Saturday 16 December 2017

When you find that 2 adds up to more than double 1

BMW’s coupe with a difference
BMW’s coupe with a difference
Eddie Cunningham

Eddie Cunningham

I always think it is easier for a car to be one of several versions rather than be judged on its merits as a distinct model.

So, in deciding to give their coupes their own number and model profile, BMW have to ring more changes than normal to distinguish between model ranges.

They have done so pretty well with the 4-series Coupe for its 3-series forerunner.

Now we have the 2-series Coupe - it gets here in early March - for what used to belong within the 1-series 'family'.

Of course connections with the old bloodline remain, but it's fair to say they've made a reasonable difference between the 2 and the 1. While the bonnet, doors and front wings are shared, the rest is altered in some way or other.

One of the better things to come out of all that is a lower, flatter roof. Gone is that awful bump from the old 1 (the car is 10mm lower).

It is also one of the reasons the 2-series looks more substantial (wider and longer) while wider track (41mm front, 43mm rear) and a longer wheelbase (32mm) contribute.

And there is more internal space - especially at the rear (it is a four-seater). I also really like the way the cockpit turns its face to the driver.

Now I drove the M-Sport 3-litre 6cyl (8spd auto) at the international test (20mm lower). I doubt many will buy it because it costs a bit. Yet I craved a real stretch of autobahn and mix of hairpins for it. Because this has serious potential. On my more restrained course, the fusion of power and brilliant handling was palpable. I used the paddles to get to the red line in most gears. I think we will come to see this as being among the best small coupes to drive. Enthusiasts will get excited. This is what you want from a coupe.

Even the less powerful versions benefit from the better performing engines (all have twin-turbo technology) and suspension.

The 220d and 220i will be the bigger sellers for here and will cost €38,480 and €39,080 on-the-road respectively.

The 8spd automatic gearbox option knocks another sliver off the standard 6spd manual's fuel consumption/emissions figures. It's fun.

Two other engines arrive soon after launch: a 2-litre 4cyl 218d and 6cyl 225d Coupé.

There are four trim levels: SE, Sport, Modern and M Sport and it goes on sale on March 8.

Standard equipment (they claim it is much higher) includes automatic climate control, Bluetooth with USB socket, DAB radio, Emergency Call, sport multi-function steering wheel, rain-sensing wipers, Park Distance Control, 6.5ins colour display, iDrive controller, radio with six speakers and AUX-in socket, Driving Performance Control switch, auto-dimming rear-view mirror and 17ins alloys.

There were several storage slots around the cabin and the rear bench splits 60:40 (you can also order a 40:20:40 combination).

Some driver aids you can add: an anti-dazzle system, BMW Professional Media package with 8.8ins widescreen display and iDrive Touch controller, Forward Collision Warning.

And of course there is ConnectedDrive for telephone and internet-based services.

This is a sizeable step away from the herd in overall terms. Watch out for it.

Irish Independent

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