Cars | Perspective
September 8, 2017 at 5:16 PM
It is a motorized oxymoron — an "entry-level" BMW, which is not as ridiculous as it might sound.
This year, at least, it has respectable BMW performance — 248 horsepower in the
230i xDrive coupe driven for this column and 335 horsepower in the companion M240i.
The 2-Series models are available as coupes or convertibles. The 230i gets a twin turbocharged, in-line four-cylinder gasoline engine (248 horsepower, 258 pound-feet of torque), and the M240i gets a turbocharged 3.0-liter, six-cylinder gasoline engine (335 horsepower, 369 pound-feet of torque).
The 230i xDrive, as the name implies, is all-wheel drive. The M240i sends all of its power to the rear wheels.
If you are a BMW newbie, as your purchase of a 2-Series model might suggest, you can drive either the 230i xDrive or M240i with pride. Both cars perform quite well in a BMW sort of way — fast acceleration, confident braking, nimble handling. It is all a speedy, wonderful lightness of being behind the wheel.
But don't expect maximum comfort, certainly not for the three people who can ride along with you. Hint: The 2-Series cars are subcompact automobiles, which means they are small with tight-fitting interiors. They all have four seats. But give yourself a break. Drive with only one passenger — preferably in the front seat.
The BMW 2-Series, the 230i xDrive coupe in this case, primarily is a driver's car. The front and rear passengers' seats mostly are there as happenstance. People don't fight to ride shotgun in this one or to squeeze into the rear cabin space. In the 2-Series speedsters, because that is what they are, passenger bones and bottoms take a beating.
A close look at the 230i used for this column indicates the "driver preferred" attitude of this car. It comes with a "track handling package" — 18-inch low-aspect ratio (summer speed tires), BMW M Sport brakes, adaptive suspension, variable sport steering.
Driving this car is nothing but fun, which would be okay if you were living for you alone — you know, no spouses or dependents. But most of us with BMW money have other people, and concerns other than speed and handling, in our lives.
My hunch is that BMW, the corporation, is trying to scrape up every "BMW luster" it can get. The 2-Series will help the company do that.
But here's hoping that its buyers don't have anyone or anything to carry long distances. The circumstance will create a condition where lust becomes lamentable.
Nuts & Bolts
Bottom line: The BMW 2-Series is a fast, fun line of cars. Just don't bring along too many people or things for the ride.
Ride, acceleration and handling: BMW lovers won't be disappointed. But for more thrill behind the wheel, consider the M240i.
Head-turning quotient: It's cute, a tiny BMW. The test car was painted "valencia orange," an eye-catching $700 option.
Engine/transmission: The 2017 230i xDrive comes with a 2.0-liter, 16-valve, gasoline in-line four-cylinder engine with variable-valve timing (248 horsepower, 258 pound-feet of torque). The engine is linked to an eight-speed automatic transmission that also can be operated manually.
Capacities: Seating is for four people in the 230i xDrive coupe. Hint: Drive with one passenger, enjoy the car, and be happy. Cargo capacity is 13.7 cubic feet with all seats in place. Fuel capacity is 13.7 gallons of gasoline.
Mileage: I averaged 31 miles per gallon in highway driving running on recommended premium gasoline. That's "recommended for best performance," which is a bit of a marketing ruse for people who believe they can slide by with regular-grade fuel. Hint: Use premium.
Safety: Standard equipment includes front and rear ventilated disc brakes, four-wheel anti-lock brake protection, brake drying, emergency braking preparation, traction and stability control, post-collision safety, self-leveling headlights, xenon high-intensity discharge headlamps, side and head air bags.
Pricing: The 2017 BMW xDrive coupe starts at $35,150. Price as tested is $50,070 including $13,025 in options (track handling package, advance electronic safety and driver-assistance items, special paint job) and a $995 factory-to-dealer shipment charge. Some BMW dealers have been willing to bargain on the 2-Series, preferably the 230i, offering $1,000 discounts.