The 2020 BMW 2 Series continues to be the entry-level small premium car that charms and delights. It’s good enough to make someone looking at a 3 Series or 4 Series seriously question whether they need anything that big.
Whether powered by an eager turbocharged 4-cylinder engine or a sweet inline-6-cylinder engine, the 2 Series coupes and convertibles are well-balanced, engaging, nimble and responsive. The fact that it’s lighter than a 3 or 4 is a contributory factor to its agility.
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 even pristine used M3 territory.
A higher-performance M2 Competition coupe is reviewed separately. A newcomer to the 2 Series lineup is covered below.
What’s New for 2020?
Even though it’s called a Gran Coupe, it’s a small hatchback that could rival the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class as well as that company’s A-Class. With 34.4 inches of rear legroom, it’s more accommodating than the (somewhat cramped) 2-door coupe by just over an inch.
Slight tweaks to the coupe and convertible for this new model year consist of darker taillights. The 230i models gain a high-gloss black grille surround. M240i versions have high-gloss black side mirror housings, plus gray surrounds to the grille, air inlets and badges.
M240i cars also become available in Long Beach Blue, while carbon fiber trim can be ordered at no extra charge.
Rain-sensing wipers are now standard. Black leather upholstery with "Sand" stitching joins the array of options. See the 2020 BMW 2 Series models for sale near you
What We Like
- Forceful acceleration balanced with modest fuel consumption
- Fiercely capable handling yet refined ride
- Premium interior
- Optional AWD (standard in the Gran Coupe)
- Top safety scores
What We Don’t
- Costly options
- Not much rear passenger space
The 2-door variants of the 2 Series start with rear-wheel drive (RWD) and an 8-speed automatic transmission. A 6-speed manual transmission is a no-cost option in the coupes. AWD (known as xDrive) is available in 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 RWD, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates fuel economy at 24 miles per gallon in the city, 32 mpg on the highway and 27 mpg in combined driving. The manual transmission results in 21 mpg city/32 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined. The automatic/xDrive combination achieves 21 mpg city/31 mpg hwy/24 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 combine in RWD form, 21 mpg city/31 mpg hwy/24 mpg combined with AWD.
The M240i enjoys a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder engine rated at 335 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque. The RWD/manual coupe version returns 19 mpg city/27 mpg hwy/22 mpg combined. The RWD/automatic combination manages 22 mpg city/30 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined.
Enthusiasts will be pleased to hear that the convertible M240i also offers a manual transmission. With this gearbox and RWD, fuel consumption is 19 mpg city/27 mpg hwy/22 mpg combined. The automatic/RWD version yields 22 mpg city/30 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined.
Both M240i body styles with xDrive (automatic only) return 22 mpg city/30 mpg hwy/25 mpg combined.
The new-for-2020 Gran Coupe comes in 228i xDrive and M235i xDrive forms, with AWD as standard and an 8-speed automatic transmission. Both engines are turbocharged 2.0-liter/4-cylinder units. In the 228i, there’s 228 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. The M235i has 301 hp and 332 lb-ft of torque.
There weren’t any Gran Coupe EPA figures at the time of compiling this review, but we’re willing to bet that fuel consumption will be in the low 20s in the city, in the high 20s (or low 30s) on the highway and in the mid-20s overall.
Standard Features & Options
The 2020 BMW 2 Series subcompact coupe and soft-top convertible come in either 230i or M240i trims. The xDrive AWD system is a $2,000 option for these cars.
The 2020 2 Series Gran Coupe is available as a 228i xDrive or M235i xDrive models.
The 230i coupe ($36,295) comes with the turbo 4-cylinder engine, 17-in 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, front/rear parking sensors, 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, sunroof, rear spoiler, front sport seats with 4-way lumbar support and driver’s-side memory settings, sport instrument cluster, satellite radio and dynamic cruise control.
The M240i convertible ($51,395) has a soft top like the 230i convertible’s.
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 (for which the 228i xDrive Gran Coupe is also eligible) brings self-dimming mirrors, moonroof, lumbar support, ambient cabin lighting, keyless entry/ignition and satellite radio. A Premium package includes all the content of 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.
The 2020 228i xDrive Gran Coupe ($38,495) has 17-in alloy wheels, front/rear parking sensors, 40/20/40 split/fold rear seats, navigation, 8.8-in infotainment touchscreen and Apple CarPlay, along with most of the standard equipment of the 230i versions.
The M235i xDrive Gran Coupe ($46,495) comes with 18-in alloy wheels, torque-sensing (Torsen) front axle limited-slip differential, aerodynamic additions, ambient cabin lighting, plus M Sport additions that include uprated brakes, steering wheel, steering system and suspension.
The Gran Coupes are eligible for a head-up display and hands-free trunk operation.
Trunk space is a 2 Series strength, measuring 13.8 cu ft. in the coupe — generous for such a compact car. The Gran Coupe has 12 cu ft. of luggage area, but BMW hasn’t given a figure for when the rear seats are folded. The convertible offers about 9 cu ft., which the company 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, 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 (coupe/convertible) 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 RWD 2 Series models feel 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
2020 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.
2020 Audi A3 — A rival for the Gran Coupe, but surely due for a new generation soon.
2020 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.
2020 Mercedes-Benz A-Class — An entry level premium subcompact sedan, but only has 188 hp.
2020 Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class — Upgraded for 2020, with a new 302-hp AMG CLA 35 model coming in, which goes up against the M235i Gran Coupe.
2020 Mini Cooper — Not endowed with RWD or generous amounts of power, but still combines compact dimensions with a high fun factor.
Buyers will make their own judgments on which body style would be best. We always recommend going for as many advanced safety features as possible, along with Apple CarPlay (for those with iPhones). As much as the manual transmission appeals to enthusiasts, chances are an automatic version will be more appealing when the time comes to sell. Find a BMW 2 Series for sale