BMW 2 Series Review (2014-2021)

BMW 2 Series Review (2014-2021)

The BMW 2 Series range contains everything from a sleek two-door convertible to a seven-seat MPV, but whichever version you pick, you can be assured of great quality, a strong image, a decent amount of standard features and a driving experience that’s both civilised and enjoyable. No 2 Series is the cheapest car of its type, but importantly, it feels worth the money you pay.

Fact File

Body Styles

  • Two-door coupe
  • Two-door convertible
  • Five-seat MPV
  • Seven-seat MPV

Years Available

2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021

Introduction

BMW 2 Series Review (2014-2021)

What is the BMW 2 Series?

It might sound a little strange to suggest that a car might have an identity crisis, but if any car does, then the BMW 2 Series is it. You see, depending on which of the four different versions you buy, your car will do a very different job. On the one hand, you have the glamorous pair: the BMW 2 Series Coupe and the BMW 2 Series Convertible. Both of these four-seater, two-door cars have sleek, sexy looks that match well with a desirable badge and stunning quality, making them super-attractive for buyers looking for style and sophistication at a reasonably affordable price.

On the other hand, you have the 2 Series Active Tourer and 2 Series Gran Tourer, which couldn’t be more different. Yes, the desirable badge and the stunning quality remain, but this time they’re wrapped up in an MPV body with practicality at its heart, which means there’s very much a chalk-and-cheese feel to the 2 Series range.

How Practical is it?

Of course, with the diverse nature of each of the various types of 2 Series, the rivals for each one will be very different. If you’re considering the coupe, then you’re probably also considering cars like the Audi TT, Toyota GT86 or Volkswagen Scirocco. If you’re considering the convertible, then the likes of the Audi A3 Cabriolet, the Mercedes SLK or Vauxhall Cascada might well also be catching your eye.

The Active Tourer, with five seats, dusts it with other premium high-sided hatchbacks such as the Mercedes B-Class and Volkswagen Golf SV. With the seven-seat Gran Tourer, meanwhile, most other premium-badged seven-seaters take the form of SUVs, such as the Land Rover Discovery Sport, but one premium MPV rival does exist in the form of the Volkswagen Touran.

What’s it Like to Drive?

There are some fairly fundamental differences under the skin, too. While the coupe and the convertible are based on the same sporty rear-wheel-drive platform as the 1 Series of the day, the Active Tourer and Gran Tourer share the same front-drive platform as the MINI (although some versions can be had with all-wheel drive instead).

That means differences in the way they behave on the road, but all of them are very good to drive, with agile handling, sharp responses, a reasonably comfortable ride and good refinement. Most of the same engines are shared across the board, and most do a really good job on performance, refinement and fuel economy.

Technology and Equipment

Between the four different types of 2 Series, there are one or two differences in trim levels and the stuff you get from each of them, but they follow a generally similar format. In each case, SE is the entry-level trim, and you can expect a standard kit list that includes automatic climate control, remote central locking, rain-sensing wipers, rear parking sensors, alloy wheels, height adjustment for the front seats, and a multi-function leather steering wheel. You also got the excellent iDrive infotainment system which brought together a 6.5-inch colour display, DAB radio, a Bluetooth hands-free phone connection, USB and aux-in sockets and six speakers.

In most cases, you could then choose to upgrade to either Sport or M Sport trims. Sport added sports seats and a range of sporty styling upgrades inside and out, but very little else in the way of extra luxury kit. It was a similar story with M Sport trim. It had even more aesthetic embellishments, but little in the way of extra gadgetry; if you wanted that, you’d have to raid the options list. Depending on the type of 2 Series in question, and the time it was built, you might also have had the choice of Luxury or Modern trims (these came and went over time on various versions of the car).

Three Things To Know

BMW 2 Series Review (2014-2021)
  • The price you pay for your car will differ greatly according to which flavour of 2 Series you choose, but because initial prices were comparatively high and resale values are very solid, none of them will be a particularly cheap choice. Happily, though, each does feel worth the money you pay.
  • Given BMW’s fondness for a fast car, it’s no surprise that high-performance variants of the 2 Series are available. Provided you go for the coupe or convertible, that is; there’s not much call for a super-powered MPV these days. Depending on the vintage of car you’re looking at, the fast one will be called either the M235i or M240i. Each uses a turbocharged 3.0-litre, six-cylinder engine, with the former delivering 322bhp and the latter pushing out 335bhp. Both are capable of cracking 0-62mph in less than five seconds. Or, if you want something really fruity, the Coupe can be had in super-fast BMW M2 form, which has even more power.
  • Also worth noting is that there’s a plug-in hybrid of the 2 Series, known as the 225xe. It’s only available in the Active Tourer body, however, and it does bring with it some compromises: because the rear seat and boot floor have had to be raised to make room for the battery beneath, and this of course has an impact on head room in the back, and on boot space. What you do get, however, is a real-world range of around 15-20 miles running on electric power alone – enough to make a real difference to the cost of a short commute.

