The 2019 BMW 2 Series follows the company’s logic of the smaller the number, the smaller the car. But this is no less of a driver’s machine because of its diminutive dimensions. On the contrary, there are fewer pounds to haul around compared with bigger cars, making the 2 Series responsive and agile. It’s also well-balanced.
Available in coupe or convertible form, this is one of BMW’s most engaging creations, whether powered by an eager turbocharged 4-cylinder engine or a sweet inline 6-cylinder engine. Yet it’s also comfortable and upscale — in the front seats, at least. 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 Competition coupe is reviewed separately.
What’s New for 2019?
Some driver aids — like forward-collision mitigation, lane-keeping assistance and parking sensors at both ends — are now standard.
What We Like
Forceful acceleration; modest fuel consumption; fiercely capable handling; refined ride; premium interior; optional all-wheel drive; top safety scores
What We Don’t
Costly options; not much rear space
All 2 Series variants start with rear-wheel drive and an 8-speed automatic transmission. A 6-speed manual transmission is a no-cost option in the coupes. All-wheel drive (known as xDrive) is available in all versions with the automatic transmission.
The 230i coupe has a turbocharged 2.0-liter inline 4-cylinder engine making 248 horsepower and 258 lb-ft. Paired with the automatic transmission and standard rear-wheel drive, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel economy at 24 miles per gallon city, 35 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined. The manual transmission results in 21 mpg city/32 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined. The automatic/xDrive combination yields 24 mpg city/33 mpg hwy/27 mpg combined.
Naturally, it’s the same engine in the automatic-only 230i convertible, but fuel consumption differs slightly: 23 mpg city/33 mpg hwy/27 mpg combined regardless of how many driven wheels.
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/30 mpg hwy/24 mpg combined. The manual transmission adjusts those figures to 18 mpg city/27 mpg hwy/21 mpg combined.
Both M240i body styles with xDrive return 21 mpg city/30 mpg hwy/24 mpg combined.
Standard Features & Options
The 2019 BMW 2 Series is offered as a subcompact 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 ($36,295) comes with the turbo 4-cylinder engine, 17-inch alloy wheels, LED lighting (including fog lights), push-button ignition, 10-way power-adjustable front seats, simulated leather upholstery, dual-zone automatic climate control, 60/40-split folding rear seats, a rearview camera, parking sensors front and rear, lane-departure warning, forward-collision mitigation with automatic emergency braking, Bluetooth, iPod/USB connectivity and the iDrive infotainment system with a 6.5-in screen.
The 230i convertible ($42,095) has a power-retractable soft-top in black, brown or Anthracite with silver accents.
The M240i coupe ($46,795) adds more features, including the turbo 6-cylinder engine, 18-in M-designed wheels, adaptive M Sport suspension, sport exhaust, upgraded brakes, variable-ratio steering, adaptive headlights, a sunroof, a rear spoiler, front sport seats with 4-way lumbar support and driver’s-side memory settings, sport instrument cluster, a satellite radio and dynamic cruise control.
The M240i convertible ($51,395) has a soft-top like the 230i convertible.
The 230i offers several features as options that are standard features in its higher-performance sibling. But specific to this humbler model is the M Sport package with a lowered suspension, 18-in M-specific wheels, aerodynamic kit and M steering wheel. The Track Handling package brings an adaptive suspension, variable-ratio steering and upgraded brakes.
A Convenience package brings self-dimming mirrors, a moonroof, lumbar support, ambient cabin lighting, keyless entry/ignition and satellite radio. A Premium package includes all of the content from the Convenience bundle and adds Apple CarPlay smartphone integration, navigation with real-time traffic updates, heated front seats/steering wheel and a universal garage door opener.
Other extras include a standalone 12-speaker Harmon Kardon audio system, Wi-Fi, wireless device charging, active cruise control, self-parking and 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.
The 2 Series comes standard with stability control and 4-wheel anti-lock 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). BMW Assist eCall, adding automatic crash notification and roadside assistance, is also standard.
In independent crash testing, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gave the 2 Series its top score of Good in every major 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 for 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 that 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 seems 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 may not be worth the few tenths of a second shaved from acceleration runs.
The manual transmission’s shift action is superb, but the ultra-smooth automatic achieves better fuel economy, which is something to keep in mind.
Other Cars to Consider
2019 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. Updated for this model year.
2019 Chevrolet Camaro — This is the closest any mainstream American sports machine has come to a European-style driving experience, especially with the 2.0-liter turbo engine.
2019 Mini Cooper — Not endowed with rear-wheel drive or generous amounts of power, but still combines compact dimensions with a high fun factor.
Only the buyer can make the decision between the soft-top or the coupe. The 230i is appreciably less expensive, but still has the ability to thrill, so that might be our choice unless we really wanted to spend another $10,500 or thereabouts. When resale time rolls around, it will probably be easier to sell versions with the automatic transmission.