By Derek Price
The 2-Series may be BMW’s entry-level model this year, but don’t let that fool you. It doesn’t drive anything like an entry-level car.
Granted, with a starting price of $32,100 — and escalating quickly when you add a few options — it’s hard to argue that it’s a clearance-rack compact car. But it does deliver the driving magic of BMW’s bigger sports coupes in a smaller, lighter, easier-to-handle package.
In fact, while it may be weird for a “car guy” to admit this, I actually enjoy driving BMW’s smaller, less powerful cars like the 2-Series even more than its bigger, faster and far more expensive siblings. The driving experience becomes more about balance, beauty and control than brute, overwhelming force.
And that’s important for one reason. The 2-Series lets you push the car’s limits without risking an arrest record.
Cars like the M3 and M5, as brilliant as they are, simply can’t be enjoyed to the max unless you buy expensive track time or don’t mind spending a few nights in the local sheriff’s hotel. Besides which, most drivers like me — those with mere mortal skills — can’t come close to wringing the full performance out of them. It’s a waste unless your last name is Andretti, Vettel or Earnhardt.
But cars like the 2-Series, and especially the 228i with the entry-level engine like I tested, can be pushed hard enough to make you grin on public roads.
I loved just about everything on my $37,550 tester. From its timeless good looks to its precision-built cabin, it’s tough to find anything to complain about on this car. It feels like a gift from the German engineering gods.
Back seat room and trunk space are both limited, if you want to get picky, but that should be no surprise in a small coupe.
I was particularly happy that BMW fitted the test car with its new Track Handling Package ($2,200), which gives you upgraded brakes, an adaptive M suspension, variable steering and wonderfully sticky Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. It seems like a bargain for what you get.
Also new for this year’s 2-Series is xDrive, BMW’s all-wheel drive system that can improve traction and handling on slick roads. It’s an $1,800 upgrade.
It’s also worth mentioning that there is a convertible version of the 2-Series starting just under $38,000. The coupe is a blast to drive, but personally, I think the drop-top version would be even better.
While I was perfectly satisfied with the 240-horsepower base engine in the 228i, speed freaks would be more pleased with the 320 horses on tap in the M235i model. It offers more performance upgrades on top of the power boost, starting at $43,100 for the coupe and $47,700 for the convertible.
At a Glance
What was tested?
2015 BMW 228i xDrive Coupe ($33,900). Options: Track Handling Package ($2,200), brushed aluminum trim ($500). Price as tested (including $950 destination charge): $37,550
Wheelbase: 105.9 in.
Length: 174.7 in.
Width: 69.8 in.
Height: 55.8 in.
Engine: Turbocharged 2.0-liter inline four-cylinder (240 hp, 255 lbs.-ft. torque)
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Estimated Mileage: 23 city, 35 highway
2015 BMW 2 Series
Why buy it?
It’s BMW’s most affordable model but still handles like a premium product. It’s got a balanced, easy-to-handle driving feel that makes it fun to push the performance envelope.