If one is good, two must be better, right? Or twice as good. The question is whether that simple equation adds up for BMW's upgraded 1 and 2 Series siblings – the former, a range of five-door hatches, the latter, a line-up of cabriolets and coupes, with a major addition in the shape of the full-house, performance-focused M2.
Prices are up, and changes are mostly under the skin, so you're not getting big visual bang for your extra bucks. But the new and improved 2 has plenty to offer when it comes to added spec and tech.
BMW invited us to the new car's Australian launch program along Tasmania's wet and wild west coast.
BMW 2 Series 2017: 220i Luxury Line
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Is there anything interesting about its design? 8/10
The biggest visual clue to the revised 2 Series is the circular design bi-LED headlights, now standard on the 2 Series entry 220i, and mid-range 230i models, while hexagonal adaptive LEDs are standard on the top-shelf M240i.
But BMW couldn't leave those little light-emitting diodes alone, with LED front fog lights joining one-piece L-shaped LED tail-lights across the range.
Luxury Line-equipped cars feature a subtly revised nose treatment with larger intakes and a reshaped 'kidney' grille. There are also four new alloy wheel designs – a 17-inch alloy fitted standard to the 220i Luxury Line, and three optional M alloys for M Sport models (all no-cost options on the M240i).
BMW for the people: The 2 Series is the stylin' Beemer you can afford. (230i M Sport variant pictured)
You’re not getting big visual bang for your extra bucks. But the new and improved 2 has plenty to offer when it comes to added spec and tech. (230i M Sport variant pictured)
18-inch alloy rims come as standard on the 230i M Sport.
The 230i M Sport features black, high-gloss bars in its kidney grille, as well as a black chrome finish for the exhaust finishers.
On the inside, there's the addition of a 'Black Panel' digital instrument cluster, which remains matt with the ignition off, and lights up with sharp graphics, configurable across conventional speed and rev readouts, as well as gear position, engine-efficiency data, vehicle settings and nav guidance.
There are also high-gloss finishes across the centre stack and front console, and even greater attention to detail around panel joins, trim stitching and switchgear.
The M2 has adrenalin flowing through its veins at all times. (M2 coupe pictured)
Rolling on 19-inch, ultra-high-performance Michelin semi-slick rubber the M2 is never going to waft like a limousine.
But the hero is the latest iDrive6 multimedia system, run through an 8.8-inch colour touchscreen (6.5-inch on 220i), providing access to live content, radio and audio, navigation and maps, phone functionality, and vehicle settings through a simple and customisable app-style interface. The iPhone really as inspired car companies.
The M2 boasts M-specific instrument display content and a go-fast red needle on the tachometer.
Surprisingly, at a little over 4.4 metres long, the 2 Series (Coupe) is around 10cm longer than its 1 Series hatch stablemate (M240i +15cm), but aligns with its just under 1.8m width, and 1.4m height.
It seats four, with plenty of room up front and multiple storage options, including two cupholders in the console with an oddments tray behind, a 12-volt outlet, a lidded storage box between the seats with USB connection, a reasonably sized glove box, and segmented bins in the doors big enough for large water bottles.
The 230i M Sport interior features high-gloss finishes across the centre stack and front console, and even greater attention to detail around panel joins, trim stitching and switchgear.
While it was coupes only on the launch drive, we know the convertible has a pair of cupholders in the back, but not so in the coupe, and while headroom in the soft-top is okay (especially with the roof down) it's a squeeze in the hardtop.
More a 2+2 than a full four-seater, getting into the rear is an athletic exercise, and once installed, leg and headroom for this 183cm tester is tight. That said, kids up to teenager-size would be fine.
Boot volume is 390 litres (a 3 Series Coupe is 480 litres), with run-flat tyres on the 220i and 230i meaning there's no spare (or repair kit) under the floor, but the performance-focused M240i and M2, pack a 'BMW Mobility Kit' (compressor and tyre sealant to cover minor damage) in line with their high-performance (non-run-flat rubber).
