The BMW 2 Series was a hit out of the box because it was the perfect size. The beloved BMW 2002 that started it all more than half a century ago, had grown up to be the 3 Series, which is now too big and fat for the needs of many buyers, including roots BMW fans. The 2 Series is a two-door and modestly equipped, compared to other BMWs, and that’s a good thing for this car that is more about the BMW light and lean driving experience.
Well, the standard audio system does have 10 speakers, so it’s light and lean with a few indulgences.
The 2 Series was introduced two years ago. There are few changes for 2016. The previous Sport Line becomes standard equipment for 2016.
The 2 Series offers two engines, with manual or automatic transmission and available all-wheel drive.
The BMW 228i sedan uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder making 240 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque; there’s also a convertible 228i, with automatic only. The rear-wheel-drive BMW 228i is EPA-rated at 28 miles per gallon Combined (36 mpg Highway).
The hot rod is the BMW M235i, with its 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six making 322 hp and 332 lb-ft. The EPA rates its fuel economy 22 mpg Combined, 26 mpg Highway.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the 2 Series top scores in all of its crash tests, plus an Advanced rating for the available electronic safety system called Driver Assistance Plus.
The BMW 228i ($28,850) comes with sport seats, black interior trim, black splitter under sport grille, red stitching on the steering wheel, 17-inch alloys, and M Sport suspension.
All-wheel drive ($6000) and a convertible are available. Also available are the M235i sedan ($44,150) and convertible ($48,750).
The BMW 2 Series looks sleek and well proportioned, leaving its lovable boxy 2002 shape behind. It looks relaxed, with graceful curves, artful angles, and tidy vents. A long hood climbs to an arched roof and back down to a short tail, tracing classic sport coupe lines and copying the shape of the showy 4 Series.
The cabin is designed for the driver. Unlike bigger BMWs and their long horizontal shelves, the 2 Series gauges and controls are all handy. Many trims are available, but we like simple base; it’s still BMW quality, it’s all we need. Base trim is understated, consistent with the theme of keeping focus back on the driving.
It’s surprisingly spacious inside, with lots of room in all directions for the driver, broad adjustability of the seat and steering wheel. The rear seat is not quite comfortable for every size, but an Easy Entry function improves its accessibility. The Convertible with its narrower back seat needs it. The top lowers or raises in 20 seconds, at up to 30 mph if you’re stuck in a freeway traffic jam and it starts raining.
The trunk volume is 13.8 cubic feet, about average for a compact coupe. The split rear seat folds to open up the trunk to the cabin, however; and there’s a pass-through hole for things like skis.
Acceleration is brisk with the 228i, and fast with the M235i; zero to 60 in 5.4 seconds and 4.8 seconds, respectively. And AWD is actually quicker, despite its weight, because it gets away from zero with better traction.
The handling is more engaging than a base BMW 3 Series or 4 Series, and that’s a great compliment for any car. The 2 Series is in its element, during quick changes of direction and even hard braking. We credit the M Sport suspension that’s standard equipment. Meanwhile, the ride is as supple as it needs to be.
Or, you can trade some of that supple ride for more performance, with the ZTR package, for the track, available with either rear-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive 228i models. It adds adaptive M suspension, variable sport steering, M Sport Brakes, Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires, 18-inch wheels, and revised springs that reduce ride height by 10 mm.
The BMW 2 Series offers the basic best of BMW at an affordable price and popular size. Great powertrain, dynamics, looks, cabin, and fuel mileage.