Browse over 9,000 car reviews

BMW 218i Gran Coupe 2023 review

The 218i looks like its 1 Series hatch twin from the front, but the rear ends differ considerably. (Image: Tim Nicholson)

Daily driver score

3.5/5

Urban score

3.5/5

You’d be forgiven for thinking there aren’t many sedans left on sale in Australia, thanks to the massive shift in buyer preference to SUVs.

But while mainstream carmakers like Ford, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Volkswagen and a lot more have scaled back their booted offerings, premium brands are yet to give up on sedans.

BMW alone has seven sedan models in its line-up ranging from small offerings like the 2 Series Gran Coupe all the way up to the 7 Series and 8 Series.

We are focusing on the former for this review, in entry level 218i guise. It’s a sleek sedan that certainly catches the eye, but can it compete with similarly priced SUVs in our crossover-loving country?

Does it represent good value for the price? What features does it come with?

Determining whether the BMW 218i Gran Coupe represents good value is tricky. Because you can get any number of small sedans from mainstream brands - like the Mazda3, Toyota Corolla, Subaru Impreza and more - for much less money, but with similar, or in some cases, more kit.

But if you’ve been 'glamoured' by the BMW badge and couldn’t possibly buy something non-European, the good news is the Bavarian brand is much better at including standard features than it used to be.

Could there be more standard gear for the price in this car? Absolutely. But, it’s not a slim features list either.

The price difference between the 218i sedan and the 118i hatchback is $7000. (Image: Tim Nicholson) The price difference between the 218i sedan and the 118i hatchback is $7000. (Image: Tim Nicholson)

The 218i kicks off the 2 Series Gran Coupe line-up from $56,900, before on-road costs. From there you can step up into the 220i ($59,900) which gets a little more power and torque, and then there’s the sporty M235i xDrive Gran Coupe in Pure ($74,900) and regular guise ($79,900).

The price difference between the 218i sedan and the 118i hatchback I reviewed recently, is $7000. That is a massive uptick in price for a vehicle that, underneath, is identical. Essentially you’re paying for the boot.

It’s especially surprising when you consider the price gap between the hatch and sedan versions of its chief rival - the Mercedes-Benz A-Class A180 - is just $1700. While the Audi A3 35 TFSI sedan is only $2500 more than the Sportback hatch.

A lot of mainstream brands don’t charge any extra for a sedan body style over the hatch model in the small segment. Take a bow Mazda3, Kia Cerato and Toyota Corolla.

So what do you get for the money?

It comes with 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and fog lights, M aerodynamics package, M Sport suspension, wireless smartphone charging, an auto-dimming rear-view mirror, single-zone climate control, rain-sensing wipers, a head-up display, leather steering wheel, sports seats, a six-speaker audio system, a 10.25-inch digital instrument cluster, and a 10.25-inch multimedia screen with satellite navigation, digital radio and Apple CarPlay

  • Inside is a 10.25-inch multimedia screen. (Image: Tim Nicholson) Inside is a 10.25-inch multimedia screen. (Image: Tim Nicholson)
  • The 218i has 18-inch alloy wheels. (Image: Tim Nicholson) The 218i has 18-inch alloy wheels. (Image: Tim Nicholson)
  • The 218i has LED headlights and fog lights. (Image: Tim Nicholson) The 218i has LED headlights and fog lights. (Image: Tim Nicholson)

The list is basically identical to the 118i hatch. As I discovered with my 118i review, the standard gear is of a similar level to the Audi A3 35 TFSI sedan (from $49,400) and Mercedes-Benz A180 sedan (from $51,589), which are both cheaper.

Two options were fitted to our test car - ‘Dakota’ leather trim with a black interior colour ($2200) and a panoramic sunroof ($2000), bringing the price to $61,100, before on-roads.

Is there anything interesting about its design?

From the front, the 2 Series Gran Coupe carries the same face as the handsome 1 Series hatchback. But from the A-pillar back, it’s a completely different look. 

BMW’s ‘Gran Coupe’ series of models - 2, 4 and 8 Series - are not just regular sedans. They are sleeker, with a coupe-like sloping roofline and a more squat stance. It’s BMW’s way of making sedans sexy. And it has worked on each of those models.

The 218i’s rear has wide slimline tail-lights and an integrated boot lip spoiler. (Image: Tim Nicholson) The 218i’s rear has wide slimline tail-lights and an integrated boot lip spoiler. (Image: Tim Nicholson)

The 218i’s boot sits up high and the rear treatment with the wide slimline tail-lights and integrated boot lip spoiler make the car visually appealing. I prefer the look of the 1 Series hatch, but appreciate the sleek sedan.

As with the hatch, the 218i’s interior is a modern take on the unmistakable BMW cabin, and for the most part it’s a successful design.

How practical is the space inside?

The main key difference between the 1 and 2 Series is the boot capacity. But in terms of interior appointments, not much separates the two.

Our 218i test car was optioned with black ‘Dakota’ leather trim, which does not look or feel particularly premium. The blue pattern trim in the 118i hatch was much more visually appealing, helping to break up the dark greys of the cabin. But in the 218i, it just makes everything look rather dark and gloomy.

As with the 118i, the BMW 'iDrive' controller and multimedia touchscreen are top notch, all controls come to hand easily, and the dash is angled to the driver. For more details on the interior, check out my 118i review.

