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2018 BMW 2 Series: New Car Review

If you’re looking for information on a newer BMW 2 Series, we’ve published an updated review: 2019 BMW 2 Series Review

It’s easy to love the 2018 BMW 2 Series. Especially if your tastes run to cars that are compact, agile, balanced and quick. This is one of BMW’s most engaging creations, whether powered by an eager turbocharged 4-cylinder engine or a sweet inline 6-cylinder, and in coupe or convertible form. Yet it’s also comfortable and upscale.

Keep an eye on the options, though, as they can easily push the bottom line up into 4 Series or pristine used M3 territory.

A higher-performance M2 coupe is reviewed separately.

What’s New for 2018?

This model year brings a mild facelift. The "double kidney" grille is a touch wider, the front air intakes are larger, and the cabin has also seen a spruce-up, including a redesigned instrument panel. LED lighting and power adjustable front seats come as standard right from the start. See the 2018 BMW 2 Series models for sale near you

What We Like

Forceful acceleration; modest fuel consumption; capable handling; refined ride; premium interior; optional all-wheel drive; top safety scores

What We Don’t

Costly options; not much rear space

How Much?

$35,795-$50,895

Fuel Economy

All 2 Series models start with rear-wheel drive and an 8-speed automatic transmission. A 6-speed manual transmission is a no-cost option with this drive setup. All-wheel drive is an option on all models, but only with the automatic transmission.

The 230i coupe has a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder engine making 248 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. Paired with the automatic transmission, fuel economy is estimated at 24 miles per gallon in the city, 33 mpg on the highway and 27 mpg in combined driving, regardless of how many driven wheels there are. The manual transmission results in 21 mpg city/32 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined.

Naturally, it’s the same engine in the automatic-only 230i convertible, but fuel consumption differs slightly: 23 mpg city/34 mpg hwy/27 mpg combined with rear-wheel drive, and 22 mpg city/33 mpg hwy/26 mpg combined with all-wheel drive.

The M240i enjoys a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder engine rated at 335 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. Both the rear-drive/automatic coupe and convertible return a still-respectable 21 mpg city/32 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined. The manual transmission modifies those figures to 19 mpg city/28 mpg hwy/22 mpg combined for the coupe and 19 mpg city/29 mpg hwy/23 mpg combined for the convertible.

Both M240i body styles with all-wheel drive (xDrive in BMW-speak) return 21 mpg city/31 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined.

These EPA figures are for the 2017 model, since the agency hasn’t released any 2018 figures at the time of this writing. However, if there are any differences, they won’t be drastic.

Standard Features & Options

The 2018 BMW 2 Series is offered as a coupe or soft-top convertible in either 230i or M240i trim. The xDrive all-wheel-drive system is a $2,000 option on all models.

The 230i coupe ($35,795) comes standard with the turbo 4-cylinder engine, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED lighting (including fog lights), push-button start, power adjustable front seats, leatherette upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, 60/40-split folding rear seats, Bluetooth, iPod/USB connectivity and the iDrive infotainment system with a 6.5-in screen.

The 230i convertible ($41,595) has a power-retractable soft-top in black, brown or Anthracite with silver accents.

The M240i coupe ($46,295) adds more features, including the turbo 6-cylinder engine, 18-in M-designed wheels, an adaptive M Sport suspension, a sport exhaust, upgraded brakes, variable-ratio steering, adaptive headlights, a sunroof, a rear spoiler, 10-way power-adjustable front sport seats with driver memory, a sport instrument cluster and dynamic cruise control.

The M240i convertible ($50,895) has a soft-top like the 230i convertible’s.

The 230i offers a wider range of options than its high-performance sibling. The M Sport package makes a 230i sportier with a lowered suspension, 18-in M-specific wheels, an aerodynamic kit and an M steering wheel. The Track Handling package brings an adaptive suspension, variable-ratio steering and upgraded brakes.

All models offer packages that provide the latest in luxury and gadgetry, along with a standalone 12-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system. Various other extras are available, such as navigation, heated front seats, parking sensors, a self-parking system and a rearview camera, as well as a limited-slip differential for the M240i.

Trunk space is a 2 Series strength, measuring 13.8 cu ft. in the coupe — generous for such a compact car. The convertible offers about 9 cu ft., which BMW says is enough to accommodate a pair of golf bags.

Safety

The 2 Series comes standard with stability control and 4-wheel antilock disc brakes. The coupe gets eight airbags (front, front side, front knee and full-length side curtain), while the convertible comes with six (all except the side curtain airbags).

Optional safety features include BMW Assist, which adds automatic crash notification and roadside assistance, plus lane-departure warning and a forward-collision mitigation system with automatic emergency braking.

In independent crash testing, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2 Series its top score of Good in every category. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has yet to put the 2 Series through its paces.

Behind the Wheel

The 2 Series feels thrillingly taut from the driver’s seat, which is a welcome departure from BMW’s increasing tendency toward luxury these days. It’s tight in the back seat, which is generally a kids-only arrangement.

Despite high-class cabin materials, the 2 Series leaves no doubt it’s here to entertain. The ride is supple and refined, yet the main focus is clearly on sharp responses — which makes it special, especially in light of its comparatively reasonable pricing.

The entry-level 4-cylinder engine feels like it’s punching above its declared output numbers, per BMW’s norm. As awesome as the M240i’s engine feels (and sounds) at full throttle, it carries a premium of $10,500 in coupe form, and that may not be worth the few tenths of a second shaved from acceleration runs.

The manual’s shift action is superb, but the ultra-smooth automatic gets better fuel economy, which is something to keep in mind.

Other Cars to Consider

2018 Audi TT — It starts out with a higher price than the 230i coupe and offers even less room for rear passengers, but it’s compact, sporty and German.

2018 Chevrolet Camaro — This is the closest any mainstream American sports machine has come to a European driving experience, especially with the 2.0-liter turbo engine.

2018 Mini Cooper — Not endowed with rear-wheel drive or generous amounts of power, but still combines compact dimensions with a high fun factor.

Used BMW M3/M4 — In sedan, coupe or convertible body styles, there are driving thrills by the ton.

Autotrader’s Advice

The 2 Series is perhaps most tempting as an entry-level model. Choosing between the coupe or convertible is a personal call. As the smaller engine is still really good, going for the more powerful version comes down to tastes and budget. The M240i also gets pretty close to the M2.

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