It’s not Gran(d) and it’s not a Coupe, but the first-ever BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe is a front-wheel drive sedan with looks to rival any econobox out there…
If you grew up in the 1990s or earlier your life has certainly gone through some adjustment more recently. Magazines went from paper to screens, romance went from park benches to apps, and BMW went from making the ultimate driving machines to doing front-wheel drive Kia rivals, minivans, and crossovers.
The latest to come out of Munich is this first-ever BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe, which is a fanciful name for something you buy instead of a Hyundai Elantra if you like staring depreciation right in the eye and laughing maniacally. Neither is it Gran(d), nor is it a Coupe, but it is a sedan with a transverse mounted four-cylinder.
The problem area is between the dash and the front axle, or what the designer’s striving for the golden rule of thirds call the dash-to-axle ratio. And the problem is that there is too little area. Rear-drive cars have a lot of space here giving them a cab-back profile that we’re all subconsciously used to and decipher as ‘premium’. Once you go front-wheel drive with an engine mounted further forwards in the bay, the front axle has to fall back to shrink the dash-to-axle ratio. This is bad for design, but cheap and modular.
And that’s how we get to the new BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe, a BMW that looks like a Korean econobox with a high bonnet to clear the tall engine sitting on top of the front axle – the designers did their very German best, swooping the bonnet as far down as the regulations will allow concerning the height of the headlights, and tacking on a giant kidney grille in case you get confused why someone would put BMW badges on a Daewoo.
But let’s look at the bright side – BMW’s new 2 Series also comes in all-wheel drive form, with a range-topping M235i xDrive model developing 306 horsepower and 450Nm of torque. Top speed is limited to 250km/h, zero to 100km/h comes up in 4.9 seconds, and the price at launch in Europe is around AED175,000, which buys you at least two Ssangyongs.
Even though it’s packed full of kit inside and out, the BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupe manages to look nothing like a BMW, but there are 19-inch wheels, panoramic roof, M seats and leather steering wheel, an aerodynamic body kit, sportier suspension, a louder exhaust, and a limited-slip differential. They didn’t forget to include launch control, on the front axle, so off the line you’ll chirp the front wheels and then you can’t show up in that neighbourhood ever again.