The people at BMW seem to have developed their own form of mathematics.
It goes something like this: 1, take away 3, equals 2.
Or this: 3, take away 2, equals 4.
Confused? Don’t be.
It mightn’t make perfect arithmetic, but the German brand’s new naming conventions for their range of sporty machines are a definite plus for buyers.
Call it addition by subtraction.
It’s not that hard. Start with a 1-Series, take away three of its five-doors and you’ve invented the 2-Series Coupe.
Same goes for the new 4-Series Coupe (a 3-series sedan, minus two of its four doors).
Of course, it’s always been a numbers game at BMW – from iconic machines like the classic 2002 turbo and legendary M3, right through to market favourites like the X5 and executive 7-Series.
So there’s a certain logic that their new two-door machines should bear even, rather than odd numbers on their name badge. It’s not just lip service.
The all-new 2-Series, our test machine this week, is much, much more than a 1-Series coupe with a new name.
New from the ground up, it’s substantially bigger than the superceded model – 72mm longer, 26mm wider yet 5mm lower – meaning a sleeker, more substantial and more athletic looking machine. Wheelbase is longer by 30mm and track wider by 44mm – enhancing its sporty handling appeal.
It will be initially offered in three models – four-cylinder, turbocharged petrol and diesel variants at the entry-level price, plus a flagship turbo six to add a performance halo.
We drove the entry-level model, the 220i – powered by a turbo-charged two-litre engine and driven through a gloriously-smooth eight-speed automatic transmission.
At a tick over $50-grand plus on-road costs, it represents pretty smart value for those who fancy the famous propellor badge on their bonnet.
Only the 1-Series hatch offers a cheaper way into the Bavarian brand – but the 2-Series feels a rung or two above its sibling in terms of luxury and quality finishes.
As we noted with the latest version of the 3-Series, BMW has deviated slightly from its legendary dynamics with this 2-Series. While still an impressively rewarding thing to drive, it doesn’t match the rock-solid handling and razor-sharp steering we’ve previously come to expect from this marque.
Ride is marginally softer than how we remember the previous 1-Series coupe, and the steering noticeably lighter with not the same level of feedback.
This, of course, is measuring the 2-Series against a very high standard. It’s still a sporty and engaging thing – and the slightly more compliant ride no doubt will find favour among many who are looking for a sporty yet sensible car.
In that regard, the 2-Series delivers brilliantly.
Of course, you have the option of stiffening up the suspension via the “Driver Experience Control” button on the centre console, which also adjusts transmission and throttle response.
And, for the truly sporty-minded, there’s the optional M-Sport suspension (standard on the higher-spec 235i model) that produces a lower stance and even smarter handling but that will add about $1500 to the price.
The turbocharged four is a delightful engine – boasting impressive torque lower in the rev range and a pleasing willingness to spin, and spin, into the higher echelons of its performance band.
The eight-speed auto is a class-leader and converts all that effort by the engine into seamless progression, whether under hard acceleration or just cruising along.
Gearshift paddles on the chunky sports steering wheel give the driver the option of changing gears themselves, but it’s hardly necessary with a transmission as good as this one.
The 220i cockpit is luxurious and refined – noticeably more so than the 1-Series – with lustrous polished timber finishes, lashings of leather and judicious use of soft-touch surfaces.
Equipment-wise, too, it more than meets the mark in this category.
Automatic climate-control air, six-speaker audio, Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming, 6.5-inch screen with satellite navigation and thermal-glazed glass are standard.
Buyers can choose from Sport Line or Modern Line trim levels, the former giving special upholstry and interior trim finishes, the latter delivering a more elegant finish with matt aluminium and woodgrain highlights.
Interior space in the 2-Series is remarkably good – with decent access to the two rear buckets and reasonable head and knee-room offered to rear seat passengers.
Likewise, the bootspace is not massive but shaped well enough to be useful.
Those features are common to all three 2-Series models. What is not is the power delivered at the top of the family tree by the M235i – the newest member of the exclusive “M” club with a twin-turbo six-cylinder engine and full suite of performance gear.
For the time being, at least, the 2-Series has no natural competitor in this guise – Benz has its astonishing CLA45 AMG sedan, but doesn’t offer a coupe in this category while Audi’s A3, while offering a high-performance S-version, can only be had in sedan or hatchback form.
In that company, at least, the M235i is unique.
It takes the place of the astonishingly quick 1M Coupe of the previous model. At $79,900 it’s almost $30-grand more expensive than its two siblings, but almost the same amount cheaper than the 1M.
Now that’s the kind of subtraction that everybody could get to like.
Two-door, four-seat premium small coupe with four-cylinder turbocharged engine and eight-speed automatic transmission.
2-litre, four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine produces 135kW; 260Nm torque; eight-speed automatic with wheel-mounted gearchange paddles and launch control function.
Driver and passenger front, head and side airbags; Dynamic Stability control, ABS with brake assist and cornering brake control; fuel-saving stop-start function, push-button start, satellite navigation, Bluetooth connectivity with audio streaming; 17-inch light alloy wheels with run-flat tyres, automatic headlights and wipers, electric windows, seats and mirrors; leather trim, woodgrain cabin trim; USB interface.
0-100KM/H in 7 seconds.
6L/100KM, combined average.
More than just making up the numbers.
$50,500 plus onroad costs.