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First impressions: BMW 2-Series Gran Coupe 220d

When the Gran Coupe was delivered, it was parked outside my house and all I could see was the side profile. I mentioned to the delivery driver that I was expecting a BMW, she said, “it is a BMW!” And walking to the front of the car it became blindingly obvious it truly was a BMW, but from the side, it certainly didn’t look like your typical BMW.

The Gran Coupe is basically a four-door saloon with a sloping roof, it has a boot as opposed to it being a Hatch. A hatch generally costs more to produce and adds weight to the car, two things I’m sure BMW wanted to avoid. Also the Gran Coupe will be sold in China and the US, and these countries are traditionally not keen on hatchbacks, they prefer the traditional saloon with a boot lid.

The sloping roof does make it look more Coupe-like, more sporty and adds buckets of appeal. But it does mean that the important interior headroom for rear passengers is reduced. It loses around 4cm, or nearly 2-inches compared to the 1-Series, which doesn’t sound much, but for the average sized adult, it makes the difference between your head touching the roof or not.

The test car Id received was powered by the sweet 220d and coupled to a silky smooth BMW automatic gearbox. The engine produces 190bhp and goes from 0-62mph/100kph in an impressive 7.5 seconds.
After many years of BMW telling us that rear wheel drive gives the perfect balance between front and rear (“the ultimate driving machine”), this is yet another example of a front wheel drive BMW. It suggests front wheel drive could be the new rear wheel drive for BMW and the trend continues. And, there is nothing wrong with Front driven wheels. Why it has taken BMW this long to realise is a mystery. How many times have I seen a BMW stuck in half an inch of snow, when everything else is moving along nicely?

Being front wheel drive means there is no transmission tunnel that runs from front to rear and taking up valuable interior space, a great benefit on a compact car. I would have loved to have been in the meeting room when someone actually dared to suggest making a front wheel drive BMW!

The interior definitely has the upmarket look and feel and quality you would expect from a high end car. The dash and centre console do look a bit cluttered, filled with knobs, buttons etc and it does look a bit busy, there is something going on everywhere. The 2-Series Gran Coupe shares a lot of the underpinnings with the 1-Series, and the interior is virtually the same. Again, I’ say there is nothing wrong with that.

Three engines are available in the range: 318 which has a 3-cylinder petrol, M235i xDrive 4WD petrol and the 220d, so BMW have not over complicated the line up. Trims are also simple; Sport and M Sport, and for only £2,500 more, the M Sport is the one to have, for all the nice goodies you get, for not a lot of money. There is one piece of tech I would like to point out, All Gran Coupes are fitted with Near Actuator Wheel slip limitation (ARB) system. This gently brakes the inside front wheel during cornering to help prevent understeer and in my test I thought it worked well. The boot has a double floor, so does increase the size quite considerably. When you open the boot lid initially it looks tiny with the false floor in the upper position, but lower it, and it becomes acceptable.

The design is very subjective by my own experience of driving it for a week and talking to others. There were a lot of differences of opinion, some absolutely loved it, others weren’t so convinced. One of my neighbours saw it from the side and said: “I like the look of the Honda”, then he saw the large grille and said, “ah… it’s not a Honda is it.”

Prices for the 220d M Sport in the UK start from £34,560 and overall I’d say the 2-Series Gran Coupe is a car that won’t suite everyone. its design adds style but removes practically. The huge front grille adds to its appeal and will sell to a niche audience, but it will also be dismissed by others as it limited in its flexibility, so bear that in mind, but a good looking car nonetheless.

Martin Ward

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