2022 BMW 2 Series First Test: Saving BMW’s Soul?

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It’s supposed to be that. The spiritual successor. The last stronghold. The 2 Series is intended to preserve the essence of BMW in automotive purity and man-machine synergy. This is the coupe we should be able to look at amid a range of towering crossovers and bizarre grilles and know that, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary, BMW has not lost its soul.

It’s a heavyweight to carry for this little BMW, especially since its name was stolen by an odd front-wheel drive crossover sedan, an existential challenge of sorts that we reflected on as we drove the redesigned 2022. and proudly rear-wheel drive. BMW 2 Series. What a challenge it is: a car that must aim for the future without abandoning the spirit of the iconic BMW past. The result? Success, but that doesn’t mean the Series 2 is the same as before.

Increases almost everywhere

We’ll resist comments about the styling of the new 2 Series, other than saying that our impression didn’t change once we saw it in metal. It is not a design that has to be seen up close to be understood. Looks like it does in the photos, do what you want with it.

What struck us the most seeing him in the sunlight was how much bigger he got. Elongated in length and wheelbase, wider in body and track, the only measurement that has been reduced is height. This generation 2 series G42 is still small, but it does not look so small.

These exterior expansions are not necessarily reflected in the interior. While the measurements of the front passengers are almost the same, the already small rear seats lose about an inch of head and leg room. Cargo capacity also decreases.

Of course, the gains we like the most are in the engines – they’re not bigger in displacement, but they’re stronger. The 230i retains a version of BMW’s turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4 engine, which now produces 7 horsepower and 37 lb-ft of torque for 255 horsepower and 295 lb-ft. Either way, an additional 47 horsepower and 1 lb-ft can be found in the turbocharged 3.0-liter I-6 in the M240i xDrive, bringing the total to 382 horsepower and 365 lb-ft. For now, the 230i is rear-wheel drive only and the M240i requires xDrive all-wheel drive; both configurations will be offered on either car in the future. What is not known is whether a manual transmission will ever be available in addition to the standard eight-speed automatic.

We knew the 2 Series was quick from our testing of previous models, although knowing how faster the 2022 car is, we’ll have to wait until it hits our test track. This is clear however: it is still very powerful.

The 230i is an impressive base to build on

Our driving started in a 2022 BMW 230i, not a base example. Above its starting price of around $ 37,000, BMW had outfitted this particular 230i with nearly $ 8,000 of M performance parts, including suspension, brakes, variable-ratio steering and a rear differential. .

The old journeys of other BMW M Sport suspensions prompted us to seek chiropractic therapy. But for this car at least, BMW seems to have nailed the piece. Ride quality remains firm and tight, transmitting road texture and keeping body movements under dexterous control, while new smoothness absorbs chatter and gives the 2 Series a more enjoyable and comfortable driving experience.

Tightened by M-branded calipers, the improved brakes affixed to this 230i offer a good balance between performance and comfort. They’re very responsive but not overly snappy, biting just enough at the top of the pedal for smoother, harder stops throughout the ride. More rapid release of the brakes would allow better modulation.

Regarding the M Variable Steering System, we found a slight mismatch between how we felt with the steering wheel in our hands and what was happening on the front axle, guessing in the direction of the car and making the necessary adjustments on canyon roads. The distance between the front wheels and the driver’s seat adds to the feeling of distance, a possible result of its increased body length. Even so, compared to the all-wheel-drive M240i xDrive we tested next, the 230i’s undriven front end felt light and crisp.

Its M differential likely contributed to that, deploying the 2.0-liter’s abundant torque to pivot around the inside rear wheel. With all that twist delivered just at idle, the 230i picks up speed with ease as smart, crisp transmission programming keeps the engine in its solid midrange. While optional M parts increase the 230i’s overall play and its energetic, smooth and civilized motor delivers a decent growl, it remains fairly calm – there’s not enough horsepower to really blast the chassis. This changes in the M240i xDrive.

The 2022 M240i xDrive proves it

Initially, the M240i xDrive was indistinguishable from the lesser 230i, it seemed understated, unenthusiastic. It took a set of hilly roads to really reveal what separates it and its starting price of nearly $ 50,000 from its Series 2 sister.

The chassis of the G42 is remarkably composed, evidenced by the way it deftly manages the power output of the I-6 – the more powerful engine makes it easier to explore other limits. Foot down, the M240i xDrive builds power energetically and gets noticeably fast. Considering the standard M gear, its steering, suspension, and brakes felt similar to the well-equipped 230i we had just blown up.

Now, however, the oscillation of the tachometer showed the depth of the capabilities of each of these systems. Their harmonious balance makes the M240i easy to drive quickly, letting the driver push it without fear of suddenly stepping over the edge. A feeling of speed lingers thanks to its slightly detached steering and other controls – this 2 doesn’t have to be driven full-blast to be appreciated.

As one track session showed, the M240i xDrive stays calm even as the pace increases to maximum attack, instilling confidence while going through transitions and rushing from corner exits to braking points. Sometimes, although the extra traction of the xDrive dulls the edge; despite its rear bias, you’ll be hard pressed to let go of the M240i. (Surely the eventual rear-wheel drive equivalent will be happier with the tail.) Whichever model you choose, drivers who intend to follow the Series 2 will want to fortify the tires and brakes for the longer stints. , but the overall fundamentals promise excellence for the inevitable M2.

Promise kept?

Sporty as she is in the canyons and on the track, driving through the city streets emphasized the relaxed side of the 2. This seems to be its predominant character. There is a certain smoothness – a slight disconnect – through its interfaces. The answers are refined between the different driving modes, but comfort tends to take precedence over connectivity.

Inside, austerity reigns supreme. Materials match the price at best, and while the cabin is laid out in a way that mimics more expensive BMWs, this arrangement strikes us as straightforward. These next-level models at least get more finely crafted trims and finishes, while the Series 2 layout is brought to life by textured panel moldings and left (and thankfully optional) inserts painted with stripes in the color M. At high speed, there is a bit of rolling noise and tire chattering. It’s a cabin with enough technology and build quality to suffice and a little more.

But taken as a whole, the updated 2022 BMW 2 Series is an experience that can only come from a company that has been making cars like this for a very long time – that it still does in the SUV age. and that electrification is reason enough. celebrate. While not as pure as it used to be given its gains in size, power and functionality, the 2 Series remains special. His ancestors would be proud.

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