat is best left, unoccupied. The seat back is a bit upright and to liberate some room, BMW has provided two small recesses for your head, in the roof lining. It is best suited for children and most owners would enjoy this car from the front seats which are quite nice. It offers electrically adjustable side bolstering and an extendable thigh support. The digital dashboard with the reversed tachometer still hasn’t grown on me, but liberates space in the middle for navigation and other data. The minimalist controls on the dashboard for the dual zone AC and music system are good and so is the ambient lighting strips with a built-in design. The 10.25 inch touch screen comes with ‘Hey  BMW’ voice assistant and gesture controls but only Apple Car Play and no Android Auto. Other kit include wireless charging, park assist, rear view camera, panoramic sunroof, six air bags etc.

The 2 series Gran Coupe will initially only be available as a 220d with a 2.0L four cylinder diesel engine. It produces 190bhp and 400Nm which are channelled to the front wheels  through an 8 speed Aisin automatic. Performance is brisk with 0-100 in 7.4 sec, although it can’t put its power down as well as a 3 series diesel. There is some wheel spin as you floor it every time and it feels more  enthusiastic in Sport mode. Refinement isn’t its strong suit and you do know it’s a diesel underneath. The gearbox is quick to shift up and down on its own and you can do it  manually using the paddles behind the steering wheel too.

The acid test for any BMW is the handling and how it makes you feel from behind the wheel. The switch to front wheel drive architecture will put off many traditional BMW lovers, but BMW says most new buyers for this sort of car won’t care or understand which end of the car, the  power goes to. While it can’t quite match the dynamics of their rear wheel drive sedans, it is still a very sorted front wheel drive car. The chassis is quite agile and with features like cornering brake control, it feels quite sharp to drive. The steering is nicely weighted and very precise, but at times, gets a bit overwhelmed when putting the power  down. Ride quality is also good with the suspension working hard to iron out most road imperfections, but it isn’t as refined as it could be. You can hear it working, and the 18 inch wheels with low profile tyres aren’t really helping it here.

The 2 series Gran Coupe thus, is well made, looks modern, compact enough to be an urban commuter  and fairly engaging to drive. It’s the stepping stone to the world of BMWs. But and this is a big one, it is priced a little too high. For Rs.39.3 lakhs for the Sport and Rs. 41.4  lakhs for the M sport variant we tested, it isn’t the best pricing we have seen from BMW in recent times. A more practical X1 is only Rs. 60,000 to 1.5 lakh rupees more. And if you  are still looking for the best BMW experience, get a proper rear wheel drive sedan like the 3 series. That stonking 330i in Sport trim is only a lakh rupee more than the 2 series  Gran Coupe M Sport and for that you get one of the best driver’s cars on sale today. It’s a no brainer.

Pic Courtesy: google/ images are subject to copyright

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