The Gran Coupe has less headroom compared with the hatch, due to the sloping roofline and the optional sunroof. (Image: Tim Nicholson) The Gran Coupe has less headroom compared with the hatch, due to the sloping roofline and the optional sunroof. (Image: Tim Nicholson)

The bigger differences are in the second row. The Gran Coupe has less headroom compared with the hatch, due to the sloping roofline and the optional sunroof.

Both body styles share the same 2670mm wheelbase, which should mean legroom is the same. For some reason the 218i feels ever so slightly tighter in the rear, but we are splitting hairs here.

Rear-seat occupants have access to two USB-C ports, map pockets and, unlike the hatchback, the Gran Coupe has a central fold-down armrest with two cupholders. Tall bottles will fit in the door storage compartment. Sadly the 218i lacks any rear air vents.

The boot capacity measures at 430 litres. (Image: Tim Nicholson) The boot capacity measures at 430 litres. (Image: Tim Nicholson)

The doors also have a smaller aperture, so it’s not as easy to get in and out of compared to the hatch.

The rear seats fold 60/40 via levers in boot. Speaking of which, the boot can swallow 430 litres of cargo, which easily exceeds the 380L capacity of the 118i hatch. It also matches the boot space in the Mercedes-Benz A180 sedan and is just five litres bigger than the Audi A3 35 TFSI sedan.

What are the key stats for the engine and transmission?

Mirroring the 118i, the 218i uses BMW’s three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine, with power and torque outputs of 103kW and 220Nm, respectively. This compares to 110kW/250Nm for the base Audi A3 and 100kW/200Nm for the Mercedes-Benz A-Class.

The 218i uses a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission driving the front wheels only.

According to BMW, the 218i can complete the 0-100km/h dash in 8.7 seconds - 0.2sec slower than the hatch.

The 218i uses BMW’s three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine. (Image: Tim Nicholson) The 218i uses BMW’s three-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine. (Image: Tim Nicholson)

How much fuel does it consume?

On the official combined fuel cycle, the 218i uses 5.9 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres - the same as the 118i hatch. After a week of mixed driving, I recorded a figure of 9.1L/100km, which is quite a bit more than that official figure.

In terms of CO2 the official emissions figure is 135g/km and the 218i requires 95 RON premium fuel for its 50-litre fuel tank.

What safety equipment is fitted? What safety rating?

The 2 Series Gran Coupe carries over the maximum five-star ANCAP crash safety rating awarded to the mechanically related 1 Series hatch. The test was conducted in 2019.

Standard safety equipment includes low-speed auto emergency braking, forward collision warning, lane departure warning, rear cross-traffic alert, driver attention alert, front and rear parking sensors, reversing camera, cruise control, and six airbags - although it doesn’t include a front centre airbag.

The 218i carries over the maximum five-star ANCAP crash safety rating. (Image: Tim Nicholson) The 218i carries over the maximum five-star ANCAP crash safety rating. (Image: Tim Nicholson)

What does it cost to own? What warranty is offered?

The 218i comes with BMW’s three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty - a term that is well behind the majority of its competitors that offer five-year/unlimited kilometre cover. 

Rather than an annual service schedule, BMW uses ‘condition-based servicing’, which essentially means that the vehicle’s computer will inform you when the car needs a service.

BMW’s 'Service Inclusive' pre-paid plan covers owners for five years or 80,000km for the 2 Series, and involves a $1700 up-front payment. It averages out to $340 per service, which is actually pretty reasonable for a high-end brand.

What's it like to drive around town?

If you love the look of the 2 Series Gran Coupe but are after an extra dollop of performance, the all-wheel drive 225kW/450Nm M235i xDrive is the pick of the range.

But don’t think the 218i is a lazy performer - it’s far from it.

The 218i’s acceleration is responsive, even quick, and it offers more than enough straight-line performance to satisfy most drivers. 

Steering is weighted on the heavier side but it is sharp. (Image: Tim Nicholson) Steering is weighted on the heavier side but it is sharp. (Image: Tim Nicholson)

On take-off there is some turbo lag, which isn’t helped by the fuel-saving idle-stop system, however that can be switched off, which we did every time we got behind the wheel.

Momentum was a little blunted by a steep hill, but other than that, no complaints about the sweet engine.

Steering is weighted on the heavier side but it is sharp.

The 218i has excellent road-holding grip. (Image: Tim Nicholson) The 218i has excellent road-holding grip. (Image: Tim Nicholson)

As is expected of a BMW sedan, the 218i is engineered for engaging handling, and the balanced chassis and well-tuned suspension set-up encourage enthusiastic driving.  

Excellent road-holding and grip ensured it did not come unstuck on uneven roads and overall the 218i feels really solid. Those front-wheel drive naysayers have officially been put in their place!

'Sport' mode livens things up with a noticeable improvement to throttle response.

The ride seems more supple at speed, but can feel on the firmer side in urban driving. But nothing that would strike it from your shopping list.

The sleek 2 Series Gran Coupe has injected some life into the sedan segment and adds another dimension to BMW’s line-up.

After spending a week with the 118i hatch and another week with the 218i Gran Coupe, I would pick the hatch because it suits my needs better and has a more understated design, at least from the A-pillar back.

But there is little to fault in the 218i, aside from the obviously higher price compared with a mainstream sedan like a Mazda3. But, as with the hatch, if you want something a little more premium and a little more special, then this funky sedan is well worth considering.

$53,790 - $61,820

Based on third party pricing data

VIEW PRICING & SPECS

Daily driver score

3.5/5

Urban score

3.5/5
Price Guide

$53,790 - $61,820

Based on third party pricing data

Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.