2014 BMW 2-Series replaces the brand's smaller 1-Series.
the number 2 connotes a loser, a sad runner-up. But commercially,
the number has had an unusual upside — with auto rental company
Avis, which leveraged its underdog status with the famous tagline
"We try harder," and with BMW, who first assigned the
number to its classic 2002 sport sedan and is now reassigning it
with an all-new 2 Series coupe.
distance itself from the too-small 1 Series it’s replacing and nip
at the bumpers of the German automaker’s larger, and deservedly
esteemed, 3 Series, the 2014 2 Series splits the difference with an
entry-level driver’s car — as long as the driver is no taller
than 6 feet.
$32,100 and available in a higher-horsepower M Performance
Automobile version, the 2 Series has experienced growth spurts in
length, width and interior space, though the trunk makes the
greatest gains with a 5 percent, or 5-gallon, increase in room. The
interior areas that matter most for comfort, though, will still feel
cramped for even moderately large human beings. The front headroom
has grown by 0.7 inches, the rear legroom by 0.8.
a trim 5-foot-8. That turned out to be the ideal size for an
afternoon’s flogging in the more powerful of the two coupes —
the $11,000 more expensive M235i — which Crevier BMW in Santa Ana,
Calif., was kind enough to let me borrow for an extended test drive
on the Ortega Highway last week.
Performance Automobile," rather than a true M car, the M in the
case of the 235i is not as high-performance as an M3 or M4; it was
not tested and tuned at Nurburgring or upfit with a race-derived
engine, transmission and suspension mods. It is, however, quite the
kick for the money.
The M235i is
one of two trims for the 2 Series. It is powered with a 3-liter,
in-line six-cylinder engine that’s boosted with a twin-scroll
turbocharger and makes a zippy 320 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of
torque. The base-model 228i is equipped with a turbocharged,
240-horsepower, 2-liter four-cylinder, which I borrowed from the BMW
press fleet as my daily driver for much of a recent week.
immediately noteworthy about both cars is their low-slung sportiness.
It’s rare to drive a subcompact that is dwarfed by a Mini
Countryman, but that was my experience behind the wheel of this
two-door four-seater, which sits lower than the 1 Series but not so
low that all I saw was hub cap from my windows.
subcompact sports car that is rear-wheel drive, the M235i in
particular is impishly nimble, enabled by a Germanically precise
50/50 weight distribution courtesy of a longitudinally mounted
engine. The pricier M Performance version also includes chassis
enhancements, such as adaptive suspension with electronically
controlled shock absorbers, sport brakes that upgrade the pistons on
the calipers, variable sport steering that reacts to the manner in
which the car is driven and a more grumbly exhaust that was,
unfortunately, not grumbly enough to mask road and wind noise that
was more in keeping with a sport than a luxury car.
The M235i is
also equipped with adjustable seat bolsters that, at the press of a
button, swaddle drivers from the sides, almost like a vehicular
girdle, to better hold them in place as they sashay through the S
curves of a canyon road, which is exactly where it wants to be
driven. The handling felt taut and snappy as Spandex.
BMW is a
luxury brand, but its cockpit is set up to appeal to those who are
more interested in driving than luxuriating. Trimmed in simple black
leather and soft plastics, there isn’t a whole lot to distract
from the task at hand. Simple without being overly spartan, the
center console is pared to its essentials with buttons that control
the climate and radio settings, a knob for the audio and smartphone
systems, and a screen that retracts into the dash.
will find themselves playing with the most are the paddle shifters
for its eight-speed sport automatic transmission and the four drive
modes, which are accessible with a toggle to the left of the gear
shift. They range from Eco Pro to Sport Plus, with settings for
Comfort and Sport in between.
Sport was most
satisfying with its neck-whipping throttle response. Sport Plus
ramps up the excitement — and the risk factor — by voiding the
traction control. In either Sport setting, the slightest pressing or
easing of the accelerator was immediately reactive.
Eco Pro was
the Ed Begley button. What makes it Pro and not just Eco is that the
dashboard actually told me how much fuel I was saving whenever I
suppressed my instinct to drive Sport. Measured in tenths of miles
per gallon, I gained about a half-mile per gallon of fuel economy
for every minute I drove at 70 mph. Stopped, I saved even more.
BMWs, the 2 Series is equipped with a stop/start function that turns
off the engine when the car is fully stopped and restarts it when
the brake pedal is released. It works far better than the same
feature on BMW’s entry-level X1 crossover, which, in my
experience, shuddered so violently each time it brought the engine
back to life that it seemed to have a chill.
the 2 series is a nod to BMW’s now-classic 2002, first introduced
46 years ago. Distinctively boxy without veering into dreaded K car
terrain, the 2002 was succeeded by BMW’s perennially bestselling 3
Series sport sedan, which is where the 2 Series takes its styling
cues, with chiseled side panels and, on the M235i, an aero kit that
more effectively dismisses the wind.
proudly displays its M status both inside and out with strategically
placed, if micro-sized, Ms on the steering wheel and door sills, as
well as the brake calipers and body panels. To in-the-know
onlookers, it’s a status symbol. For its drivers, the assemblage
of Ms is appropriate for a driving experience that is mmmm, mmmm
2014 BMW 2
Twin-scroll-turbocharged, direct-injected, 3-liter, in-line
six-cylinder, 8-speed sport automatic transmission
320 at 5,800-6,000 rpm
pound-feet at 1,300-4,500 rpm
—0 to 60:
length: 174.5 inches
fuel economy: 22 mpg city, 32 mpg highway, 25 mpg combined
tested, including destination charge: $44,025