Niche-busting BMW 2-series Gran Coupe unveiled

Published: 15 October 2019

► New baby Gran Coupe unveiled
► Based on the same platform as 1 Series Hatchback
► On sale now, priced from around £25,000

Not one to miss out on a growing sector of the market, BMW has unveiled the smallest entrant into its ‘Gran Coupe’ sub-genre of models. Designed to rival the Mercedes-Benz CLA – and to a lesser extent the Audi A3 Saloon – the 2-series Gran Coupe uses an entirely different platform to the existing two-door coupe.  

It’s actually the same UKL2 underpinnings as the 1-series Hatchback, making the 2 Gran Coupe effectively a four-door 1-series in disguise. That means – yep you’ve guessed it – the 2-series Gran Coupe is front-wheel drive, just like the 1-series. So that means no rear-wheel drive or longitudinally mounted straight-six engines on offer. Boo hiss. BMW, though, reckons that most 2-series Gran Coupe customers really won’t mind that much as long as the car is still unmistakeably BMW. And we don’t doubt it for a second.

Does that mean the new 2-series Coupe will be front-wheel drive?

No, sources within BMW have indicated that the replacement to the 2-series Coupe won’t share the same platform as the 1 Series and will instead use the manufacturer’s CLAR blueprint. Therefore, big, smokey, rear-wheel drive burnouts could still be a thing on future M2s. Phew. 

But what about the 2-series Gran Coupe?

You know how we said it’s effectively a 1-series Gran Coupe? We weren’t kidding. The front end is almost identical, with only the elongated bootlid jutting out at the back giving the game away. It’s a reasonably clean look, but it certainly won’t be for everyone. We can’t be the only ones to see a slammed BMW X4 in its styling, can we? 

Engines are from the 1-series, so you’re getting an entry-level 218i (140hp 1.5-litre three cylinder), a meaty 220d diesel (190hp 2.0-litre) and the flagship M235i xDrive packing 306hp from a 2.0-litre four cylinder. Oddly, gearbox options are as numerous as the engines they’re attached to, meaning you’ve got a six-speed manual on offer as well as seven- or eight-speed Steptronic automatics. 

All 2-series Gran Coupe versions also get ARB wheel slip limitation and BMW Performance Control – the former working to improve traction and reduce power understeer and the latter braking the inside wheel during hard cornering in order to improve agility.

Does it feel any different to the 1-series?

We’ll have to wait until we drive it before we give a definitive answer, but since the 2-series Gran Coupe is longer and wider than the 1-series Hatchback, you do get more space in the back. Six footers will still struggle to fit thanks to the sloping roofline, but the extra two doors certainly make ingress and egress easier.

Meanwhile, bootspace is 430 litres (up 40 litres over the 2-series Coupe), plus there’s clever storage solutions such as a concealed compartment under the boot floor and 40:20:40 folding rear seats. 

When can I buy one?

On sale now, the 2-series Gran Coupe is available in three trim variants (Sport, M Sport and M235i xDrive) with the cheapest (Sport 218i) starting from around £25,000. Deliveries start in March 2020. 

What do we know so far about the new BMW 2-series family?

It’ll use the UKL2 front-wheel drive platform like the new 1-series, X1 and X2 SUVs and the Mini Countryman. Although it’s primarily designed as a front-wheel drive car, there will be the option of BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive system. We’re afraid the rear-driven layout will be no more from this generation.

The BMW 2-series Gran Coupe reportedly carries the model codename F44, and will be approximately 4.5 metres in length – similar to that of the Audi A3 Saloon. While the camouflage doesn’t give much away, a ‘two-eyes’ headlamp design reminiscent of the classic BMW 2002 has been rumoured.

In a statement, BMW also makes note of ‘fuel consumption, CO2 emissions and electric power consumption figures’ have been done in the usual EU regulation format. The mention of electric consumption could hint at plug-in or electric variants. Given the 2-series will be on the same platform as the Mini Countryman, a plug-in 2er like the Countryman Cooper S E ALL4 hybrid could be offered.

Hot models to feature all-wheel-drive

The majority of the pictures in the gallery are of what appears to be a base model, but our spies have also spotted what’s believed to be a development car for the M Performance package on test, pictured below, with lower bumpers, hungrier air intakes and bigger wheels.

The car pictured is also likely to be fitted with a more powerful engine, with larger oblong exhaust outlets in place of the regular car’s round tailpipes.

Expect racier 2-series GC variants to come with xDrive-branded all-wheel drive, but not necessarily a six-cylinder engine as seen in the current BMW M140i – sadly, it’s unlikely to physically fit in a transverse, front-drive orientation.

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By CAR's road test team

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