Getting into the rear is an athletic exercise, and once installed, leg and headroom for this 183cm tester is tight. (M2 coupe pictured)
A 60/40 split-folding rear backrest liberates extra load space, and a 'Through Loading System' with luggage compartment dividing net, and 40/20/40 split-folding rear seat is optionally available (220i & M2 Pure - $350 / 230i - $385 / M240i & M2 - $500).
And if you're keen on towing the 220i can pull 680kg of unbraked trailer, and 1500kg braked, with the minimum number stepping up to 715kg for the 230i. The M240i and M2 are no-tow zones.
Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with? 8/10
The 2 Series coupe and convertible line-up ranges across four-cylinder, turbo-petrol models, in 220i Luxury Line, and 230i M Sport grades, with the six-cylinder M240i sitting at the top of the main line-up. Then for the more single-minded enthusiast, there's the hardcore M2; after a year on-sale it's now BMW Australia's best-selling M car (and it's easy to see why; it's fantastic).
Depending on the model, prices have risen by between $1100 and $1900 across the main range, largely because of the extra equipment, especially the tricky iDrive6 multimedia system.
At $52,990 for the coupe and $59,900 for the convertible version, the 220i Luxury Line is the entry-point to the 2 Series range. Equipment highlights include 17-inch light-alloy wheels, the previously mentioned LED headlights and fog lights, 'Driving Assistant' functionality (combines camera-based 'Lane Departure Warning and Approach' and 'Pedestrian Warning with the City Brake Activation'), digital radio, 'Navigation System Business' with 'iDrive6' accessed via a 6.5-inch display, dual-zone climate control air, reversing camera, a leather sports steering wheel, sports front seats, 'Dakota' leather upholstery, plus front and rear parking sensors.
Next rung on the 2 Series ladder is the 230i M Sport in Coupe ($63,000) and Convertible ($73,000) form, which adds M Sport suspension, aero, and brakes, 'Variable Sport Steering', 18-inch alloy rims, high-gloss 'Shadow line' exterior trim, a BMW Individual anthracite roofliner, a leather-wrapped M Sport steering wheel, cloth/Alcantara upholstery in the coupe, 'Dakota' leather and front seat heating in the convertible, electric (front) seat adjustment, plus 'Navigation System Professional' with iDrive6 and a customisable 8.8-inch touchscreen.
As its name implies, the M2 Pure ($93,300) makes spec sacrifices in the name of light weight.
Opt for the M240i as a Coupe ($76,800) or Convertible ($85,800), and you're getting more than extra performance from the 3.0-litre turbo six. On top of the lengthy equipment list detailed above, you'll also pick up 18-inch alloys in 'Bicolour Jet Black', 12-speaker, 360W harman/kardon surround sound audio, 'Adaptive M Suspension', 'Adaptive LED Headlights', the Dakota leather trim, and front-seat heating.
As its name implies, the M2 Pure ($93,300) makes spec sacrifices in the name of light weight, including manual seat adjustment and a base (yet, still seven-speaker) audio package, but one of the biggest pay-offs is a standard six-speed manual gearbox. Save the manuals!
It also features 19-inch BMW M light alloy wheels, an M rear spoiler, quad exhaust pipes in high-gloss chrome, bi-LED headlights (with variable light distribution, including cornering lights), 'Dakota' leather upholstery, carbon fibre trim finishers, an M leather multi-function steering wheel, cruise control (with braking function), 'Driving Assistant', 'Rear Park Distance Control', and a reversing camera.
The full-fat M2 Coupe ($99,900) reinstates electric seat adjustment, plugs in the 12-speaker, 360W harman/kardon sound system, and adds 'Comfort access' (keyless entry and start), 'Adaptive LED Headlights' (with variable light distribution), and 'Selective Beam with anti-glare High-Beam Assistant'.
A vast array of individual options and packages covers everything from steering-wheel heating to a smoker's kit (naughty), and (amazingly, given it's standard on the Hyundai Accent) Apple CarPlay (220i & M2 Pure - $436 / 230i - $479 / M240i & M2 - $623).
