BMW 2 Series (2013-present)

The BMW 2 Series offers a near-perfect blend of style, quality and performance – at a price

Strengths & Weaknesses

Strengths 

Great to drive
Extremely efficient engines
High-quality interior

Weaknesses 

Diesels could be more refined
No tax-beating hybrid version
More expensive than a 1 Series

Think of the BMW 2 Series Coupe as a sporty, stylish but less practical version of the 1 Series hatchback that it’s based on. Prices start around £2,400 higher, too. So it’s a car you buy with your heart, rather than your head.

New car rivals include the equally impractical Audi TT and, at a pinch, the more practical, four-door Mercedes-Benz CLA. More powerful versions such as the range-topping M240i are so good they could even be considered rivals to the much more expensive Porsche Cayman.

If you’re buying used you might consider the VW Scirocco, which has only just ceased production, and the Peugeot RCZ, which was dropped from the new car price lists as long ago as 2015.

The heart of any sports car is its engine and chassis and here, the 2 Series is in rude health. Being rear-wheel drive and with a 50:50 weight balance means its more entertaining to drive than its front--wheel drive rivals. The steering is fast and accurate, while the car resists leaning through corners, and feels composed over bumps. There’s plenty of grip but if you want more, some versions are available with four-wheel drive – what BMW calls xDrive.

The ride is a little firm on the standard fun-flat tyres but specifying the optional M Sport adaptive suspension makes it more comfortable. The manual gearshift is precise, while the optional eight-speed automatic is one of the world’s best.

Engines are a mix of petrols and diesels. The former are smoother and more flexible, and suit the car better. Our favourites are the 220i and 230i, although the three-cylinder 218i is perfectly good if your pockets aren't quite as deep.  At the other end of the price and performance scale is the brilliant M240i, easily a rival for the even more expensive Porsche Cayman.

In general, diesel engines are falling out of favour but if you drive more than 15,000 miles a year they still make financial sense. The 2 Series’ diesel engines are around 20 per cent more economical than the petrol ones. The 220d is our pick for its blend of performance and economy.

The 2 Series is suitably low and sporty looking, although not as eye-catching as the TT or even the older Scirocco. However, those more conventional lines mean the BMW is respectably roomy, although the Scirocco has more rear legroom. There are only two rear seats but they’re generously proportioned and, unlike rivals, there’s ample headroom. The boot has room for a couple of large suitcases.

As you’d expect of a BMW, the interior is well finished and controls are logically laid out, but an Audi TT’s cabin looks more stylish. On the flipside, the 2 series is quiet; the petrol engines, especially, are barely audible.
There are just three core trim levels: SE, Sport and M Sport. Alloy wheels and a sat-nav are standard, so you’re definitely not slumming it in the SE.

Last Updated 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017 - 16:45

Key facts 

Warranty : 
3 years/100,000 miles
Boot size: 
390 litres
Width: 
1774mm
Length: 
4432mm
Height: 
1418mm
Tax (min to max): 
£160-£1,200 (first year); £140- £450 (subsequent years) 


Best BMW 2 Series for... 

BMW 218d SE auto
With the eight-speed automatic gearbox fitted, the base diesel model returns 62.8mpg on the official combined cycle, making it marginally the most frugal of all the versions in the range. It emits 119g/km of CO2, meaning a used one registered before 1 April 2017 pays just £30 in road tax. However, a new one pays £160 in the first year and £140 from the second. It may be the most frugal but the little you save at the pumps over the manual version, which does 61.4mpg, you’ll lose by paying £1,450 for the auto option itself. On the other hand, a company car driver will be one BIK rate band better off with the auto than the manual (27% compared with 28% in the 2018/19 tax year).
BMW 220d xDrive Sport auto
For safe and secure road holding on slippery roads, this four-wheel-drive model is the best version. In most conditions and to maintain BMW’s sporty rear-drive character, 60% of the power is transmitted to the rear wheels. However, when required, all the power can be sent to whichever axle needs it, in a split second. Sport trim is the least expensive of the two offered with this engine.
BMW M240i
For sheer performance, the M240i is without equal in the range. However, it’s a specialist vehicle that is not to everyone’s taste, which is why you might consider the less hard-edged 230i M Sport in its place. Not only is it £4,000 cheaper than the M240i but it also sits in a much lower company car tax band.
BMW 218i M Sport
In basic SE trim the 218i makes a lot of sense but in the most expensive M Sport trim it becomes only slightly less expensive (£2,500) than the properly sporty 220i Sport.

BMW 2 Series History 

•  2013: Model launched. Beware early models which lacked sat nav
• 2014: All trims now get alloy wheels
2015: The 218i is launched with a 1.5 litre, three-cylinder petrol engine. Recall campaigns launched for seatbelt malfunction and stalling engines,
2016: New range of 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engines badged 220i and 230i launched. The range-topping M240i replaces the M235i. Model also gets the latest version of BMW’s iDrive infotainment system. Recall issued for possible loss of control and steering problems.