Which One to Buy

BMW 2 Series Review (2014-2021)
  • If it’s the 2 Series Coupe you’re considering: We can’t see much reason to look beyond the entry-level 218i version. Its turbocharged, three-cylinder 1.5-litre petrol engine is way peppier than its modest cylinder count would suggest, and it's also impressively smooth, quiet and frugal. Choosing the entry-level engine will also keep your purchase price down.
  • If you're after the convertible: We’d suggest the 218d diesel. The convertible is a considerably heavier car than the coupe, and all the petrols need to be worked quite hard to haul all that weight around. The extra low-down torque of the diesels helps quite a lot on this score, and the 218d is the most affordable diesel choice.
  • If you’re considering the 2 Series Active Tourer: The 225xe is certainly the most interesting choice. This is a plug-in hybrid that has the same petrol engine as in the 218i powering the front wheels, along with an electric motor powering the rear wheels, and it’s very nippy indeed. According to official figures, it’ll do around 20 purely on electric power, and achieves frankly ludicrous fuel economy figures. This powertrain isn’t available in the other 2 Series models, either.
  • If you're interested in the Gran Tourer: You'll probably be best off with the 220d version. It’s a bigger, heavier car than the Active Tourer to start with, and if you fill it up with people and luggage, even more power and torque is needed to shift it around with purpose, and the 188bhp 2.0-litre diesel engine provides exactly that.

Running Costs

BMW 2 Series Review (2014-2021)

With the 2 Series being available in so many different shapes and sizes, pinning down precise figures for running costs is rather difficult. Obviously purchase prices will vary greatly between the four types of car, but whichever you’re considering, they won’t be particularly cheap choices. With higher original prices and stronger resale values than most of the competition, they’re likely to be pricier as used cars, although having said that, they shouldn’t be any more expensive than other premium-badged alternatives.

The story is similarly vague with fuel economy due to the diverse nature of the range. Obviously, the diesels will treat you best on this score. Taking the coupe as an example, the diesels will all return upwards of 60mpg according to official figures, regardless of whether you team them with a manual or automatic gearbox, although the 220d will drop into the mid-fifties if combined with xDrive four-wheel drive. Official mpg figures sit in the mid-forties for most of the petrols, with very little difference between them, while the most powerful M235i and M240i versions drop below 40mpg.

Engine-for-engine, the Active Tourer gets very similar figures to the coupe, but the convertible and Gran Tourer are a little thirstier due to their extra weight. The Active Tourer has another trick up its sleeve, too, as this one is the only 2 Series to be offered with a plug-in hybrid drivetrain. According to the latest official tests, up to 157mpg is achievable, but this figure isn’t representative of real-world use. Put simply, if you run the car on electric power the whole time without any intervention by the petrol engine, then you’ll use no fuel at all. If you regularly rely on the combustion engine, you’ll use lots. The fuel economy you get will depend entirely on how you use the car, so it’s best suited to drivers who only do short, tightly regimented journeys and have regular access to charging points.

Reliability

BMW 2 Series Review (2014-2021)

With the 2 Series being available in so many different shapes and sizes, pinning down precise figures for running costs is rather difficult. Obviously purchase prices will vary greatly between the four types of car, but whichever you’re considering, they won’t be particularly cheap choices. With higher original prices and stronger resale values than most of the competition, they’re likely to be pricier as used cars, although having said that, they shouldn’t be any more expensive than other premium-badged alternatives.

The story is similarly vague with fuel economy due to the diverse nature of the range. Obviously, the diesels will treat you best on this score. Taking the coupe as an example, the diesels will all return upwards of 60mpg according to official figures, regardless of whether you team them with a manual or automatic gearbox, although the 220d will drop into the mid-fifties if combined with xDrive four-wheel drive. Official mpg figures sit in the mid-forties for most of the petrols, with very little difference between them, while the most powerful M235i and M240i versions drop below 40mpg.

Engine-for-engine, the Active Tourer gets very similar figures to the coupe, but the convertible and Gran Tourer are a little thirstier due to their extra weight. The Active Tourer has another trick up its sleeve, too, as this one is the only 2 Series to be offered with a plug-in hybrid drivetrain. According to the latest official tests, up to 157mpg is achievable, but this figure isn’t representative of real-world use. Put simply, if you run the car on electric power the whole time without any intervention by the petrol engine, then you’ll use no fuel at all. If you regularly rely on the combustion engine, you’ll use lots. The fuel economy you get will depend entirely on how you use the car, so it’s best suited to drivers who only do short, tightly regimented journeys and have regular access to charging points.

The CarGurus Verdict

BMW 2 Series Review (2014-2021)

There really is a 2 Series to suit every taste, such is the diverse nature of the range. It can be had as a glamorous coupe or drop-top convertible, or as an MPV with either five or seven seats.

Whichever you choose, you’re assured of impeccable interior quality, with lush materials and a solid build, along with the image and desirability that comes hand-in-hand with the BMW badge. Although there are very significant mechanical differences under the skin between the four different variants, all of them assure a polished driving experience, with sharp handling, decent ride comfort and a fairly good level of rolling refinement.

Each is a reasonably practical offering for a car of its type, too, and most of the luxury and safety equipment you’d expect is present-and-correct. And while a BMW will never be as affordable to buy as a rival with a less prestigious badge, it is at least comparable on price with its premium competitors, while its running costs should be a match for any of them.

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Updated by Ivan Aistrop

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