BMW has launched its 2 Series Gran Coupè, aimed at a younger driver new to the brand, who wants a sporty four-door car. As the current trend is downsizing, BMW has responded by putting the 2GC into its range hoping to capture customers who would be looking at the Audi A3 or Mercedes CLA.

    I-M attended the UK launch and got to grips with the two petrol versions available, 218iM and M235i in the beautiful Cotswolds. BMW see the 218 as their volume seller and the 235 as the top of the range model, with all the bells and whistles.

    Both share the 1 Series platform, with a transverse engine that gives more internal space benefitting all occupants. The sporty look is accentuated by the distinctive shark nose front and LED headlights. At the rear, the lights are also full LED with the 218i having a single chrome exhaust pipe and the M235i dual pipes. The 2 Series GC soaks up the harsh road surfaces to give a smooth and effortless journey. Handling is excellent in both models but I think the front wheel drive 218i  is better and safer taking corners at speed.

    The all-wheel drive M235i X allows you to get the most out of its 306 hp. The result is a thrilling driving experience accompanied by a great engine sound. 140 hp in the 218i is no small amount either, providing plenty of power for the size and weight of the car. There is a 220 diesel available which will be popular for owners doing lots of mileage.

    Looking at the interior, the car is certainly spacious and feels elegant, well finished; the kind of cabin you’d expect in a much more expensive vehicle. The front wheel drive on the 218i and the position of the engine provide plenty of space for driver and passengers alike. Its headroom is better than in the standard 2 Series Coupè and the seating position is a little higher. Load capacity is a generous 430 litres in the boot which can be increased by folding down the rear seats which split 40/20/40. Ambient lighting permits you to control the mood and preferred colour scheme in the cabin, with the added addition of backlit button controls within the door panels.

    The driver has a digital cockpit with many safety and driver assistance features to hand. Great ergonomics facilitate full focus on driving, further aided by the superb Head Up Display that is an option I would wholeheartedly recommend. A 10.25 inch touchscreen display provides all the entertainment and car information you require. Settings and functions can be activated by Gesture control.

    BMW has put together additional optional packs to enhance both driving experience and safety, offering very good value for the benefits you get. Tech and Comfort packs allow buyers to tailor the car to their personal requirements. The Comfort Access system makes it possible to open all of the vehicle doors and the luggage compartment, without using the key. You can use the BMW Digital Key on a compatible smartphone.

    I was impressed with both models even after relatively short journeys in both. They are drivers’ cars aimed at a buyer who doesn’t just own a vehicle for transport, but loves the driving experience itself. Owning a 2 Series Gran Coupè will not disappoint them or any of their passengers. Plenty of room for five people in comfort with a great entertainment system will make every journey pleasant. I would recommend getting the optional packs to enhance driving safety and enjoy the latest technology available.

    218iM: Top speed: 133 mph. Acceleration: 0–62mph in 8.7 seconds. Average MPG: 47 on a combined run. Prices start at £25,000
    M235i: Top speed 155 mph. Acceleration: 0–62mph in 4.8 seconds. Average MPG: 37 on a combined run. Prices start at £36,000



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