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The BMW 2 Series takes it off

25.03.2015

ABOUT a year ago, BMW South Africa launched the 2 Series coupé, which was formerly known as the 1 Series coupé. The reason why it’s called the 2 Series now, and not a 1 Series coupé, is for customers to better distinguish between the different models. The 1 Series coupé saw huge success in its lifetime, something that BMW aims to continue with the new 2 Series. Up until last week, the 2 Series was only offered as a hard-top coupé, now though, BMW has introduced the all-new 2 Series convertible and I went down to the Western Cape to give it a go.

I’d just like to acknowledge the brave men and women who spent weeks fighting the horrific fires that were in the area not so long ago. Our driving route took us though fire damaged areas and seeing them up close really puts into perspective how terrible they actually were.

Back to the 2 Series

The 2 Series convertible has retained the brand’s typical proportions with a low-slung silhouette, a long bonnet, doors with frameless windows and an iconic fabric roof, which is fully automatic and can be raised or lowered while on the move. BMW claims the roof can operate up to speeds of about 50kp/h. It also takes just 20 seconds to take it off, which is pretty quick in guy terms. I honestly think this is one of the prettiest BMWs available today. I am drawn to the car’s smooth styling and the front end, no matter whether it has an optional M-performance body kit or not, it’s still really attractive.

What’s it like behind the wheel?

It’s a BMW, so it’s rather good. The ultra-sporty driving characteristics of the BMW 2 Series convertible have been generated by a hand-picked selection of engines and chassis technologies, which are tuned to make the perfect pairing. BMW will only be offering three derivatives, namely the 220i, 228i and the sporty M-performance tuned M235i. I spent the day in the latter model. It has a six-cylinder twin power turbo engine, which is good for 240kW and 450Nm of torque. One of the best things about the convertible is you can hear this glorious engine. When changing gears via the eight-speed automatic gearbox, it gives a sound that I’m sure is very similar to that made by a baboon when you unexpectedly punch it in the face.

On the magnificent mountain passes along our route I was able to exploit its BMW handling characteristics. I will admit that from my experience the 2 Series coupé does feel slightly better but that’s just down to structural rigidity offered by the hard top roof. As for cruising along the coast line with the roof down in a great little car, it’s tough to beat this BMW.

That can’t be the end?

Actually, it’s not the end. BMW had two other vehicles at the launch for us to sample. Enter the 2015 BMW X5M and BMW X6M. These mammoth beasts feature the latest in BMW M technology and offer outstanding performance as well as rather nimble handling, considering their size.

Tell me more about the power

Both vehicles feature BMW’s tried and tested 4.4-litre twice-blown turbocharged V8, which produces – wait for it – 423kW and 750Nm of torque. This translates to both these cars hitting 100kp/h from a standstill in around 4.2 seconds bearing in mind they weigh close on two tons. Power is sent to all four wheels via an eight-speed M Steptronic transmission.

Is it a handful on the road?

No, not really. Being M models there a number of features offered to set the car up just how you would prefer. There are different settings for the transmission, steering and suspension. The gearbox also has a setting, which allows you to select how ferocious you want it to change gears. Now, if the M235i made the same sound when punching a baboon in the face when changing gears, then these cars can be compared to the sound made when you punch a silverback gorilla in the face. Just note, the car will react the same way as the gorilla, so… you better hold on!

That said though, I found the X5M, which I drove, to be quite composed and manageable through the corners. This is probably down to the fact that both cars have an electronically controlled multi-plate clutch, which allows for fully variable distribution of drive between the front and rear axles – from 100 per cent at the rear to up to 100 per cent at the front. The result is a whole new bracket of dynamic flair, agility and traction.

The X5M and X6M really engage the driver as is expected by an M division BMW. They sound amazing and are just so fast and I mean, really fast. I never quite understood this car until I drove it. I always preferred the idea of getting either a standard X5 30d or an M5. I guess these cars offer those lucky few among us the perfect combination of both.

Pricing:

X5M                                       - R1 643 000

X6M                                       - R 1 676 500

2 Series Convertible

220i Manual – R486 500 / 220i eight-speed Auto – R504 500 / 220i eight-speed sport auto –R506 600

228i Manual                        R525 000 / 228i eight-speed Auto – R543 000 / 228i eight-speed sport auto – R545 100

M235i Manual                   R643 500 / M235i eight-speed sport auto – R663 600

Article written by Justin Jacobs
25.03.2015
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