• 2 Series is the new 1 Series
  • A new generation of BMW's subcompact
  • Return of the M

The arrival of the BMW 2 Series Coupe heralds the departure of the 1 Series badge -- from the U.S., at least.

Some history: The 1 Series started in Europe in 2009 as a hatchback. But it has never been on sale here because conventional wisdom says American car buyers don't like hatchbacks. When coupe and convertible versions were produced in 2007 (as 2008 model year cars), BMW took a chance and brought those stateside, each powered by a choice of two muscular 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder engines.

That has been the 1 Series way until now -- or the first quarter of 2014, to be exact. BMW fans are probably aware of the 3 Series making a recent fork in its trail, as the coupe and convertible variants are now known as the BMW 4 Series.

That's what's happened here. However, since only the coupe and convertible versions of the 1 Series are on sale in the U.S., 2 replaces 1 completely. At the moment, the coupe is dominating the news. It's just a matter of time before the convertible makes its own splash.

The name change also coincides with a new generation of this premium subcompact. Beneath its redesigned skin, the 2 is longer by 2.8 inches, wider by 1.3 inches and the wheelbase -- the distance between the front and rear axles -- is also stretched by 1.3 inches. The result is a little extra passenger space in the front and rear, plus a tad more trunk volume (0.7 cu ft, bringing the total to 13.8 cu ft).

The BMW 228i Coupe gets a 4-cylinder engine, although augmented by a twin-turbocharger setup. Output is rated at 240 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. That goes through an 8-speed automatic transmission to drive the rear wheels. Sprinting from standstill to 60 miles per hour takes around 5.4 seconds, and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) economy estimates run to 23 miles per gallon city/35 mpg hwy, and 27 mpg in combined city and highway driving.

The big cause for celebration, though, is the return of an M badge to BMW's smallest series. Anything BMW makes in which there's an M in the model name denotes high performance, an area where BMW excels.

Another bit of history: There was a limited-run yet highly acclaimed 1M available from 2011 to 2012.

Now a BMW M235i Coupe will go on sale, allowing owners to enjoy 322 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque from a twin-turbo 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder. Zero-to-60 mph is dispatched in just 4.8 seconds, while EPA's preliminary figures are 22 mpg city/32 mpg hwy, and 25 mpg in combined city and highway driving. These numbers also apply to the 8-speed transmission. BMW offers a 6-speed manual, which results in a slightly higher thirst in both models.

The M235i gets variable sport steering, uprated brakes and an adaptive suspension as standard. These will be options on the 228i.

Since the old 1M had 340 hp, this new, more powerful 2 is not in the same league, but a proper 2M (or M2) could be part of BMW's plans.

In the meantime, the 228i starts at $33,025 and the M235i at $44,025. Both prices include $925 destination and handling charges. Their official debut takes place in January at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show.

What it means to you: The new BMW 2 Series makes the small, agile and fun-filled 1 Series twice as appealing.

author photo

Colin Ryan has driven hundreds of cars thousands of miles while writing for BBC Top Gear magazine, Popular Mechanics, the Los Angeles Times, European Car, Import Tuner and many other publications, websites, TV shows, etc.

Related Articles & Car Reviews

Find Cars for sale near you:

Research by Vehicle Type

  • Convertible
  • Coupe
  • Hatchback
  • Hybrid
  • Luxury
  • Sedan
  • SUV
  • Truck
  • Van/Minivan
  • Wagon

Shopping Tools

Loading Ajax Content Loading Ajax Content