What are the key stats for the engine and transmission? 9/10
The 220i is powered by a 2.0-litre 'TwinScroll' turbo-petrol four, featuring 'Valvetronic' variable valve control and 'Double-VANOS' variable camshaft control, and developing 135kW at 5000rpm, and 270Nm between 1350-4600rpm.
Using a retuned version of the same engine (lower compression ratio, more turbo boost), the 230i pumps out a solid 185kW at 5200rpm, and a grunty 350Nm from just 1450-4800rpm.
The same (8HP50) eight-speed auto transmission is used across the board, pushing drive to the rear wheels only.
Then, the M240i is powered by a 3.0-litre, six-cylinder, turbo-petrol, pushing out no less than 250kW at 5500rpm, and a thumping 500Nm between 1520-4500rpm.
The full-house M2's 3.0-litre turbo six produces 272kW at 6500rpm, and 465Nm from just 1400-5650rpm (500Nm from 1450-4750rpm on overboost), driving the rear wheels through a seven-speed dual-clutch auto, although a six speed-manual is a no-cost option (and standard on the M2 Pure).
How much fuel does it consume? 8/10
Claimed fuel consumption for the 220i Coupe, on the combined (ADR 81/02 - urban, extra-urban) cycle, is 5.9L/100km, emitting 135g/km of C02 in the process. The 220i Convertible rates 6.1L/100km (140g/km).
The 230i Coupe is line-ball with that at 5.9L/100km (134g/km), and the the 230i Convertible at 6.2L/100km (142g/km).
The price of performance starts to bite with the M240i consuming 7.1L/100km (163g/km) in coupe form, and 7.4L/100km (169g/km) as a convertible.
Then, as you might expect, the M2 is thirstiest of all, the dual-clutch auto consuming 7.9L/100km (185g/km), while the six-speed manual version slurps 8.5L/100km (199g/km).
Auto start-stop is standard, fuel tank capacity is 52 litres across the board, and although technically these engines can run on anything from 91-98RON unleaded, BMW recommends 95RON premium as a minimum.
What's it like to drive? 8/10
Four 2 Series variants were offered for the launch drive program, a 230i Coupe (which BMW nominates as the most popular model in the range), M240i Coupe, M2, and M2 Pure.
Claimed 0-100km/h acceleration of 5.6sec for the 230i M Sport Coupe is quick, with the convertible stopping the clocks three tenths later.
Peak torque of 350Nm is plenty, and with that number available from 1450-4800rpm the mid-spec 2 Series is an entertaining drive.
It's M Sport (strut front, five-link rear) suspension keeps the body well buttoned down in quick going, while the beefier M brakes provide strong and progressive stopping power.
But 350Nm is plenty of torque, and with that peak number available from 1450-4800rpm the mid-spec 2 Series is an entertaining drive.
Claimed 0-100km/h acceleration of 7.2sec for the 230i M Sport Coupe puts it in the quick, rather than genuinely rapid category.
Even a firm squeeze of the throttle can't side-step some hesitation as the turbo spools up before right foot pressure translates into forward momentum, but despite the sporty tune, ride quality is good (even riding on notoriously harsh 18-inch run-flat rubber), while response and road feel from the variable-ratio steering are excellent.
The eight-speed auto is beautifully slick, with manual changes, via wheel-mounted paddles, sharp and positive.
Add the grippy leather sports wheel, snug sports front seats, and racy cloth/Alcantara trim (leather in the convertible), and you have a comfortable, nicely balanced and fun-to-drive package.
Accelerating from 0-100km/h in 4.6sec (convertible 4.7sec), the M240i effortlessly achieves 'genuinely rapid' status. Yes, it's fast, but never furious, in the sense that even under the pressure of enthusiastic peddling it remains civilised and composed.
Maximum torque of 500Nm is not to be sneezed at, and when you realise that mountainous maximum is actually a flat-top plateau stretching from only 1520rpm up to 4500rpm, satisfying urge is never far away. And the flexible 3.0-litre turbo-six is an aural treat as it howls its way towards a 7000rpm rev ceiling.
The standard 'Adaptive M Suspension' offers settings from 'Comfort' through to 'Sport+', but even in the most forgiving mode the car remains taut and communicative.
