BMW 2 Series Review

Find out more about the BMW 2 Series in the latest Motors.co.uk Review

Loading...
4
Out of 5

Pros

  • Efficient and potent engines
  • High-quality cabin materials
  • Engaging to drive

Cons

  • Very small rear seats
  • Diesel engines can be noisy
  • A little too expensive
  • MPG

    37 - 113

  • CO2

    42 - 172 g/km

Model review

Although BMW's 2 Series is one of the brand's newest model ranges it hasn't really had the fanfare befitting a new model, because technically it isn't a new model.

The 2 Series came about when BMW restructured its range and naming system. Previously there had been hatchback, coupe and convertible models of the 1 Series, but it was decided BMW's family-oriented vehicles – hatchbacks and estates – should retain their odd numbers but the sportier versions should be moved to have even numbers. Thus the 1 Series coupe and convertible evolved into the 2 Series.

Curiously BMW also offers two MPVs with the 2 Series name – the 2 Series Active Tourer and the 2 Series Gran Tourer – but they're based on a different platform and are unrelated to the coupe and convertible models.

With two bodystyles, the 2 Series has a number of rivals, from coupes like Toyota GT86 and Volkswagen Scirocco to convertibles including the Mercedes-Benz SLC and Mazda MX-5. Audi's TT and the Porsche 718 Cayman and Boxster would also provide alternatives to some of the sprightlier models in the 2 Series range.

A facelift – or 'life cycle impulse' – model will become available in summer 2017.

Latest model

Although it was new for 2014, the 2 Series can be considered a second generation, following on from the 1 Series coupe and convertible.

The 2 Series is based on the same chassis as the 1 Series and shares a significant amount of technology, including engines and much of the interior. The cars bear a strong family resemblance to the 1 Series upon which they're based, along with the larger 4 Series coupe and convertible – it can be difficult to tell between the 4 Series and 2 Series at first glance.

All 2 Series models use BMW's 'TwinPower' range of three, four and six-cylinder petrols and four-cylinder diesels. These range from the entry-level 218i petrol up to the 340hp M240i, with the range topped off by the M2, BMW's smallest official 'M' car. This can hit 60mph in just 4.3 seconds, while the diesel cars can achieve up to 65.7mpg combined.

As is traditional for BMWs, most of the 2 Series range is rear-wheel drive, but certain models can be specified with xDrive four-wheel drive. Unusually, the majority of 2 Series versions are equipped with manual gearboxes, with automatic as an optional extra on most models. Some of the higher-power diesel cars available with automatics.

Although the interior isn't the most imaginative design out there, it's made of high quality materials and is ergonomically sound, with the latest BMW technologies – which is all-important should you choose the convertible model and let the world see in.

Value for money

The 2 Series range starts at £23,530 for the 218i SE coupe, with a 134hp, three-cylinder petrol engine. For this price it is reasonably well-equipped, with 17-inch alloy wheels, start/stop, heated exterior mirrors and washer jets, rear parking sensors, DAB radio, BMW Connected Drive services including navigation, automatic air conditioning and a driving mode selector.

It's the usual BMW fare with the remaining trim levels, with SE giving way to Sport and the M Sport at the top of the range. However, even at this top specification, some things are still optional extras – a reversing camera, dual-zone climate control and cruise control are all additions you'll need to budget for. As is typical for BMW, the options list can be incredibly costly, so beware.

Also in the 2 Series range are the M240i model, which is part of the M Performance brand and has its own trim level with a unique engine, and the high-performance M2 that caps everything off at £45,750.

Like-for-like, this coupe is a little over £2,000 more expensive than the equivalent 1 Series hatchback. Add in the acoustic soft top of the convertible car and that premium increases to nearly £6,000, at £27,130, which seems really rather expensive. The cheapest diesel car – the 218d – is £25,430 for the coupe and £28,790 for the cabriolet.

Running costs are rather variable, with the more frugal 218i, 220i and 220d models having reasonable fuel economy, decent CO2 ratings and – so long as you go for the right specification and don't go mad with the options – pretty strong residuals. The quicker cars are a little harder on the pocket – and don't expect the M240i or M2 to hold their value all that well in the short term.

Looks and image

The perception of BMW is somewhat mixed. On the one hand it's a brand with a majestic racing heritage that's produced some of the most incredible performance road cars in history, but at the same time it's regarded as a low-grade status symbol for the aspirational suburbanite.

