Tested: BMW 220d Gran Coupe is polarising but pleasant to drive
PRETORIA - It’s driven by the front wheels, has a diesel engine, has polarised views on its design and carries the legendary Bavarian auto maker's badge.
Meet the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupé 220d M Sport. It's based on the same platform as the 1 series, Mini Clubman, BMW X2 and BMW X1 as BMW and many other manufacturers produce more cost effective combinations of their various models.
There's nothing new about that and I reckon with the massive economic downturn as a result of Covid-19 we're going to be seeing a lot more of that.
They also happen to be front wheel driven which has had many BMW purists raising their eyebrows, although there is an xDrive option that sends power to the back wheels as and when needed.
Realistically though with this four door Gran Coupé 220d I hazard a guess that any owner wouldn't be having sleepless nights that track days won't be part of their regular routine.
Transversally mounted under the bonnet is a 2.0 litre four cylinder turbodiesel engine delivering 140kW and 400Nm that BMW says will get to a top speed of 233km/h and to 100km/h in 7.5 seconds.
So, you see, not bad for an oil burner but not numbers that are going to stomp you out the park either. It's more of a sophisticated drive made even more so with the eight-speed autobox that changes so smoothly you hardly notice.
But, there's always a but and in this case if you do decide to hurry up there's understeer and the power driving the front wheels gives the electricary the opportunity to engage making it safer for unsuspecting owners but taking something away from the driving experience.
Also not so smooth has been the reaction to its design, although when I stopped to buy a cold drink, a fellow 2 Series driver came over and mentioned that he loved the design, particularly in black. While I found the front end to be quite striking, from the back and side I could understand why some people refer to it as being rather awkward.
I think it's safe to say that BMW won't be winning any design awards for the 2 Series, but as South Africans often the badge means more than the looks, so there's that it has going for it.
There are no grumblings about the interior though which is stylishly finished off with typical BMW attention to detail.
The iDrive infotainment system borders on brilliant and uses more user friendly software than some of its competitors although it will take you a while to drill down into the different menus and settings and remember where they are.
With the Harman Kardon sound system, adaptive cruise control, chunky steering wheel with easy to get to dials and switches and dual-zone climate control the cabin is a very comfortable place to spend the time.
BMW's familiar digitised instrument cluster keeps you well informed as well as being easy to use and while it's pretty much the same throughout the BMW range, why scratch when there isn't an itch?
Seating at the back is easily accessed thanks to the two extra doors but the sloping roof does restrict tall people somewhat and is more suited to young teenagers and shorter adults rather than my frame.
The model on test came with six airbags, lane keep assist, blind spot monitor, adaptive cruise control and rear ISOFIX child seat mounting points which makes the 220d a very safe sedan.
BMW diesel engines are well known for their frugal consumption and we averaged out at 5.2l/100km over the four days in a proper combined cycle that included the regular school run and highway driving.
The BMW 2 Series Gran Coupé 220d M Sport has polarising views across all ages especially among more BMW traditionalists and while the powertrain is superb, I doubt it would prevent me from buying up into the 3 Series.