The 18-inch rims, shod with Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber (225/40 front / 245/35 rear) don't upset the ride as much as you'd expect, although coarse-chip surfaces send rumble through to the cabin.
Try not to smile as that g-force shoves you back in your seat. You won’t succeed. (M2 coupe pictured)
The M2 is all business, with a properly focused feel, and the ability to accelerate from 0-100km/h in a claimed 4.5sec for the six-speed manual.
In terms of ergonomics and general function, the new iDrive6 system is simple and intuitive to use, the current BMW dash and console layout is a model of efficiency, but the two-stage (depress small button on stubby lever, then shift) process to select drive or reverse can be a frustratingly hit-and-miss affair if you need to get going quickly.
Then, the M2 is all business, with a properly focused feel, and the ability to accelerate from 0-100km/h in a claimed 4.5sec for the six-speed manual, and just 4.3sec for the seven-speed dual-clutch. Try not to smile as that g-force shoves you back in your seat. You won't succeed.
Although peak power arrives at a relatively high 6500rpm, maximum torque of 465Nm (500Nm for limited periods on overboost) is ready for action across a broad spread from 1400-5650rpm, so the M2 has adrenalin flowing through its veins at all times.
An electronically controlled 'Active M Differential' manages torque distribution across the rear axle to optimise power down, with the ability to send anywhere from zero to 100 percent of drive to either back wheel.
The 'M Servotronic' steering, switchable through comfort and sport modes, is feelsome and linear in its response, the mega 'M Compound Brake' package (borrowed from big-brother M4) is professional grade, and while the seven-speed dual-clutch may shift faster, snicking up and down the manual's six ratios is a rare pleasure.
Rolling on 19-inch, ultra-high-performance Michelin semi-slick rubber (255/35 front / 275/35 rear) the M2 is never going to waft like a limousine, but if you're signing on for this kind of performance and dynamic ability, some ride harshness over less than perfect surfaces goes with the territory.
Warranty & Safety Rating
3 years / unlimited km
What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating? 9/10
Across the mainstream 2 Series line-up (220i to M240i) driver-assistance tech including AEB, forward-collision warning, pedestrian-detection and lane-departure warning is standard.
There are also 'Approach Control Warning', 'Attentiveness Assistant', and 'Pedestrian warning' systems, plus 'Dynamic braking lights, DSC, ABS, 'Braking Assistant', 'Cornering Brake Control' (CBC), 'Dynamic Traction Control' (DTC), cruise control with braking function, a reversing camera, 'Park Distance Control' (PDC) rear (front and rear on 120i and up), and run-flat safety tyres (including a run-flat indicator) for the 220i and 230i. Tyre pressure monitoring is standard on the M240i and M2.
There are two child restraint top tethers across the back seat, with ISOFIX anchor points in each position.
On the passive safety side, all 2 Series models feature airbags for the front, side and head, as well as 'Intelligent Emergency Call' assistance.
The current BMW 2 Series Coupe/Convertible hasn't been tested by ANCAP or EuroNCAP.
What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered? 8/10
BMW uses 'condition-based' servicing, with the car effectively telling you when it's time to visit the workshop, but the 'BMW Service Inclusive' program offers distance and time options to fix maintenance costs (on a 'Basic' or 'Plus' plan) for up to 10 years/200,00km.
For example, a five year/80,000km service package for the 2 Series costs $1340 for the Basic option (oil service/top-up, annual vehicle check, microfilter, air filter, fuel filter, brake fluid, spark plugs), and $3550 for the Plus pack (adds brake pads and discs, wipers rubbers, and clutch disc and plate).
The standard BMW warranty covers three years/unlimited km.
The BMW 2 Series coupes and convertibles combine understated good looks with great dynamics and top-shelf quality. Extra equipment, especially the iDrive6 multimedia system, has brought it up to speed in terms of tech and value, while the M240i sets the compact performance benchmark. And if you really want to push the envelope, the M2 is right there at the top of the under $100k performance pyramid.
Is BMW's upgraded 2 Series on the compact sports-luxury car pace? Tell us what you think in the comments below.