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2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe M235i xDrive is a revolutionary in disguise

This 301-hp compact sport sedan is ready to bring the fight to the Audi S3 and Mercedes-AMG CLA 35, but it won't be without controversy.

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Chris Paukert

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2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe M235i xDrive
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This is the 2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe -- more specifically it's the top-spec M235i xDrive.

2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe M235i xDrive
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This compact German sport sedan is causing a stir among enthusiasts, and not everyone is happy about BMW's new direction.

2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe M235i xDrive
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That short dash-to-axle ratio might give it away: The 2 Series Gran Coupe is based on a front-wheel-drive architecture.

2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe M235i xDrive
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BMW has made its bones as the "Ultimate Driving Machine" on rear-wheel-drive-based platforms, so this change has some purists in a huff.

2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe M235i xDrive
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In truth, all North American 2 Series Gran Coupe models will all feature xDrive all-wheel drive. Other countries will get dedicated front-wheel drive models, however.

2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe M235i xDrive
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This M235i xDrive is the hottest version, at least for now, putting out 301 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque from its 2.0-liter in-line turbocharged four. 

That's a good amount of shove for a 3,600-pound compact sedan, enough to hit 60 mph in as little as 4.6 seconds en route to a top speed as high as 155 mph.

2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe M235i xDrive
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An eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters is mandatory -- no manual gearbox will be offered.

2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe M235i xDrive
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If the 2GC's architecture is controversial, the interior likely won't be. 

Well appointed and available with modern tech features including a digital gauge cluster, wireless charging and a WiFi hotspot, this car's interior is also roomier in back than rivals like the Mercedes-AMG CLA 35.

2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe M235i xDrive
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A relatively short wheelbase and stubby overhangs means this car lacks the long-legged grace of BMW's other Gran Coupe models.

2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe M235i xDrive
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The M235i features a Torsen limited-slip differential along with wider, stickier rubber and a more planted suspension for better handling.

2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe M235i xDrive
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Optional Dynamic Damper Control seems like $500 well spent, allowing the driver to better tailor the front-strut, rear multilink suspension to their liking.

2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe M235i xDrive
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BMW says this engine will sound better by the time it reaches the US thanks to a less-restrictive exhaust than the Euro model I sampled.

2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe M235i xDrive
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Keep clicking or scrolling for more images of the 2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe inside and out.

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