Skipped a class

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Skipped a class-class

Dynamic around the curve: the 2-series Gran Coupe impresses with its sophisticated technology and good driving characteristics.

Skipped a class

From a technical point of view, the 2 Series Gran Coupe from BMW is closely related to the 1 Series: it still rightly bears the 2 Series lettering?

With the 2 Series Gran Coupe, BMW is presenting a compact four-door coupe for the first time; a segment that has so far been dominated by the Mercedes CLA. Externally, it should be based on the silhouette of the larger 8 Series Gran Coupe. An elongated, low roof line and frameless doors at the front and rear clearly show that the 2-series Gran Coupe does not want to be a 1-series sedan, as is already the case exclusively for the Chinese market. Under the pretty sheet metal dress, it is still a 1-series BMW: both share a platform. Even the interior is already familiar from the compact.

Nevertheless, the Gran Coupe wants to convey an independent driving experience and not just be positioned a class higher than the 1 Series in terms of name. Is that possible??

At 4526 millimeters, the Gran Coupe is two centimeters longer than its compact sister model and thus actually ranks between the 1 and 3 series. The low roofline makes the difference seem bigger than it is on paper. In addition, aerodynamics and weight distribution have changed compared to the 1-series, which leads to a different set-up of chassis and driver assistance systems and thus noticeably better driving behavior: Especially when comparing the two top models with 306 hp and 450 Nm, it is noticeable that the longer 2-series is more neutral when cornering quickly and drives more confidently. In the rear there is slightly less headroom, but taller people can still sit comfortably in the back. The trunk is 430 liters, 50 liters larger than in the 1 Series. This is remarkable in times when every centimeter is being fought for in the compact segment.

More space thanks to front-wheel drive

However, the ample space comes with a compromise: Like the 1 Series, the 2 Series Gran Coupe is based on BMW’s new front-wheel drive architecture. Only the top model is still available with all-wheel drive, the days of rear-wheel drive in the compact class are over.

For die-hard BMW fans, this is a bitter blow, after all, the brand is traditionally associated with rear-wheel drive. In Bavaria, of course, they know that, which is why great importance was attached to making the handling of the 2-series Gran Coupe as neutral as possible.

Technology from the e-car

The “Actuator-close Wheel Slip Limitation”, ARB for short, which BMW had developed for the electric i3s – and is already installed in the 1 Series, helps here in particular. The trick: The system is integrated directly into the engine control unit; this allows it to regulate much more quickly than an additional traction control unit.

ARB is intended to provide better grip when accelerating and cornering and, together with the standard yaw moment distribution, which applies the brakes to the inside wheel, reduces understeer. This works surprisingly well. With the M235i with all-wheel drive, you almost never feel understeer, even when accelerating early in the corner, the steering behavior is neutral, and the vehicle always develops strong traction even on difficult, uneven roads. Even more astonishing is that the interventions of the ARB are hardly noticeable. BMW driving dynamics specialist Daniel Kammerer describes the driving behavior as “precise, fast and direct” – you can sign that.

The front-wheel drive variants of the Gran Coupe also benefit from the ARB: even the fastest slip control cannot conjure up rear-wheel drive. But even these models drive surprisingly dynamically, without you noticing the interventions of the system. A more mature driving behavior, more luggage space and a body that looks much longer: You can definitely concede that the Gran Coupe can be called a 2-series BMW.

Unfortunately, the price is also more on the 2 level: With a starting price of 40,900 francs for a 218i, the Gran Coupe is 4,800 francs more expensive than an identically motorized 118i – after all, you get LED headlights as standard. At the market launch this month, the Gran Coupe will be available as a three-cylinder petrol engine 218i (5.0-5.7 l/100 km according to NEDC) and as an economical diesel 220d (4.2-4.5 l/100 km)..

The M235i xDrive (7.1 l/100 km) starts at a base price of 67,400 francs.

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