If you're interested in a brand-new Beemer that also happens to be the cheapest, the 2022 BMW 218i Gran Coupe M Sport LCI might be the one for you. Is it any good, though?
Launched initially back in 2020, BMW Malaysia decided to 'amp up' its overall ownership experience in 2022. This 218i LCI model (Life Cycle Impulse or more commonly known as a minor facelift) now comes with one major update and a number of missing minor specs.
Same exterior, no difference
For the 2022 model, nothing has changed visually on the outside. However, when I got to test the previous 218i last year, that model was fitted with some optional M Performance Parts, which made the 218i look more 'garang'.
That one came with the high-gloss black mesh kidney grille, carbon fibre side mirror caps, carbon fibre exhaust pipe tip, and black rear spoiler. Those 'upgrades' were close to RM9,000 back then, and it certainly took the 218i's visuals to a whole new level.
This one, in its stock state, doesn't look too bad. The Melbourne Red is a bit strong in my opinion, but it somehow works well even without those added accessories. Having said that, the colour did grow more on me the longer I had the car in my possession, but I still prefer the Storm Gray.
Just like before, this also comes with frameless windows for all four doors, which are indeed very sporty-looking. Since it's an M Sport model, it comes standard with the 18-inch M double-spoke alloys, and I like them a lot. Hiding behind these are a set of M Sport Suspension, which I have mixed feelings about.
Bigger screens thanks to the BMW Live Cockpit Plus
Those who are familiar with the 218i when it was launched back in 2020 should quickly notice the new interior setup inside the 218i LCI. Previously, this BMW 2 Series came with an analogue instrument plus a 5.5-inch multi-info display and an 8.8-inch centre touchscreen.
Those are gone in the 218i LCI as they've been replaced with a couple of 10-25-inch displays for its instrument cluster & centre touchscreen. They run on the BMW Operating System 7, which smoothens things out in terms of operation.
This makes the 218i LCI a more 'complete' car interior-wise, which also puts it on par with its closest rival from the three-pointed star camp. We also adore that fat M Sport steering wheel, which felt super nice to drive on all occasions.
Are the seats any good?
The sports seat is a bit snug in my opinion (since I'm slightly overweight according to my doctor, boo), but a few adjustments here and there were all I needed to make things comfortable for the drive. No lumbar adjustment, but it does come with side bolsters adjustment.
Rear seats are okay for most Asian adults, but anyone who's taller than 175cm could find it a bit cramped. They're good for a couple of kids, which is what the 218i is intended for, but ferrying more than two tall adults full-time might be a bit of an issue (if they're 170cm or shorter, then it's not going to be a problem).
Is there anything missing?
A few features have been removed in the facelifted 218i. These things are the BMW Digital Key for iPhone users, Qi wireless charger, and powered bolster adjustment for the front passenger seat.
Will we miss them? Not really, I don't mind them not being there at all since I don't really use these features in any car, but some folks might make a bit of noise. Just a bit. Shouldn't be too much of a deal-breaker, if you ask me.
As stated above, the 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine produces 140hp and 220Nm of torque. Paired to a seven-speed DCT gearbox, the 218i can hit 0-100km/h in 8.7 seconds before reaching its top speed of 213km/h.
Not the fastest Beemer, but efficiency-wise, BMW states that it can do 5.9L/100km. Achievable, but more often than not, it's going to be slightly higher. That's the case for me thanks to my slightly heavier right foot.
Turbo lag is noticeable, but once it kicks in, getting it up to highway speeds is a breeze. That, however, shouldn't be too much of a problem as the 218i was designed to be more on the comfort side (with a dash of sportiness). NVH levels are good, good enough that you'll barely notice any outside noise even when travelling beyond 110km/h.
More comfort the faster you go
Let's go back to that M Sport Suspension on the 218i LCI. Going slow, you will feel all the bumps and road imperfections. The 218i is one of the cars that if you want to be comfortable with, you have to go a bit faster.
With that being said, it is an agile car to drive. The electronics in the 218i help to minimise the understeer if you go a bit hard but mostly smooth on all occasions. Cornering feels planted with little to no drama, which is another thing that I really like about the 218i.
Just a bit of advice on my part, turn off the 'Stop & Start' function, it can get a bit rough, especially in traffic jams. Such is the nature of a three-cylinder engine.
Conclusion - Worth the money?
At the end of the day, the BMW 218i Gran Coupe M Sport LCI is a decent buy with decent levels of performance and overall comfort. For a brand-new BMW that costs just under the RM230,000 mark, it's a good car for all occasions and a good starting point for those looking to get into the BMW brand.
If you have that kind of money to spend, do splurge a bit more to get those optional M Performance parts. With those extra bits and pieces, the BMW 218i Gran Coupe M Sport LCI can truly be a beauty that you just have to stop and have another look at after parking it.