220I COUPÉ IS A BMW 2002 IN SPIRIT

220i Coupé

But does 220i Coupe deliver as handsomely as grandpa?

Some say that this new 2 Series Coupé is a modern take on the classic BMW 2002. That its compact combination of outstanding driving dynamics and macho design makes it as unique in the market as its grandfather was. They promise a most dynamic representation of sheer driving pleasure at a price to take your breath away. I suppose it’s fortuitous then, that I learned to drive in my dad’s orange Alpina tweaked BMW 2002 ti.

I was ten when we went to fetch it in Durban — straight off the docks. I itched to drive it. The old man let me take the wheel before I was even a teenager in the Kruger National Park. And when I turned 18, we still had the car and I drove it every day. Let’s just say it taught me the limits well. It was still good for a six-second 0-100 ten years later. All of which probably qualifies me to judge it against the grandkid…

135 kW 300 Nm two-stage turbo-hybrid

I need to be fair though, as this one’s the entry model. Still, it has a feisty new 135 kW 300 Nm two-stage turbocharged 48V mild-hybrid 2-litre four-cylinder petrol engine. Turning the rear wheels (yes, you read that right!) via BMW’s default paddle shifter and launch control eight-speed Steptronic Sport autobox. BMW says 220i Coupé sprints from to 100 km/h in 7.5 seconds. And sips 6.3 litres per hundred at 145 grams CO2 per kilometre.

Munich reminds us that 50:50 weight distribution brings balanced driving attributes along with agile and precise, dynamic handling. That above a lightweight body that gains 12 per cent static torsional rigidity. To enhance ride comfort and acoustics in both everyday driving and on the long road.

Advanced, rigid yet lightweight two-joint spring strut front axle and five-link rear suspension benefits lift-related dampers and coils. It reacts to minor road surface imperfections to bring high levels of comfort. Variable sport steering is vastly improved over its predecessor and no doubt enhanced by this one’s M Sport package Pro. That adds 19-inch M light-alloy wheels wrapped in Pirelli P Zero rubber, M Sport brakes, front lip and rear spoilers too.

220i Coupé Has More Stance

It may look familiar, but the classic new BMW three-box Two Coupé is a full 10.5 cm longer and six and a half centimetres wider than the old one. It rides on a 5 cm longer wheelbase and 5.4 centimetre wider front and 3.1 cm broader rear tracks. Yet it sits 28 millimetres lower. Which is why this one’s stance seems so much more settled. You will also notice the new x design bonnet, passenger compartment and boot, sculpted surfaces, and dynamic lines. All part of its optimised new aerodynamics.

That long bonnet, short overhangs and a set-back passenger compartment are classic BMW. Those wider tracks bring more flared wheel arches and triangular 3D forms, complemented by a power dome on the bonnet. That sits behind an actively aerodynamic and vertically slatted new BMW kidney grill between angled-off BMW Selective Beam adaptive full LED headlights with non-dazzling high beams.

Stepping aboard, our M Sport specced tester was bathed in quality materials like Alcantara leather and perforated Sensatec on the sport seats. That spread to the M Sport leather multifunction steering wheel and even the cushioned centre console knee pads. Featuring an acoustic glazed windscreen, three-zone climate control, and ambient lighting, there are individual rear seats for the two passengers in the rear. Ours even has a Harman Kardon surround sound system.

The Kitchen Sink Comes With 220i Coupé

The driver reads a high-resolution 12.3-inch digital screen Live Cockpit instrument cluster and a 10.25-inch control display. Driving Assistants include lane, rear collision and rear crossing traffic warnings and Active Cruise Control with Stop & Go and Speed Limit Assist. Add Park Distance Control, the Reversing Assistant with Camera, Surround and Remote 3D View. New 2 Series Coupé now also gets Head-Up Display and the BMW Drive Recorder.

A new BMW would not be a new BMW without more advanced connectivity and digital services and the 220i Coupe in no exception to that rule. Now packing BMW’s Operating System 7, drivers can pick the control interface that suits the moment. Any of the display touchscreen, iDrive pad, multifunction steering wheel buttons or voice controls a range of advanced digital services from BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant to Digital Key, Connected Music and Remote Software Upgrades.

BMW Live Cockpit Professional includes cloud-based BMW Maps navigation for fast and precise route and arrival time calculation, real time traffic data and quick and efficient word searching. The there’s Apple CarPlay and Android Auto mirroring and latest over the air remote software upgrading.

Little Grand Tourer Left Us Gobsmacked

The 390-litre boot is now easier accessible and benefits a 40:20:40 split folding rear seat backrest. To increase space on demand. If that’s not enough, the 220i Coupé will tow a surprisingly hefty 1,600 kilograms. That’s a fair-sized speed boat, or three dirt bikes easily on their trailers. Should that excite you, a removable trailer tow hitch is available as an option.

All of which left us a little gobsmacked. Of course, belting out that 2002 promise raises expectations. And in a pure dynamic sense, this newcomer delivers mighty well on that score. It proved a tad quicker than BMW’s claims in our tests and is an absolute pleasure to drive. Versus a straight 2002 rather than a ti, it is more than worthy a successor.

But where this little car really and truly stars, is in its sophistication, accomplishment, and ability to deliver a true grand coupe at a fraction of the fuss and complication. At this side of eight hundred grand, the BMW 220i Coupe is still a real rear-wheel drive grand tourer with all the appeal and excitement, an adequate performance envelope and frugality too. It does grandpa better than proud, too. — Michele Lupini

Images & testing: Giordano Lupini

ROAD TESTED: BMW 220i Coupé M Sport
Engine: 135 kW 300 Nm 2-litre turbo petrol I4
Drive: 8-speed automatic RWD
TESTED:
0-60 km/h:        3.24 sec
0-100 km/h:       7.29 sec
0-120 km/h:       10.20 sec
0-160 km/h:       18.86 sec
400m:             15.3 sec @ 146 km/h
80-120 km/h:      5.16 sec
120-160 km/h:     8.66 sec
CLAIMED:
VMax:             236 km/h
Fuel:             6.3 l/100 km
CO2:              145 g/km
Warranty/Service: 2y unl./5y 100K km
LIST PRICE:       R772K
RATED:            9
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