What Is It?
Making its debut at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show is the all-new 2014 BMW 2 Series coupe, which is the successor to the sporty BMW 1 Series. The family resemblance is unmistakable, particularly in the upswept character line from the doorsill to the taillight, but the 2 Series is very much a next-generation car. Longer, wider and more spacious inside, the "2er" looks to broaden BMW's appeal in an increasingly competitive segment that includes the Audi A3 and Mercedes CLA-Class. To this end, the 2 Series will eventually be offered as a 4-door sedan, though it's only available in coupe form for now, with a convertible also slated for production.
The 2er's evolutionary styling changes mask significant changes under the hood. The entry-level 228i ditches BMW's venerable 3.0-liter inline-6, substituting the brand's ubiquitous 2.0-liter 4-cylinder motor that cranks out 240 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Hooked to the new 8-speed automatic transmission, the 228 scoots to 60 miles per hour in just 5.4 seconds, according to BMW. Happily, the trusty 6-speed manual is still available for those so inclined. Fuel economy is particularly impressive, checking in at 35 miles per gallon highway with the automatic and 34 mpg with the stick.
The other 2 Series headed for our shores is the M235i, which replaces both the 135i and its high-performance sibling, the 135is. Featuring the familiar turbocharged inline-6, rated at 322 hp and 332 lb-ft in this application, the M235i surges to 60 mph in a fleet 4.8 seconds yet returns up to 32 mpg. See our dedicated M235i story for further details.
Inside, the 2 Series improves markedly on the 1 Series' marginal materials quality, revealing supple surfaces and tight tolerances that match up well with Audi and Mercedes. Rear-seat space was always a 1 Series weakness, but the 2 Series is more hospitable thanks to its enlarged dimensions. Notably, iDrive comes standard on all 2 Series models, though the base 6.5-inch display is less impressive than the 8.8-in wide-screen that comes with the optional navigation system. Other technology features include a self-parking system and full smartphone integration with Facebook and Twitter compatibility.
The base 228i will start at $33,950, or about $1,500 more than the outgoing 128i, while the M235i is considerably pricier at $44,950. (The 2013 135i started at $40,525.)
When Can You Get It?
First quarter of 2014
Add It to Your Shopping List Because...
You think the new BMW 4 Series -- the coupe version of the 3 Series -- is too big for its own good. Like the 1 Series before it, the 2014 BMW 2 Series is the BMW for enthusiasts who miss the brand's former fixation on nimble, compact performance cars.
Other Cars to Consider
Audi A3 -- Although the new A3 is a 4-door sedan, it competes in the same class as the 2 Series, and its compact dimensions give it a comparable look and feel.
Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class -- Like the A3, the CLA is a 4-door car, but its vestigial back seat makes it more of a coupe with a couple extra doors.
Volkswagen GTI -- The cheaper GTI is genuinely fast and athletic, with an upscale interior that competes well against the BMW. Plus, its available 4-door hatchback body style trumps the 2 Series for practicality.
Used BMW 1 Series -- The 2 Series' predecessor is fundamentally similar, and if we found a certified pre-owned, 300-hp 135i for about the same price as a new, less-powerful 228i, the older car would be pretty tempting.