2015 BMW 2 Series Coupe 228i SULEV 2dr Coupe (2.0L 4cyl Turbo 8A)
6/19/16 Update: I just brought the vehicle in for its first oil change and had no issues in the first 6 months. My lifetime fuel economy has improved to over 32 mpg. The car does very well on the highway, but I've noticed in the little city driving I do, it will be down in the 20s due to idling, but the auto shutoff feature helps that.
When I dropped my car off for an oil change I got a 2016 M235i convertible as a loaner and really enjoyed it. While the 6-cylinder engine is certainly fun and impressive, I am still happy with the torque and performance of the 228i's 2.0L. If I were to take one thing from the M235i to my car though, it would be the sport steering. There is more resistance and I liked the steering feel much better. If you are looking into this car to enjoy the driving experience, I highly recommend you go for the variable sport steering (not just the M-sport steering wheel). I believe this comes with the track handling package, which also means you'll get upgraded brakes. So far, this is the only thing I wish I did differently when choosing options, but am still very happy with the car.
Original Review: I bought this car after seriously considering a VW GTI, which you can buy at a lower price point. (Note I would have also considered the Audi A3, but no manual transmission was a deal breaker, and the GTI really is the same car with a different appearance.) However this was a 2015 and I was able to get a strong deal (about $6000 below MSRP, otherwise I probably wouldn't have been willing to go for it). After considering the performance benefits, maintenance included, nicer styling, and learning that I would actually pay more for insurance on the VW, I chose the 228i.
Compared to the VW, you get a nicer engine with much less/no turbo lag and better handling from 50/50 weight distribution and RWD. Also, in my opinion, this car looks much better than the VW. This is actually my first RWD car, having previously owned a Mazda. In comparison, I enjoy the more upscale interior and quieter cabin. I have the Harmon Kardon audio system and enjoy it very much. I've even had two adults in the back seat and consider the space reasonable for this size coupe, but it is certainly easier to get in and out of the back seat of a sedan. The front seats are sufficiently roomy and comfortable, and I have been impressed by the visibility as I have less of a blind spot than I did in my Mazda.
Regarding driving feel, I will say in my first few weeks, I missed my Mazda's tight steering feedback and the BMW gearbox took a little adjusting for me. In contrast, in a test drive, I felt the VW gearbox was quite smooth and easy to get used to. Now that I have had some time in the car, I feel accustomed to the gearbox. The BMW ride is quieter and comfortable, but with 18" wheels, some of the larger expansion joints can become more noticeable.
I've been impressed by the mileage that I've been getting so far. In the first 700 miles or so (break-in period is 1200), I have been averaging 31 mpg driving gently and using the ECO PRO mode often. Acceleration is sluggish in ECO PRO, but there is certainly no reason not to use it when cruising on the highway. Switching between the modes is very easy beside the shifter. Sport mode makes awakens a totally different personality of more torque and faster throttle response. I opted for the M-Sport suspension, so that gets activated in sport mode as well - truly fun to drive. My driving is mostly highway with about 20% side roads/city. The auto shut-off feature, which is an annoyance to some, is something I appreciate when stopped for a while. The engine starts right up as soon as I depress the clutch and if I don't want the engine to shut off, it is easy to disable or hold off for a moment by keeping the clutch depressed. Last, BMW comes with regenerative breaking, which also contributes to fuel savings. These features and some other subtleties in the BMW come standard, but are not available in many other cars. In the end, I have a feeling I am getting better fuel economy than I would be able to in the VW. But, if I chose to drive aggressively more of the time, I am sure that would disappear.
Overall, I am very happy with my purchase (despite some hiccups with the dealer experience, but that has never been smooth for me). I'll note that BMW's options and packages can make things confusing for the buyer as there are so many configurations, and some things that should come standard on an upscale vehicle don't. For me, the overall rating is between 4 and 5 stars due to the things that BMW nickel and dimes you for (such as key-less entry and Bluetooth on the 2015) and an infotainment system that could be a little more streamlined, although I have gotten used to it and do like it. If you do your research, you can spec out a great car. I plan on enjoying mine for years to come, and am looking forward to completing the break-in period.