Understanding BMW 2 Series car names 

  • 2 Series
  • Engine
    220i
  • Driven wheels
    xDrive
  • Gearbox
    Sport Auto
  • Engine
    There’s a choice of petrol and diesel engines but their names can be confusing. For example, the 218i is not a 1.8-litre engine but a 1.5 with three cylinders. The 220i is 2.0 litres but so is the 230i. All the diesel engines are 2.0 litres. The ‘i’ in the name stands for injection and ‘d’, for diesel.
  • Driven wheels
    For a sportier drive, the 2 series is rear, rather than front-wheel, drive. However, this can be tricky when it's muddy or snowing, so for the mid-range 220d  version, BMW offers it’s grip-boosting xDrive four-wheel drive system as an option.

  • Gearbox
    The standard gearbox is a six-speed manual, but if you’d rather not change gear yourself there’s a choice, at least on some versions, of a regular eight-speed automatic BMW calls Steptronic, and a quicker Sport automatic with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters (abit) like a Formula One car. The M model is available with a different type of automatic gearbox called a dual-clutch auto, with seven speeds.

BMW 2 Series Engines 

218i, 220i, 230i,240i 218d, 220d, 225d

Engines are a choice of petrols and diesels – there is no hybrid or pure electric version, so if you want to reduce your road or company car tax bill substantially or enter London’s congestion charge zone for free, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
The smallest engine is the 218i petrol. Despite it name, it’s actually a 1.5-litre engine with three, rather than the usual four cylinders, but it's smooth and reasonably powerful. It’s the one to choose if you want to keep your costs down and don't do a high mileage. The 220i is a two-litre engine with four-cylinders that is sportier and more relaxing, but it’s more powerful relation, the 230i, is the one to have if the M40i, the most powerful 2 Series coupe, is out of your budget or too intense.

Diesel engines are falling out of favour but the 2 Series coupe’s are well worth considering if you do a high mileage and want to drive something relaxing and economical or just like strong overtaking performance. An indication of how powerful they are is that the 220d is offered with BMW’s xDrive four-wheel drive system that improves grip on slippery surfaces.

On that point, in standard from, the rear-wheel drive 2 Series coupe can be tricky on wet roads if you're driving quickly – worth bearing in mind if you go for one of the more powerful petrol or diesel engines.

Fuel

Fuel economy

Power

Acceleration

Top speed

218i

Petrol

50.4 - 53.3mpg

13bhp

0-62mph: 8.8 - 8.9s

130mph

220i

Petrol

47.9mpg

181hp

0-62mph: 7.2s

146mph

230i

Petrol

47.9mpg

249hp

0-62mph: 5.6s

155mph

218d

Diesel

61.4 - 62.8mpg

148hp

0-62mph: 8.3 - 8.5s

132mph

220d

Diesel

61.4 - 55.4mpg

187hp

0-62mph: 7.0 - 7.2s

140 - 143mph

225d

Diesel

60.1mpg

221hp

0-62mph: 6.3s

151mph

M240i

Petrol

33.2 - 35.8mpg

335hp

0-62mph: 4.3 - 4.5s

155mph

BMW 2 Series Trims 

SE, Sport, M Sport, M

Gone are the days when premium brands were miserly with standard equipment. Although you can spend a fortune on options, the 2 Series Coupe is well equipped even in basic SE trim. It has 17in alloys (not the biggest but still good looking), air conditioning, a sporty steering wheel and smart LED lights all-round. It also has BMW’s impressive infotainment system, one of the best in the business, with a sat nav.

As its name implies, Sport reflects the coupe’s character more closely with a sportier look including sports seats, smarter alloys, sportier cabin touches and a selection of performance modes (ECO, PRO, Comfort, Sport and Sport+).  

M Sport is like the range-topping M model but without the high performance and the high price. So it has the M’s 18in alloys, body styling, and detailing. It also has firmer M Sport suspension.

It’s easy to mistake an M Sport for the M model, until you see an M240i in the flesh. This car is lower and has the M badge and special colours to distinguish it. It’s also much sportier looking inside and is available with a manual or a unique seven-speed automatic gearbox.

 

BMW 2 Series Reliability and warranty 

The BMW 2 Series didn't feature in the Auto Express Driver Power 2017 reliability rankings. Sister models the 3 and 4 Series did, however. Generally speaking, BMW has a good reputation for building reliable cars, while exterior and interior quality is second to none.

BMW’s new car warranty is three years although it does at least extend to 100,000 miles, where many others stop at 60,000. For average-mileage drivers this extra cover will be academic, though.

Used BMW 2 Series 

A strong image is crucial to a car’s success on the used car market and most BMW models, including the 2 Series, have it in spades. New car discounting, another factor in the success of a used car, is well controlled, so BMWs, including the 2 Series Coupe, hold their value better than most. 

Where they can lose money is in some of the options fitted to them. For a new car buyer it can be a painful lesson since most options lose money faster than the vehicle they’re fitted to. On the other hand, for the used car buyer it can be the route to a great value 2 Series Coupe.

Diesel BMWs are very popular with company car drivers, which is why there are many more used diesel-powered 2 Series Coupes on the market than petrol ones. All diesel 2 Series Coupes comply with the current Euro 6 emissions regulations, so are the cleanest available. Those registered before 1 April 2017, when road tax was more closely geared to CO2 emissions, will attract a lower rate, too.

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