The 2020 compact 2 Series Gran Coupe is an all-new model from BMW, available in two versions: 228i xDrive and M235i xDrive.
Both models have the same turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine, all-wheel drive (as indicated by xDrive in the name), and an eight-speed automatic transmission.
They part ways at the power trailhead. The 228i engine generates 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque, while the specially tuned M235i cranks it up to 301 horsepower and 332 lb-ft.
Some performance purists, especially BMW fanboys, have tut-tutted at the 2 Series Gran Coupes for committing the perceived automotive mortal sin of being front-wheel-drive based. Unlike other models in the 2 Series lineup, which have rear-wheel drive, the Gran Coupe uses the same platform as BMW’s X1 and X2 compact SUVS. Yes, there’s an all-wheel drive system, but power is sent to the front wheels under ordinary circumstances when extra traction isn’t needed. Rear-wheel drive is generally preferred by driving enthusiasts.
Zero-to-60 mph times for the Gran Coupes will generate enthusiasm: 6.0 seconds for the 228i and 4.7 seconds for the M235i. There’s an optional overboost function available for M235i buyers bent on shaving the 4.7 seconds down to 4.6.
Fuel economy ratings are admirable for such performance ability. For the 228i they are 23 mpg city, 33 mpg highway, and 27 mpg combined. For the M235i, the numbers are 23/32/26 mpg.
Base pricing is $38,495 for the 228i and $46,495 for the M235i. The destination charge, $995, is included in these figures.
My 2020 2 Series Gran Coupe test car was an M235i with Alpina White paint and Magma Red upholstery. Magma Red is an audacious neon pumpkin orange color well suited to the car’s optional racy M Sport front seats. Mocha, Oyster, and Black with Blue highlights are available for more restrained tastes.
As a member of BMW’s lineup of M-labeled vehicles, the M235i gets M Sport brakes, M Sport steering, M Sport suspension, and a great M Sport steering wheel.
The M235i has four doors and a five-passenger cabin. Seats are at the firmest level on the firm spectrum, getting as close to an unpadded church pew as possible while still being comfortable. The access opening for the rear seats isn’t very big, and the doors don’t open very wide, so entering or exiting takes some care. Once inside, there’s pretty good legroom and lateral room (for two), but not a lot of headroom. Naturally in a compact car, the driver and front seat passenger have most of the roominess perks.
Trunk space is a useable 15.1 cubic feet, and there’s a pass-through to the cabin for carrying long items.
My test car included an optional Premium Package ($2,650) adding a heated steering wheel, head-up display, adaptive LED headlights, and BMW’s Live Cockpit Pro system. The Pro system has connected navigation, personal assistant, and two 10.25-inch displays: one for the infotainment system, the other for digital gauges. The infotainment system is everything an infotainment system should be: technologically advanced but intuitive, fairly simple, and easy to operate. Apple CarPlay capability has been standard on the M235i since its introduction, and Android Auto was added earlier this year.
2020 BMW M235i xDRIVE GRAN COUPE
Base price, including destination charge: $46,495
Price as driven: $50,295
Mary Lowry is an independent automotive writer who lives in Snohomish County. She is a member of the Motor Press Guild, and a member and past president of the Northwest Automotive Press Association. Vehicles are provided by the manufacturers as a one-week loan for review purposes only. In no way do the manufacturers control the content of the reviews.