- Impressively quick performance yet fuel-efficient
- Handling inspires confidence without sacrificing ride quality
- Interior is well made and has a long list of features
- Backseat is cramped for adults
- Base models don't always have the features you want
What do you give the sport coupe that has everything? In the case of the 2017 BMW 2 Series, the answer is more power.
This small luxury coupe and convertible get two new engines this year, and the upgrades result in name changes: The former 228i becomes the 230i, while the former M235i becomes the M240i. Power output jumps to a healthy 248 horsepower and 335 horsepower, respectively, significant gains that are bound to make these already quick compacts just that much quicker.
Elsewhere, the 2 Series retains all the same good qualities that have made it popular since its debut, not the least of which is a well-tuned suspension. The result is a car that’s adept at blasting along a winding stretch of asphalt yet still composed and comfortable while motoring down long stretches of arrow-straight Interstate. The maneuverability that such a compact package delivers also gives the 2 Series practical advantages in everyday driving, including the ability to weave through traffic and squeeze into tight parking spaces.
Inside, the passenger cabin features a stylish design and top-notch materials reminiscent of the slightly larger BMW 4 Series. Unfortunately, the interior also reveals this car’s shortcoming: It’s really meant for front seat passengers only because the rear seats are cramped for anyone other than children.
If four-passenger utility is a priority, you might want to consider sporty four-door alternatives including the Audi A3 (and performance-oriented Audi S3), the Cadillac ATS and the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class, all of which offer similar driving dynamics and amenities with slightly larger backseats (and we do mean slightly). For comparable performance at a lower price, you might also want to have a look at the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang.
That said, the 2017 BMW 2 Series coupe and convertible are still sports cars that have everything, including now greater power output for more driving excitement.
WHAT'S NEW FOR 2017
For 2017, the BMW 2 Series coupe and convertible get two new engines with a corresponding name change for the two distinct models, now known as the 230i and M240i.
TRIMS & EQUIPMENT
The 2017 BMW 2 Series is offered as a two-door coupe or convertible with seating for four. The hardtops and convertibles are equipped similarly, except the latter feature automatic pop-up roll hoops, a removable wind deflector and a power-operated black fabric roof (a brown roof with metallic weave is available). There are two trim levels: 230i with its four-cylinder engine and the M240i with its six-cylinder powerplant.
The 230i comes standard with 17-inch cast-aluminum wheels, automatic headlights, foglights, automatic wipers, automatic dual-zone climate control, imitation-leather upholstery, eight-way manual front seats, 60/40-split folding rear seatbacks and a tilt-and-telescoping leather-wrapped steering wheel. The standard electronics array includes Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, BMW's iDrive electronics interface with a 6.5-inch display, and a seven-speaker sound system with a CD player, HD radio and a USB port.
A Premium package is available for the 230i, and it bundles power-folding and heated outside mirrors, auto-dimming side and rearview mirrors, ambient exterior and interior lighting, keyless entry and ignition, 10-way power front sport seats, driver-seat memory functions and satellite radio.
The M240i includes 18-inch cast-aluminum wheels, summer performance tires, adaptive suspension dampers, sportier variable-ratio steering, upgraded brakes, adaptive high-intensity xenon headlights with LED accent lights, a sport exhaust system, gray exterior mirror caps, an aerodynamic body kit, dark ("Shadowline") exterior trim, a rear spoiler and a sunroof (coupe only). Inside, you'll find upgraded aluminum trim and an M Sport steering wheel. Additionally, the M240i's standard equipment includes the contents of the Premium package.
Two options packages bring performance features from the M240i to the 230i, and can be ordered independently or in addition to each other. The M Sport package adds several of the performance-oriented features of the M240i, including the 18-inch wheels with several tire options, an aerodynamic body kit, Shadowline exterior trim, a sport suspension and an M Sport steering wheel. The Track Handling package includes 18-inch wheels, upgraded brakes, adaptive suspension and variable-ratio steering.
The comfort-oriented Luxury package offers 18-inch wheels, leather-upholstered seats and chrome exterior trim in addition to the features of the Premium package, and it cannot be ordered with the M Sport package.
Several other option packages are available on both the 230i and M240i. The Cold Weather package includes headlight washers, heated front seats and heated steering wheel. The Technology package adds a higher-resolution 8.8-inch display screen, upgraded iDrive controller with a touchpad (allowing freehand text entry), enhanced driver information display, a navigation system, BMW Apps (including Pandora and Facebook integration) and BMW Remote Services (allowing smartphone control of remote start and climate settings, among others).
The Driver Assistance package adds front and rear parking sensors and a rearview camera. You can also order the 2 Series with the Driver Assistance Plus package (requires the Premium and Technology packages) and acquire a suite of active safety features, including automatic high-beam headlights, lane departure warning, and forward collision mitigation with automatic braking plus pedestrian detection.
