The 2 Series is an important vehicle for BMW, as it takes the fight to the likes of the Audi A3 sedan and Mercedes-Benz CLA, although the 2 Series is a two-door-only model.
In terms of dimensions, the 2 Series is 110mm longer than its hatch sibling and a 30mm wider wheelbase and a 32mm wider body than its predecessor. This means that it is more capacious inside and offers a 390-litre boot (up by 20 litres).
There will be a choice of three engines initially. The range starts with the 220i Coupé and is powered by a 135kW/270Nm version of BMW’s 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. It takes just seven seconds to sprint to 100km/h and uses a claimed 6.0 litres/100km in automatic guise. The 220d produces the same power as its petrol counterpart albeit with 380Nm of torque. The oil-burner’s consumption goes as low as 4.2 litres/100km with emissions of less than 120g/km.
Having driven these vehicles for an extended period, I can report that there is noticeably more shove in the 2 Series thanks to the power increases. Overall, both models are supremely refined, sporty and economical. I just wish there was a more practical four-door version (perhaps a Gran Coupé later?). The 180kW 228i Coupé will also join the range from September.
The top-of-the-range model is the M235i, powered by the familiar 3.0-litre six-cylinder that now produces 240kW and 450Nm of torque. We took this monster around Dezzi Raceway on the KwaZulu-Natal South Coast. Its six-speed manual transmission takes it to 100km/h in just five seconds and is a raw driving experience - its howl reminded me of the E46 M3 CSL or even the E30 325is. There is the option of having a mechanical limited slip differential and it is a must-have on a such a powerful car.
We also had a chance to get behind the wheel of the new BMW 4 Series cabriolet, which replaces the segment-leading 3 Series convertible. There are three key aspects that make a good four-seater cabriolet in my mind.The first is whether the back seats are actually usable and in the case of the 4 Series, they are, but not for extended periods as it isn’t very spacious back there.
The second thing is whether the wind blows you away with the top down.While still quite turbulent it is still not a problem driving with the roof down. To aid in efficiency and aerodynamics BMW has added what it calls Air Breathers. These are positioned rearward of the front wheel arches along with Air Curtains to reduce turbulence and aerodynamic drag at the front wheels.
The third thing is whether removing the roof has changed the dynamic characteristics and rigidity of the car in such a way as to detract from driver enjoyment. Now this cabriolet is over 200kg heavier than the coupé on which it is based, thanks in no small part to the metal roof that can fold in 20 seconds at speeds of up to 18km/h. Despite this, I am happy to say that the cabriolet is still a playful, dynamic car. It may not be as sharp, butwith the top down, you forget that a little bit of dynamism has been sacrificed for infinite headroom.
For now, the range consists of the 180kW 428i, which uses 6.8litres/100km and the 225kW 435i which can go from zero to 100km/h in 5.6 seconds. An entry-level 135kW 420i will join the fleet in July.