Words: Harshit Srinivas
Photographs by: Vaibhav Dhanawade
“Isn’t that a baby shark parked at the Just Urbane parking lot?” exclaimed the enthusiast in me. Looking at the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe in metal post its launch, there was a feeling of excitement to test it. My excitement had to be on a different note, not because it was a BMW but because it was introduced to us late. When the other German rivals had their entry-level sedans dominating the Indian roads, BMW patiently waited to get the best for its prospective buyers. Well, for now, the only rival to the 2 Series GC is the Mercedes-Benz A-Class Limousine, and with the latter in mind, let us see how the former performs in our road test.
The 2 Series Gran Coupe is based on the same ULK platform that the BMW X1 and the entire range of Mini cars share. With design cues borrowed from the elder sibling, the 8 Series Gran Coupe, you can expect it to be appealing if you are a fan of those chiselled looks. With the bar set that high, those entering the BMW brand will appreciate how this Beemer looks. Up front, it gets a well-proportioned BMW kidney grille and is not like the ones you see on other BMWs. With clean lines of fit and finish, the grille looks satisfying and does not extend much towards the lower side of the front bumper. On either side is a well-sculpted LED headlamp setup that adds more to the sportier character upfront. Move towards the side, and you find the five-spoke 17-inch alloys and a sharper-looking lower sill. On the rear, I thought that it could have been more appealing. Since looks are subjective, and if you are a fan of massier appeal, then the rear will make sense to you. With neatly integrated LED lamps that look connected but aren’t, they merge cleanly with the shoulder line creases. Also, adding a bit more to this sportier character is the boot lip spoiler and the chrome exhaust tips. Mind you, these exhausts aren't faux but real and add a lot more drama to the avatar. Now, this was all when seen in metal. However, comparing the spec sheet with that of the A-Class Limousine, things do look different. The A-Class, in terms of dimensions, is longer in terms of length and wheelbase than the 2 GC, translating to more space inside the cabin. However, in terms of width, the 2 GC is wider by 4mm than the A-Class, which doesn’t make sense while sitting three abreast. Also, the A-Class Limousine appears to be taller than the 2 Series by 26mm, and like a Gran Coupe, there is a sloping roofline, too, thus limiting the headroom at the rear. To sum it all up, if you are looking for an entry-point car in the BMW brand, the dimensions might not appeal to you, but the handsome looks would. And that's what we expect our cars to do, and that is making heads turn around.
Features Step inside the cabin, and you will notice it to be no less in features than any other outgoing BMW. I mean to say, the regular features you can offer at this price, such as the touchscreen infotainment system, digital instrument cluster, panoramic sunroof and dual-zone climate control, name a few. However, the infotainment, as in the X1, lacks Android Auto and gets only the Apple CarPlay. This may not sound appealing to the more significant chunk of Android users in our country, but at the same time, treat it as a reason to upgrade yourselves to the iPhone (Wink!). Also, this cannot be regarded as a major concern, and thanks to all those multiple USB slots to your rescue. Next up, complimenting this high-end tech are features such as gesture control and handwriting recognition via BMW’s iDrive technology. Now, these are some features the rivals do not offer in any of their entry-level cars for now, at least. The screens here are intuitive, seamless to operate and reads-out all the required information in bold and clear. Despite the clear and bold readout, not complaining, though, but in my opinion, the BMW could have done a better job with the instrument cluster, especially the tacho that, with its anti-clockwise movement, was making me put in some effort while accessing the rev parameters. Ahead of this neatly laid instrument cluster is the three-spoke steering wheel, with steering-mounted controls and neatly integrated paddle shifters behind it. On the centre console are physical switches & rotary dial for the infotainment system, with additional designated control for drive modes and ignition. The entire dash comes finished in beige and all-black leatherette, and making it more lively are certain chrome bits overall. Although it's not a car for those looking to be chauffeured, if you do, then you have vents for the rear and two type C ports for your convenience. Though it does lack a lot of legroom, headroom and knee room with the overall size, if you seat two short-framed adults or kids, then you might not complain at all with the 2 Series.
Performance and Ride
The 2 Series Gran Coupe comes powered by the same diesel unit as experienced in the 3 Series Gran Limousine. With a peak output of 190hp and 400Nm at your disposal, the 2 Series is just 0.1 seconds quicker to 100kmph than the 3 Series Gran Limousine. Also, you get the same eight-speed auto-box paired with the diesel unit in this, and with seamless and quick shifts, you may avoid using the paddle shifters. The reasons are that it's quick, seamless and responsive. So, why put in that extra effort to take matters into your own hands? Also, the power delivery is linear throughout the rev range, and you hear the diesel clatter at the lower end of the spectrum. Despite the refined engine and lesser diesel clatter, the only sound that can be overheard was the tire noise, which in my opinion, could have been neglected with proper sound deadening and insulation material. Though it ain’t that bothersome, one can get annoyed with this while mile-munching on highways.
Speaking of mile munchers, the 2 Series being a BMW, ticked the right boxes in terms of dynamics. The ride is supple and feels great while on smooth tarmac. Turn it over to some bad patches like I did while heading to the shoot location, and you see the 2 GC tackle them all. Yes, on some really bad patches, I could hear the suspension clunk. But, I would not consider it as a major concern because that stretch was that bad, which would have put the monster SUVs also in a tough spot. Regarding handling, the steering has the correct amount of heft and feedback to keep you confident. Throw it around corners, and watch it behave no less than a rear-wheel-driven BMW. It might not let you have the rear coming out the way you expect from RWD BMWs, but it does let you maintain those lines with plenty of torque steer.
Overall, you don’t miss the performance of a ‘3’ with the 2 Series, but you do settle for a smaller amount of fun behind that wheel while driving enthusiastically. And, to me, that is not a concern for any of you planning to enter the brand.
As I start to pen down my conclusion, I just noticed the 2 Series Gran Coupe in diesel guise being off-the official website. Now, the reasons for this remain unknown. But, if you are one of those prospective buyers willing to enter the brand and have gained access to the existing stocks, then the 2 Series Gran Coupe is an ideal pick for you. It might not appeal if you are willing to be chauffeured around. Even though it is a whole nine lakh rupee more affordable to the 3 Series, which is a lot of money saved. And, for someone entering the brand is getting quite a great deal in this price range alongside the reliable BMW nameplate.