A BMW on a front-wheel-drive platform? Believe it or not, that's what the new 2 Series Gran Coupe is. It bucks BMW's trend of offering primarily rear-drive vehicles, but don't fret just yet -- there's a lot to like here.
The German automaker officially revealed the 2 Series sedan on Tuesday ahead of its debut at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show. It'll be sold in the US in 228i and M235i forms -- the latter being the sportiest of the two -- and despite the front-drive architecture, both US-spec versions will be offered exclusively with xDrive all-wheel drive. This car will do battle directly with the and , and also to some extent, the . If I'm to believe Managing Editor Steven Ewing's comments after a , rival German brands have their work cut out.
Let's begin with the exterior, which does its best to hide the fact this isn't a rear-wheel-drive car. It's inoffensive with typical BMW kidney bean grilles, rather par-for-the-course Bimmer headlights with LED accents and a roofline that flows into a slight integrated trunk spoiler.
Looking smack-dab at the rear perhaps reveals its most polarizing design trait in the thin LED taillights. While they're certainly not subjectively ugly, they do look a smidge off. I have a feeling this will be a car that needs an in-person look. Then again, most recent BMWs have gone in this direction. If you don't like the 3 Series, the 2 Series Gran Coupe likely isn't your cup of tea, either.
Underneath the metal sits a 2.0-liter turbo-four engine that comes in two flavors. All 228i models get the less powerful tune with 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. The M235i makes 301 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque. An eight-speed automatic serves the driver no matter which variant as well.
The base 2 Series Gran Coupe will sprint to 60 mph in 6 seconds flat, while planting the throttle in the M235i reveals a time of 4.7 seconds. The M235i gets its extra gusto from a reinforced crankshaft, larger turbocharger and modified fuel injectors, among other engineering.
As mentioned, neither of these cars will be sold as a front-wheel drive car. xDrive is standard on all 2 Series Gran Coupes and works with a wheel-slip limiter and yaw distribution control the company calls BMW Performance Control. The M235i gets, as standard, a Torsen limited-slip differential packaged into the transmission.
Making use of the power on hand doesn't mean a thing if there's no way to handle it, but BMW's engineering folks believe they've kept the promise of "Ultimate Driving Machine" even with the standard suspension setup. An M Sport suspension is optional for base cars (standard on the M235i) and drops the car 0.39 inches to produce better handling results. M Steering, also optional, is prepared to serve up sharper response, while M235i models also get a strut tower tie bar, front axle subframe bracing and an antiroll bar. Optional for both cars are also adaptive dampers to adjust between two shock settings. A buttoned-down thing the M235i should be, then.
Opt for the base car and you're stuck with 17-inch wheels, though 18- and 19-inch wheels are optional. So are performance tires; all-season rubber is standard. Step up to the M235i and 18-inch wheels are the standard, and again, 19-inch wheels are a checkbox away.
The 2 Series Gran Coupe takes most of its interior chops from big brother. There are either two analog dials for the speedometer and tachometer, or if you plunk down the cash for Live Cockpit Professional, a 10.25-inch digital screen takes their place with BMW's, shall we say, controversial digital gauges. To the right of the driver is a 10.25-inch screen for infotainment needs and purposes no matter the model. The BMW Intelligent Assistant is also at your command with a "Hey BMW" catchphrase to wake it and a group of active safety features is standard, excluding adaptive cruise control.
We'll certainly take a closer look at the BMW's latest sedan when it makes its debut in the sheet metal at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show. Production is set to kick off next month before the car trickles into US dealers next March.
Originally published Oct. 15.
Update, Nov. 20: Updated with new pictures from the LA Auto Show.