I can't quite put my finger on it, but getting into a diesel car after several weeks' absence gave me a huge lift. Maybe I have been brainwashed down the years to enjoy the special hum and powerful pull of a sweet diesel. Sorry Green Party, but I don't care. There remains something exceptional about the genre. Even more so if it happens to be a 2-litre from BMW. I wish I was as fond of everything in this car as that.
I had the 2-series Gran Coupé on test. It's an intriguing presence on the market. Its arrival means the 2-series range is now complete. Just remember, this is a front-wheel-drive BMW (it is set up for all-wheel-drive too). Basically, it follows the pattern set by other BMW four-door coupés (the 4-series, 8-series) as it combines the traditional look and shape of a two-door coupé, but has four frameless doors. They are among key styling elements in a car that contrives to looks sleek (mostly) and sits low.
It is just 1,420mm tall but stretches to 4,526mm in length, is 1,800mm wide and, critically, has a 2,670mm wheelbase.
All that is possible because it shares underpinnings with the underrated 1-series hatchback and X1/X2 SAV model ranges. Yes, SAV not SUV. BMW eschew the sport utility vehicle nomenclature - they call theirs sport activity vehicles. It's one way of setting yourself apart, I suppose.
Anyway, the major beneficiaries of this new model are those sitting in the back. They enjoy better knee-room. That's almost entirely due to the car being front-wheel-drive. Such passengers get 33mm of extra knee room. It doesn't sound that much, but I was pleasantly surprised when I sat in to sample. It's not ideal for 6ft-plus occupants but it's not a deal-breaker. Adding to the sense of space is the 12mm higher seating position, and there is 14mm more headroom. Those little bits all add up.
The boot also benefits; it now expands to 430 litres (that's a 40-litre increase on the two-door coupé, for example) - and you can create more space via dropping rear backrests etc. However, I think there is a price to pay for all that. It is too much for me, but might not be for you.
In stretching the body length to take four doors in proper neo-classic coupé-crescent style, they came up with triangular rear-corner windows to fill the space and let some light in.
I think those windows detract substantially from the overall effect. I'd go further and say they remind me of an old Ford Orion or something. That is me being a bit brutal, but I'm irritated because this could otherwise be such a lovely, lovely car.
That is how I see it and feel that, surely, there was some other way to get around the coupé/length conundrum. Yet, as I often say, you can't see the outside much when you are sitting in and well-settled. I felt the spirits lift.
There was nothing extraordinary to merit such a mood boost except to say that it is easy to overlook how good and easy it felt to drive. I kept saying that all the way to Kilkenny and back.
The driving position was excellent, as was the car's handling on good motorway surfaces. It shone quietly and comfortably on our longer drives.
The Mercedes GLA is a main rival and has a better cabin overall but it would be remiss of me to exclude how well the BMW's interior looked and felt. I think Mercedes and Audi do better, snazzier dashboard-and-display set-ups but the Gran Coupé's cockpit had a look and logic up there with the best.
The seats were excellent; I've long been a fan of the way BMW mix the sporty and sturdy with long-distance support.
But when all is said and done, the engine took the limelight.
The chassis' contribution was, in the final analysis, mediocre while the 2-litre 4cyl 220d diesel with 190hp and 400Nm (pulling power) just swept along. If I needed pick-up I got it instantly via the excellent 8spd automatic transmission; no fuss or noise as it obliged unfailingly. It is no slouch either as it can manage zero to 100kmh in 7.5 seconds. I just wish it was more tautly sprung to give it more handling/ride edge.
Would I buy it? Probably not. Those rear-side windows would annoy me, even though I'd enjoy my drives. And I can get my diesel kicks elsewhere in the BMW range or from the ranks of many a rival. Because of its price, it is a fine introduction for someone aspiring to their first Beemer. But I'll pass.
BMW 2-series Gran Coupé:
4dr coupé range from €35,045, on test: 2-litre 4cyl diesel from €41,712; 190hp. Automatic Steptronic Sport; 4.1,4.5litres/100km (62.8mpg, 67.3mpg), €200 tax, heated sport front seats, Sport package, 17in alloys, auto air con, cruise control, DAB, BMW Online Services, Connected Package Plus, Live Cockpit Plus; spread of driver, safety assists.