Many people aspire to own a luxury-branded sport coupe, but sometimes even established entry-level models can be financially out of reach. If you're in this situation and are searching for a more affordable option, the BMW 2 Series could very well hit the spot.
Compared to BMW's other compact two-door, the 4 Series, the 2 Series isn't as roomy or as comprehensively equipped with standard features. But in just about every other aspect, the 2 Series earns the BMW badge on its hood. It's an impressively fun car to drive, with two powerful engines available and sharp and rewarding handling. And if you do want a fully loaded car, most of BMW's popular convenience and luxury features are still available as options. Granted, some other affordably priced entry-level luxury cars may prove more practical given their four doors or bigger backseats, but overall, the BMW 2 Series is an excellent choice.
Current BMW 2 Series
The BMW 2 Series is a new compact luxury coupe for 2014. (A convertible version is likely to come out in the future.) Two trim levels are available: 228i and M235i. The 228i comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that produces 240 horsepower and 255 pound-feet of torque. If you want some additional power, the M235i is equipped with a 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine with 320 hp and 330 lb-ft of torque. Directing this power to the rear wheels for both models is an eight-speed automatic transmission; a six speed manual is a no-cost option.
Standard equipment for the 228i includes 17-inch alloy wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, a 60/40-split-folding rear seat, a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel and BMW's iDrive infotainment interface with a 6.5-inch display, Bluetooth and a 10-speaker sound system. The more powerful M235i adds extra features like adaptive xenon headlights and power front seats along with performance-oriented hardware such as an adaptive suspension, upgraded brakes and a sport exhaust. Major options for both the 228i and M235i include a navigation system with a larger display screen, leather upholstery, heated seats and additional active safety features.
Inside, the 2 Series greets its driver with classic BMW analog gauges, a simple, functional design and high-end materials. The front seats are comfortable, but the rear seat is better reserved for extra luggage or small passengers, as both legroom and headroom are in short supply. The trunk is respectably sized, though, meaning the 2 Series should work quite well for weekend getaways.
What really sets the BMW 2 Series apart from other entry-luxury coupes is the driving experience. The 228i might be the base model, but its performance is still better than most other competitors in this price range. The eight-speed automatic transmission is quick to respond to commands, making for easy passing maneuvers and good manners in traffic. Those who want even more punch will want to opt for the M235i, as its potent straight-6 engine really ups the performance ante. While the M235i isn't a traditional BMW M model like the M3 or M5, it delivers high performance yet is still respectably comfortable in normal driving situations.
Used BMW 2 Series Models
The BMW 2 Series is an all-new model, but buyers interested in purchasing a small, used BMW could look at the similarly sized BMW 1 Series coupe and convertible, which were sold from 2008-'13.
Read the most recent 2014 BMW 2 Series review.