BMW 2-Series (2014) Driven

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BMW SA has launched its all-new 2-Series coupé to the South African market at a launch held in Kwa-Zulu Natal.

The current batch of newly-named BMWs are still confusing people, but essentially all the odd numbers are five doors, whereas the even numbers are two-door vehicles. The 4-Series coupé arrived in 2013 and now its smaller, more compact sibling, the 2-Series has made its way to South African shores.

Styling

I've always been a sucker for a small, attractive and sporty coupé, and the BMW 2-Series for me is one of the prettier cars in its arsenal. There's a distinct sportiness about the car and this is exaggerated by the lovely red and blue paint jobs which our launch cars came in. The striking daytime running light halos are eye catching too. It really is a good looking little car.

BMW 2-Series engine options

Currently there are three engines available at launch. There's the 220i with a 2.0-litre turbo motor pushing out 135 kW and 270 Nm to start off. For the diesel fans, you can get the 220d which has the same amount of power (135 kW) but torque is a hefty 380 Nm.

Finally, the M fans won't be disappointed as the M235i offers terrific performance from its 240 kW 3.0-litre turbocharged straight six. The 180 kW 2.0-litre engine will make an appearance in the 228i around the September mark.

Driving the M235i on track

The launch was held in Kwa-Zulu Natal and gave us the chance to sample the all-new BMW 4-Series convertible too. We started in the convertibles on a long drive from Durban's King Shaka airport, up to Pietermaritzburg and finally down the winding roads towards Port Shepstone.

Once at Port Shepstone, we had the opportunity to drive the M235i on the purpose-built race track of Dezzi Raceway. This track specialises in the art of drifting and the little M235i was eager to impress (and to light up its rear tyres). From the outside, the blue M235i is a really attractive car and when full throttle is applied, it sounds terrific. It's a proper sports car requiring some talent to make the most of its abilities, but be warned: it's an animal and with all the stability switched off, it will slide sideways with very little effort.

M235i on the public road

Once the driving shenanigans were over, we jumped into a BMW 2-Series to take us to our overnight stop. I had hoped to grab one of the oil-burning 220d models, but unfortunately my motoring journalist peers had the same idea. I landed up taking a second M235i and it gave me the chance to drive this hooligan on the public roads.

With its 240 kW straight six providing some awesome power driving through the rear wheels through a proper, short throw six-speed manual, the BMW M235i is not a car for sissies and it requires some proper driving skills to really appreciate it. Highway overtaking is a risky affair, even in the tame Comfort mode as you'll find yourself exceeding the speed limit with no real effort at all.

BMW 2-Series 220i

The next morning I made a beeline for the diesel 2-Series, but was thwarted again! Instead, I landed up with a rather lovely red 220i. With its 135 kW 2.0 engine providing just enough power to be entertaining, the 220i impressed me the most. It's a relaxing drive generally, but you can push sport mode which livens things up a little.

To be fair, with the amount of speed cameras in Kwa-Zulu Natal, you really don't want to be driving over the speed limits anyway. I took the BMW 220i around the Valley of a Thousand Hills and on the roads used by the Comrades Marathon runners, and its capable chassis and rear-wheel drive was a great combination.

Summary

In summary, the BMW 2-Series is a delightful and attractive addition to the fleet. It looks great, has numerous features and some great engines to choose from. In my opinion and if I had the money, I would simply go for the 220i right now. A pretty, sporty and classy coupé for Volkswagen Golf GTI money? Yes please! Admittedly the M235i offers exciting and real sports car-like performance, but I couldn't drive like that every day. If you had your eye on a base-model BMW Z4, then you'd be wise to reconsider and check out the 2-Series instead - you won't be disappointed. It is that good.

*With all BMWs you get the car with some features. Go through the brochure carefully and check the options, as you can quite easily add R100 000 on top of the base price. That said, the 2-Series is quite generous with standard specification

BMW 2-Series price in South Africa

Model Price Power Torque
220i R376 000 135 kW 270 Nm
220d R406 000 135 kW 380 Nm
M235i R512 000 240 kW 450 Nm
228i Coming in Sept Coming in Sept Coming in Sept
 

BMW 2-Series gallery

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