BMW roars back to its best with 2-Series

2-Series is a welcome break from BMW’s new people carriers and bizarre crossovers

Make: BMW

Model: 2-Series

Year: 2014

Fuel: Petrol

Date Reviewed: August 15, 2014

Wed, Aug 20, 2014, 01:00

   

In the past two years, BMW has embraced small electric cars, created a people carrier and even adopted front-wheel drive. It’s no wonder purists are crying foul and accusing the executives perched at the top of the firm’s “four-cylinder” towers in Munich of heresy.

As if the arrival of a front-wheel-drive people carrier wasn’t enough, BMW topped it all with the X4, a car that marries the dynamic limitations of an SUV to the impracticalities of a coupe. Yes folks, BMW is proud to give you the motoring equivalent of Bovril ice cream.

This from a firm that gave us the glorious M3 in 1987 – in the E30 model guise. Has BMW sold its soul in pursuit of sales targets and shareholder returns?

Thankfully, while there is no question that there are plenty of spreadsheet-wielding middle managers in Munich, there are still some purists in the BMW ranks fighting to retain BMW’s heritage. And the 2-Series is their clarion call to car fans.

The model derives its history from the rather lacklustre first-generation 1-Series hatchback, another model seemingly created on the back of reams of market data spat out of the latest management software programme. For some reason BMW has never managed to crack the hatchback market. Perhaps it’s a sign their heart is never really in it.

Then someone added a boot and suddenly the little car started to resemble the early iterations of the 3-Series. And then came the awkwardly named M135i. Suddenly in the mind’s eye you could see a glimmer of the magic that led models such as the old 2002Tii of the 1970s and the E36 328i of the early 1990s to become motoring icons. That flicker of old-fashioned fun has become a firework in the 2-Series.

This car didn’t come from an engineering afterthought on the 1-Series production line. This model was created from scratch as a coupe.

In an ever-bulging world, where cars are expanding as fast as western waistlines, the 2-Series can seem a little odd, like a proper coupe that shrunk in the wash. It’s probably not the best looking BMW you’ve come across, yet those proportions are just fine for practical motoring for any buyer up to a couple with a small child. The boot is larger than in the VW Golf for a start. But it’s on the road that the limited overhangs and squat stance starts to deliver.

The 1-Series coupe was a joy to drive and this car doesn’t let that accolade slip.

Over the last few weeks I’ve had the chance to test the 2-Series in varying guises, most recently the 220d SE and this barnstorming M235i. In the more “regular” versions it is true that the steering could be a little sharper, the ride a little sharper, the diesel a little less noisy when started from cold. But these are by matter of degrees. Certainly in comparison to what else is out there, the 2-Series is a blast.