BMW offers – free of charge – the facility to remove any model designation badging, so that people can't tell whether you've bought a really expensive version (for the perpetually paranoid) or the cheapest possible car just to say you drive a BMW.

The 2 Series itself is a pretty svelte machine and after a little awkward spell in the early part of the century the brand is making some very good looking machinery (if you ignore the X range of SUVs). The coupes and convertibles – the 2 Series, 4 Series and 6 Series - in particular are stylish and have excellent road presence. Just be prepared to never be let out of a junction ever again.

Space and practicality

The 2 Series is the size of an ordinary small family car – the 1 Series on which it's based is a rival with the Volkswagen Golf and Ford Focus – so there's not a great deal of room available.

Most cars in that class use front-wheel drive in order to maximise cabin space, but the 2 Series is rear-wheel drive and some of the room that would be used in the cabin is taken up by machinery like the prop shaft and differential. Tie that in with the fact it has a plunging rear roofline (at least on the coupe) and you're not looking at a car with a great deal of room inside.

There's only two seats in the back and neither is much use for adults, at least for longer journeys. Access is also terribly difficult, as with any two door car. The boot is decent though, at 390 litres, but again access is the issue.

The boot opening is much smaller than the 1 Series hatchback, and taller items will simply not fit. The convertible roof eats into the space too, reducing it to 280 litres on those models. While the same things apply about access, for raw space it's not too far behind any normal family hatchback.

The 2 Series has never been tested by EuroNCAP so its safety rating is not wholly clear. However the 1 Series on which it's based received five stars when tested in 2012, scoring particularly well in the safety assist and adult and child occupant categories.

Engines

BMW uses a selection of its 'Twin Power' turbocharged engines, both diesel and petrol, in the 2 Series, with three, four and six cylinder variations.

The entry-level unit is a 1.5-litre, three-cylinder petrol that you'll also find in MINI vehicles. Badged as the 218i, its 134hp is enough to push the 2 Series to 60mph in 8.6s (9.2s for the heavier convertible) on its way to a top speed of 130mph. Depending on your specification, it's good for a combined fuel economy of up to 52.3mpg (48.7mpg for the convertible) and 125-139g/km CO2.

Above this is the 2-litre, four-cylinder petrol of the 220i. With 181hp it's notably quicker, hitting 60mph in 6.8s in the coupe and 7.3s in the convertible, but the combined fuel economy is still 43.5-47.1mpg depending on body style and specification. CO2 ratings are 138-149g/km.

A 230i model is also available, using a higher-output version of the same engine. At 248hp, this accomplishes the standard 60mph sprint in 5.6s (5.9s for the convertible) and is limited to a top speed of 155mph. The convertible rates at 41.5mpg combined and 155g/km CO2, while the coupe is slightly more frugal at 44.1mpg and 147g/km.

The only diesel option is a 2-litre four-cylinder, but it comes in a number of different versions.

In the 218d, it's a 148hp engine, with up to 65.7mpg in the coupe and 61.4mpg for the convertible, depending on trim. Top speed is, like the 218i petrol, around 130mph, but it's quicker to 60mph with the clock stopping at 8.2s or 8.7s if you pick the cabriolet.

Despite extracting more power for the 220d version, the fuel economy stays the same. 187hp is enough to shave 1.3s from the 60mph sprint time, and top speeds are now 140mph in the convertible and 143mph for the coupe.

This version also underpins the xDrive models, available in coupe form only. With the four-wheel drive system there's another 0.2s gain for the 60mph time, but economy suffers a little – though 62.8mpg combined is hardly poor.

That leaves the 221hp version, badged as the 225d. Again, this is exclusively available in the coupe, but will hit 60mph in six seconds flat, topping out at 151mph. The fuel economy is slightly down, to 61.4mpg, but CO2 ratings are still just 121g/km, which keeps the road tax low.

The M240i is powered by a three-litre, six-cylinder petrol engine with 335hp, which brings the 60mph sprint under five seconds in either body style, and both are limited to 155mph. Emissions and economy are notably worse, at 179g/km CO2 and 36.2mpg for the coupe, and 189g/km CO2 and 34.0mpg in the convertible.

Although the M2 also uses a three-litre, six-cylinder petrol, it's actually a different design from the M240i. Available in the coupe only, the M2 has 365hp, bringing the 60mph time to just 4.3s. 33.2mpg and 199g/km CO2 is the price you pay for the extra performance.

Running costs

Keep it at the lower end of the 2 Series range and you'll find the running costs to be rather impressive.