Stand-alone options for the 230i include 18-inch wheels, adaptive xenon headlights, heated front seats, power-operated front seats and a sunroof. A limited-slip differential is available exclusively for the M240i. Optional on both models are leather upholstery, a self-parking system, wireless cellphone charging and a Wi-Fi hot spot, enhanced Bluetooth and USB connectivity, and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system.
INTERIOR & SAFETY
Slip inside the 2017 BMW 2 Series and you'll find highly adjustable sport seats that provide good support in spirited driving and above-average comfort on extended jaunts. The rear seats are as cramped as you'd expect from a car this size, making them best suited to small children or as a place to stash a jacket, purse or backpack.
In terms of ambiance, the passenger cabin is attractive, functional and especially quiet in hardtop form, and it features good quality materials. The BMW iDrive infotainment system that’s used to call up various settings on the standard 6.5-inch display (or the optional 8.8-inch screen that comes with the Technology package) responds quickly to inputs, though in our experience it takes a few more twirls of the control knob and a couple of extra clicks to accomplish common tasks than similar systems from competing manufacturers.
Out back, the 2 Series hardtop offers a decent-sized trunk with 13.8 cubic feet of cargo space. The convertible's trunk checks in with just about 9 cubic feet.
Standard safety equipment on the 2017 BMW 2 Series includes four-wheel antilock disc brakes, and special brake technology not only compensates for fade in high-performance driving but also keeps the brakes dry and responsive in wet weather. Traction and stability control are standard, as is hill start assist for manual-transmission cars. Front-seat side airbags, front knee airbags and full-length side curtain airbags (coupe only) are also standard.
Optional safety equipment includes front and rear parking sensors, a rearview camera, lane departure warning system, and forward collision warning and mitigation with automatic braking.
During Edmunds testing, the 2016 version of the 228i M Sport came to a stop from 60 mph in 111 feet, a better-than-average performance. Last year’s M235i was even more impressive thanks to its high-performance tires, performing the same task in only 106 feet (104 feet for the convertible).
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gives the 2 Series its top rating of Good in the small-overlap front-impact, moderate-overlap front-impact, side-impact and roof strength crash tests. The seat and head restraint design was also rated Good for whiplash protection in rear impacts.
PERFORMANCE & HANDLING
The 2017 BMW 2 Series is offered with a choice of two different engines. The 230i is powered by a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder that puts out 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The M240i gets a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder that produces 335 hp and 369 lb-ft. BMW estimates this latter powertrain will rocket the M240i from 0 to 60 mph in 4.2 seconds.
Rear-wheel drive is standard for the 2 Series, and BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system is available as an option. An eight-speed automatic transmission is standard, with a six-speed manual offered as a no-cost option on rear-wheel-drive models only.
EPA fuel economy estimates are 25 mpg combined (21 city/32 highway) for the 230i coupe and 27 mpg combined (23 city/34 highway) for the 230i convertible. All-wheel-drive versions of the 230i coupe and 230i convertible come in at 27 mpg combined (24 city/33 highway) and 26 mpg combined (23 city/33 highway), respectively.
EPA estimates for the M240i coupe are 25 mpg combined (21 city/32 highway) with the automatic transmission and 22 mpg combined (19 city/28 highway) with the manual transmission. The M240i convertible is rated at 25 mpg combined (21 city/32 highway) with the automatic and 23 mpg combined (19 city/29 highway) with the manual. Adding all-wheel drive to either the M240i coupe or convertible gets you 25 mpg combined (21 city/31 highway).
All 2 Series models have an automatic stop-start function, which shuts off the engine when you're stopped to save fuel. Automatic-transmission cars also have a launch control feature for full-speed getaways.
On the road, the 2017 BMW 2 Series quickly makes it clear that it's a serious sport coupe. Even the four-cylinder 230i offers acceleration lively enough to satisfy the vast majority of buyers. The M240i's new 3.0-liter six-cylinder delivers startling performance that shows what 335 hp beneath the hood of a small car can really do. The smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission performs well, but it’s nice to see BMW still offers the six-speed manual gearbox as a no-cost option for those who prefer a more hands-on driving style.
The 2 Series suspension does an exemplary job of smoothing out rough pavement, even with the available adjustable dampers dialed in to their firmest setting. In terms of handling, the 2 Series seems as docile as any other small premium car in ordinary driving, yet it delivers a thoroughly engaging driving experience on a winding stretch of road thanks to precise steering and carefully controlled body roll. In short, the combination of civilized ride quality and crisp handling make this compact car everything you expect from a real BMW.
Ever wonder if a BMW might be right for you? The entry-level 2 Series is a great place to start because it blends performance and luxury into a compact package that's more affordable than you might think. It's a real BMW.