2021 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe gets less expensive, front-wheel-drive variant

The base 228i lowers the Gran Coupe's starting price by $2,000.

Steven Ewing Former managing editor
Steven Ewing spent his childhood reading car magazines, making his career as an automotive journalist an absolute dream job. After getting his foot in the door at Automobile while he was still a teenager, Ewing found homes on the mastheads at Winding Road magazine, Autoblog and Motor1.com before joining the CNET team in 2018. He has also served on the World Car Awards jury. Ewing grew up ingrained in the car culture of Detroit -- the Motor City -- before eventually moving to Los Angeles. In his free time, Ewing loves to cook, binge trash TV and play the drums.
Steven Ewing
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The 228i Gran Coupe is one of the least expensive BMWs offered in the US.

Jon Wong/Roadshow

is adding a less expensive version of the 2 Series Gran Coupe to its US portfolio, according to a CarsDirect report published earlier this week. Priced at $36,695 including $995 for destination, the entry-level 228i Gran Coupe is $2,000 cheaper heading into 2021. But there's more to it than that.

This new 2 Series variant will use front-wheel drive, while the other Gran Coupes get BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive system. BMW is a company that historically touted the benefits of rear-drive setups, so the addition of a front-wheel-drive offering is seen as heretical by some purists -- especially since the two-door 2 Series models are still based on an older, rear-drive platform. Of course, BMW has offered FWD for years on its X1 SUV, but that doesn't seem to bother people as much. Anyway.

The front-drive 2021 228i Gran Coupe is already displaying on BMW's US consumer site. Aside from the number of driven wheels, it's mechanically identical to the 228i xDrive Gran Coupe, meaning it uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 engine with 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. BMW will continue to offer the more powerful M235i Gran Coupe with all-wheel drive only.

The standard 228i is slightly more efficient than the xDrive version, with EPA fuel economy ratings of 24 miles per gallon city, 33 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined. The 228i xDrive, meanwhile, is rated at 23 mpg city, 33 mpg highway and 27 mpg combined.

A lower-cost, front-wheel-drive 2 Series Gran Coupe could certainly appeal to folks who don't need the added capability of all-wheel drive. , for example, offers both front- and all-wheel-drive versions of its subcompact and sedans for this very reason. And nobody seems to freak out about that.

2020 BMW 228i Gran Coupe will surprise you

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Watch this: 2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe: Hero or heretic?