The diesel cars naturally win for day-to-day costs, as all rate over 60mpg and all fall into the £160 road tax band. Beware the insurance costs of the higher output versions though, as although the thoroughly acceptable 218d sits in group 20 (as does the petrol 218i), the 225d is 12 groups higher!

Keep an eye out for the effects that selecting an automatic instead of a manual will have too – it may save you fuel, but you're unlikely to make the £1,300+ cost of it back.

Maintaining the car shouldn't be greatly expensive either. Although some consumable parts – braking components especially – can get a little costly, it's unusual to need them replacing all that often unless you're driving one of the performance variant. The car is mechanically identical to the 1 Series, so replacement parts ought to be in a decent supply and not too costly.

Things to look out for

There are no known common faults, problems or recalls affecting any of the 2 Series models, and though it is rather a new car, there has been nothing particularly blighting its 1 Series coupe/convertible predecessor either.

The technologies that go into making the cars have also been used on a number of BMW's other vehicles, most obviously the 1 Series, but also the 3 Series and 4 Series – and much of the information technology governing the human interface and infotainment systems is common across the entire BMW parc. This means that it has been tried and tested, but also you should be aware of any faults affecting any BMW vehicle as it may impact on your 2 Series too.

Rivals

The cars that could be considered a 2 Series rival depends on your preferred bodystyle – and perfomance!

The coupe 2 Series is likely to be pitched against cars like the Volkswagen Scirocco, Ford Mustang and Toyota GT86, while the convertible has rivals that include the Mercedes-Benz SLC and Mazda MX-5. Some alternatives are also available in both coupe and convertible, like Audi's TT and the Porsche 718 Cayman and Boxster.

With the M240i and M2, there will be some potential rivals that aren't necessarily in the same form, with performance emphasised over shape. These would include cars like the Ford Focus RS and Volkswagen Golf R.

Depreciation warning

How the 2 Series resists depreciation is very much dependent on what trim, engine, body style and options you pick. The more frugal cars seem to perform quite well second-hand, but you will need to ensure that they're equipped appropriately to maximise the potential.

You'll need to anticipate key kit like cruise control, reversing camera and dual-zone climate control, but also be aware that diesels are stronger than petrols, automatics are stronger than manuals and, despite the British love affair with convertibles, the coupe holds its value better.

Choose everything wisely and you could see around a 50% return after three years. Pick a high-powered petrol convertible then load it with unnecessary gizmos and you may be looking at residuals nearer to 40%.

Which 2 Series to Pick

Cheapest to Buy When New

218i SE 5dr Active Tourer

Most MPG

225xe Sport 5dr Auto Active Tourer

Fastest Model (0-60)

M240i 2dr [Nav] Step Auto

Trims Explained

There are three trim levels of the 2 Series, with special additional specifications for the performance M models.

SE

SE is only available on the entry 218i and 218d models, and is equipped with 17-inch alloy wheels, driving mode selector, BMW Connected Drive (including navigation), DAB radio, automatic air conditioning, rear parking sensors and heated, electrically-adjustable side mirrors.

Prices start from £23,530

Sport

Sport adds a multi-function leather steering wheel, sport seats, a Sport+ mode for the driving mode selector, ambient lighting and a sports instrument cluster

Prices start from £24,530

M Sport

M Sport adds a number of visual upgrades, including an aerodynamic kit, M badging on the body, door sill finishers and gearshift and steering wheel. M Sport suspension is also added, along with 18-inch alloy wheels, and an upgrade to part-Alcantara upholstery.

Prices start from £26,530

M240i

Alongside the engine upgrade, the M240i model includes two-zone automatic air conditioning, leather upholstery, additional exterior styling changes, front foglight deletion and a different style of 18-inch alloy wheels.

Prices start from £35,420

M2

The M2 is similarly more about the powertrain, aerodynamics and M designation than it is about additional equipment, but it does come with 19-inch alloys, cruise control and automatic Xenon headlights.

Prices start from £45,750

Summary

  1. Available as both a coupe and a convertible
  2. Diesel and petrol variants
  3. Manual is standard on most of the range, automatic optional
  4. Expensive options list and includes some essentials
  5. Quattro four-wheel drive is available on many models
  6. M240i and M4 performance models
  7. Small rear seats – and only two of them
  8. 390 litre boot (280 litre in the convertible)
  9. xDrive four-wheel drive option on 225d Coupe
  10. Wide-range of additional specs

Related News

View BMW News Archive
View All Motors.co.uk Reviews