BMW 2 Series Review: First Drive

By Abhishek Chaliha | on October 15, 2020

BMW finally enters the compact luxury sedan segment with the 2 Series. But how does it fare as a luxury car and can it serve as a daily driver? We hit the streets to find.

Every car, much like every person has a unique character. Every car emotes differently and serves different purposes in its own unique way. This perhaps is what provides the automotive world with such an emotional and engaging atmosphere that’s so vast, that you can simply get lost in it forever! Case in point being us lot at autoX. It’s this love for the automobile that binds us together in an intangible bond.

For the more sensible breed of human beings out there though this might not be an all-too-relatable concept. Still, if you’ve ever owned a car, you would know that it is so much more than just a means of transport. Every single car on sale anywhere in the world has some sort of a character, no matter how humble or exquisite.

Unfortunately in India, while cars and motorcycles became accessible to the masses from the late 90s, they are still very heavily taxed. So much so that even a 10 lakh rupee mass-market car is taxed as high as 50%! And let’s not even get into the overbearing taxes on luxury cars in India.

While this problem does not exist globally, luxury car makers have been aggressively increasing their range of smaller and more affordable cars to not just expand their market share but also to capture younger buyers and making them repeat customers for a lifetime!

Here in India, the BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz CLA have met with good success by not just capturing young buyers but also giving people more affordable access into the prestigious world of luxury cars. After all, everyone wants to drive a car with an alluring badge!

BMW 2 Series1

This festive season, BMW is looking to step up its game in this department with the launch of the 2 Series in India. Built on the company’s modular UKL2 front-wheel-drive platform, the 2 Series shares its underpinnings and powertrain with the X1. So, while BMW has its SUV contender in this class of entry-level luxury cars, the 2 Series will aim for the yet untapped saloon car buyer!

Judging a book by its cover

Design is perhaps one of the most critical aspects of a car’s success, especially for luxury cars. A car has to look as appealing as it is to not just make it desirable, but also drive in those footfalls for enquiries.

On this department, the 2 Series comes ready as it looks very unique. That bold kidney-grille and signature LED headlamp design meanwhile instantly give away its identity as a BMW. The side profile looks very unique too with its Gran Coupe roofline and frameless windows. Around the back, you get a somewhat flat ending to the boot lid and rear bumper, but it’s salvaged by those unique LED tail lamps and that air diffuser design on this M Sport variant. The M Sport kit in addition brings a set of tasteful M alloy wheels, M badges on the front aprons and subtle side skirts.

As an affordable luxury car, the M Sport kit’s contents are kept in check as the only M item inside the cabin is the sporty steering wheel. This is a good thing as the interiors are designed to appeal to one and all with its premium appeal. I like the simple and clear layout of the dashboard that ensures that all of the controls fall easily to hand. Now, as a compact car, you get a sense of the tight cabin that offers just about enough space and the trademark BMW dashboard design looks like it’s been shrunk to 70% to fit into the cabin.

BMW 2 Series interior2

As a modern luxury car, the 2 Series offers all of the features that you expect from it. It has a huge 10.25-inch instrument cluster that can be altered to display a variety of information and has unique displays for different drive modes. The infotainment screen is a 10.25-inch unit too with connected car tech, gesture controls and iDrive 7. The dual-tone interiors which consist of a lot of beige help liven up the cabin and the panoramic sunroof can lend an airy appeal to the compact cabin that can feel tight for rear seat occupants owing to the small windows.

Compact yet practical

Speaking of rear seat occupants, the 2 Series can comfortably accommodate two adults with just about adequate legroom, headroom and under-thigh support. But should the driver sit low down, legroom for the passenger behind will become tight as they can no longer slide their feet under the front seat. So, should you find yourself in the rear seat, it’s best to strike a deal with the driver about his seating position beforehand. Incidentally, both front seats are electrically adjustable. The rear backrest has a 40/20/40 split functionality. The transmission tunnel running across the floor is pretty prominent and the centre section of the rear seat is narrow, so this is not a five-seater by any measure.

Still, I would say that the 2 Series is a practical car as it not just seats four people in comfort, but even provides a generous 430 litres of boot space to ensure that it isn’t just a comfortable urban car, but can even be used for weekend getaways.

BMW 2 Series rear seat space1

This is something that’s very commendable as the 2 Series is not a compromised car by any measure. Sure, it is compact but it’s still very practical. In fact, its compact dimensions ensure that it’s well suited to our busy urban streets, where thanks to its responsive powertrain and comfortable ride, it is a very pleasant car to drive. The ride, while stiff at very low speeds such as 20km/h, becomes more composed and comfortable once the speeds rise from 40km/h onwards, despite the fact that it runs on run-flat tyres. Meanwhile, the car’s practical ground clearance ensures that you don’t have to cringe over speed breakers at the thought of scraping the underbelly, thanks in part also to the relatively short wheelbase. This is especially why I say that the 2 Series is not just a great daily driver, but also suited for road trips. What’s more, there’s a space-saver spare tyre too, although if you have a fully-loaded cabin and boot, it’s going to be a task to store the full-size wheel. But then again, this is the age of tubeless tyres and tyre inflators!

Does it have the performance for road trips?

The 2 Series is offered with a sole 2.0-litre, turbo diesel mill that’s good for 188bhp and 400Nm. Like in the other cars such as the X1 and 3 Series where this engine does duty, it is mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox.  While acceleration is always linear and adequate for urban driving, kick-down acceleration will feel slow. So, if you seek more spirited performance, it’s best to put the engine and gearbox in Sport mode and toggle those paddle shifters all the way to 4,500rpm for quick driving on highways. While there is no petrol option right now, this 220d will do 100km/h from standstill in 7.5 seconds and hit a top speed of 233km/h, which is pretty decent.

The only let down is the torque steer that’s prevalent under hard acceleration during spirited driving. Not only is there a fair amount of it in aggressive standing starts, but even under kick-down acceleration for overtaking, the level of torque steer present is always annoying. Otherwise, the 2 Series drives fairly well with neutral drive dynamics. The steering wheel feels direct, while it’s not really feelsome, it has been weighed well and always has a nice heft to it, without feeling heavy at any point.

BMW 2 Series india review1

Upscale daily driver

The 2nd generation BMW X1 has found a lot of takers, thanks to its SUV appeal, spacious cabin and practical nature. As a saloon car, the 2 Series may have compromised some of that space but it sure stands out and offers a unique appeal as an affordable luxury sedan in the age of high riding 2WD crossovers. With the launch of this car, BMW can finally cater to sedan buyers in the segment who until now have had to look elsewhere. And that is a win in itself. What’s more, like I said earlier, the 2 Series is a very practical car that can serve as a great upmarket daily driver with plenty of pizazz.

  • BMW 2 Series 220d M Sport

Engine: 1,995cc / 4 Cylinders / 16 Valves / Twin-Scroll Turbo

Fuel: Diesel

Transmission: 8 Speed Automatic / Front-Wheel Drive

Power: 187bhp @ 4,000rpm

Torque: 400Nm @ 1,750-2,500rpm

Price: ₹41.40 lakh

X-factor: A great daily driver and a very practical car too.

Pros           
• Ease of driving
Ride comfort

Cons
• Torque steer
• High transmission tunnel

Also read - 2020 BMW X1 Review: First Drive

BMW X5 vs Mercedes-Benz GLE: Comparison

Tags: BMW 2 Series BMW

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