After a decent run up of teasers and camouflaged cars running around KL, BMW Malaysia have pulled the covers off the the 2 Series Gran Coupe, the company’s first four-door offering (outside of China) that’s more compact than the venerable 3 Series.
The car was revealed at the Pavilion Kuala Lumpur shopping centre in the heart of the city where, prior to that, several examples of the car were parked outside, on display, with exterior wraps designed by local artists.
Coming in at RM211,367, the all-new 2 Series Gran Coupe is locally assembled and available in just one sole variant and specification - that being the 218i M Sport - that very slightly undercuts its closest competitor, the Mercedes-Benz A 200 Sedan (since non-AMG variants of the C118 CLA Class aren’t sold in Malaysia yet).
While it is possible that even more variants are incoming, it seems BMW's local arm believes this to be the ‘sweet spot’ configuration for the majority of buyers. Given the the 18i denotes the powertrain used here, it’s one that should be familiar to many.
Sitting upfront and laid out transversely (I still need time to get used to that in a Bimmer) we find the B38 1.5-litre turbocharged 3-cylinder petrol engine which drives the front wheels via a 7-speed Steptronic dual-clutch transmission.
Power and torque sit at a respectable 140hp and 220Nm, respectively, and endows the marque’s smallest four-door saloon model with enough grunt to reach 100km/h from standstill 8.7 seconds and a top speed of 213km/h. It’ll be faster than a Volvo, at least. Pure performance isn’t the focus here, obviously, and the 3-potter claims to return an impressive combined fuel economy figure of 5.9-litres/100km.
We’ll leave the bulk of the judgement to you, our audience, with regard to how the 2 Series Gran Coupe looks, but we’ll chime in only by saying that, since its international unveil in 2019, it’s no secret that this car’s exterior has been a hot topic of debate in the automotive community, overshadowed only by the more recent M3 and M4 front end.
On that note, a BMW Malaysia executive during the launch described the 218i’s kidney grilles as “broad”, which is neither particularly positive nor negative. However, this fascia does somewhat resemble the 8 Series, which is most definitely a good thing.
The standard M Sport package does also add some spice to the car’s look with its 18-inch wheels running 225/40 Bridgestone Turanza runflat tyres, the subtle M Aerodynamics package, and gloss black contrasting accents. Inside, too, there’s the leather M Sport steering wheel, front sports seats, and M door sills finishers.
That being said, the cabin does seem to be surprisingly large for what is a rather small BMW. The seat upholstery is done up in Dakota Leather but are also only offered in black to match the rest of the interior trim materials and headliner. The metal M-specific pedals are a nice touch with its satin silver accents; something that the rest of the interior could have used more of peppered around.
Plenty of toys are on offer here too with a fully digital instrument cluster that’s tied closely to the 8.8-inch central infotainment screen via the BMW OS 7 software, which outputs to a 6-speaker audio system. Also bundled in is the BMW ConnectedDrive suite of services including Intelligent Emergency Call, Teleservices, and BMW Digital Key.
The 218i M Sport is equipped with 6 airbags, dynamic stability control, a rear view camera, and active cruise control with automatic braking. In addition, the included Driving Assistant Package adds Lane Departure Warning, Lane Change Warning and front collision warning with brake intervention, crossing traffic warning rear, rear collision prevention and Speed Limit Info.
In this guise, the 2 Series Gran Coupe could do some damage in luring customers away from the competition, especially if the car is as good as BMW boats it to be. Its success here will also determine if the automaker introduces more variants, not just of the 2 Series Gran Coupe, but also its platform partner the F40 1 Series hatch.
There's just something about cars. It's a conveyance, it's a liability, it's a tool; but it can also be a source of joy, pride, inspiration and passion. It's much like clothes versus fashion. And like the latter, the pursuit of perfection never ends.