In 2014 there was a schism in the BMW world akin to Martin Luther and Pope Leo X: BMW introduced the new 2 Series and, without saying it, more or less plugged that into where the 3 Series was. The 3 Series was moving upmarket – getting bigger, more luxurious, fatter, in a word – and the 2 was more directly in line with where the 3 started.
This was seen by diehard fans of the Bavarian marque as a near insult. BMW 3 Series owners love the 3 Series the way William S. Burroughs loved heroin: completely and unerringly for the rest of their lives.
Yes, BMW still made M3 variants. Yes BMW was still capable of making 3 Series cars go down the Bahn very, very fast. But, BMW felt the initial lightness and agility of the 3 Series was slowly being lost to feature bloat. Feature bloat is what turns small cars into bigger cars in the relentless pursuit of keeping the customer happy. Look at where Honda’s Accord started out, and where it is now. The original Accord is about the size of a current Honda Civic. The same goes for VW’s Golf, which started out about the size of a VW Polo and is now the size of a Jetta, sans trunk.
So, BMW bit the bullet, cooked up a new model, and over the past few years, was able to quell the potential native uprising by both gentle explanation and by making a pretty darn good car out of the 2 Series. And really, the 2 Series is a 3 Series, only without all the burgeoning fat and size.
The new, 2018 BMW 2 Series is a mid-cycle update, so what’s “new” here is down to that basic mid-cycle stuff: New color offerings, new wheels, updated interior design and materials, along with a “fresh look” for the LED headlamps and tail lamps. The overall exterior design hasn’t changed all that much. It still has that low-slung silhouette effect and stretched lines, but within the “compact proportions.” The new 2 Series has, however, a more striking front end.
It still has the classic BMW twin headlights along with the twin kidney grille, so even if you don’t see the badge, you know this is a BMW. Those twin headlights are now standard Bi-LED units that can throw a lot of photons down the Straße. If you want to go even further up the lighting food chain, adaptive LED headlights can also be spec’ed. On the 230i models, LED front fog lamps are standard, which is a nice touch.
Colors & Wheels
The three new exterior colors – a dark Mediterranean Blue Metallic, a lighter Seaside Blue Metallic, and Sunset Orange – are available for both the Coupe and Convertible. Added to the pre-existing colors, buyers now have 11 to choose from.
The range of alloy wheels has also grown. The 230i comes standard with a 17-inch Double-Spoke wheel while the M240i features an 18-inch M Double-Spoke rim as standard. If you go with the M Sport package, the 230i is equipped with either 18-inch M Light-Alloy Double-Spoke wheels, M Ferric Grey Metallic wheels, or 18- inch Double-Spoke wheels with all-season tires. Both the gearhead-centric Track Handling Package and the M Sport Package have optional 18-inch Alloy Ferric Grey wheels.
The inside has gotten a rather nice freshening along with a completely redesigned instrument panel. The 2018 BMW 2 Series comes standard with the Sport Line interior treatment, which can be specified Black with red contrast stitching if so desired. You can also choose between SensaTec fabric, available in Black and Oyster, and all models can now be ordered with Dakota Leather seats in Cognac. The Luxury Line adds Fineline Stream Wood Trim with Pearl Chrome highlights or Fineline Pure Wood Trim with Pear Chrome highlight. There are five different leather offerings, Aluminum interior strips, and Fineline wood accents.
The redesigned instrument panel features a center stack housing the radio and climate control panels. The cup holders (everso important to the American market) are located in the center storage compartment concealed by a sliding lid. The glove compartment blends in nicely and the air conditioning vents have been redesigned for additional room.
Power & Performance
Now, about that “M” in BMW. The 2018 BMW 2 Series Coupe and Convertible come in two models: The 230i and M240i. The 4-banger in the 230i produces 248 horsepower while the M Performance model gets a 6-cylinder plant that cranks out 335 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. We here at 1 Automoblog Towers highly recommend getting M240i with the big six. With the 6-speed manual, the M240i Coupe hits 60 in 4.6 seconds; 4.4 seconds with the 8-speed Steptronic Sport transmission.
The 8-speed Steptronic Sport transmission actually splits the difference between an automatic and a manual fairly well. Still, if you want to truly choose your own cogs, the 6-speed manual gearbox is available. Also available is xDrive, BMW’s all-wheel drive system, which offers optimum power transfer and better traction. XDrive will mitigate any potential oversteer/understeer situations.
So, the real question, especially among BMW aficionados, is whether the 2 Series can replace the 3 as the light, fun, chuckable playmate of the lineup. I will leave divining that answer up to those who insist a sedan can be just as much fun as a true sports car.
Tony Borroz has spent his entire life racing antique and sports cars. He means well, even if he has a bias towards lighter, agile cars rather than big engine muscle cars or family sedans.