BMW coupes used to be all about compactness, lightness and rapid responses. The 2 Series coupe still answers the call and now gets a minor refresh to build upon recent changes made to its petrol engine rosta. At the top of the line-up, the 370bhp M2 variant remains but you don't need one of those to get really satisfying performance, thanks to revitalised 2.0-litre and 3.0-litre petrol models further down the range.
Rather encouragingly, BMW has given the 2 Series line-up a serious dose of engine in recent times. Even the entry level models aren't going to hang around. Drive on all models is directed to the back wheels and you get to choose between a six-speed manual gearbox or the quite brilliant eight-speed ZF automatic transmission. Diesel options include the 150bhp 218d, the 190bhp 220d and the 224bhp 225d. The 220d diesel variant will be the most popular of the trio, serving up a tall stack of torque, with 380Nm available from just 1,750rpm. The key recent developments though, have centred around changes to the petrol line-up thanks to a new Baukasten 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine and a revised 3.0-litre straight six. The base 220i 2.0-litre variant develops the same 184bhp output as before but is more efficient. Further up the range, the same unit is used in a more powerful 252bhp state of tune by a 230i model that gets to 62mph in just 5.8s.
Pride of place though, goes to the six cylinder petrol versions, the M240i these days offers 340bhp, while the fearsome M2 fronts up with 370bhp. Even the M240i variant is very quick indeed. If you specify it with the eight speed automatic transmission, it'll get to 62mph in a mere 4.6 seconds. Press the Sport button and you'll immediately notice the steering weight up and the throttle response sharpen. Press the button once more and you'll find Sport+, which partially disengages the stability control and offers an even spikier throttle pedal. The chassis balance is a good deal more benign than the occasionally malevolent old 1 Series Coupe and it's a better driver as a result. Expect to be mercilessly harassed by these cars on foreseeable UK track days.
On to design. The 2 Series coupe has always been a very cohesive piece of penmanship and that effect has been further improved by recent styling changes.
Exterior updates include piercing LED headlights that come as standard, complete with hallmark four corona ring LED daytime running lights. All models gain enlarged kidney grilles with a more prominent chrome surround. In addition, all standard range variants get LED front fog lights as standard and offer a re-designed front bumper with a smarter air-intake design. At the rear, smarter LED tail lights with redesigned LED light bars now feature, while 'Sport' models get a re-styled bumper with sculpted design and high-gloss black trim. As for the interior updates, well, there's a re-designed instrument panel, plus a smarter centre console with a sliding cup holder cover and pearl chrome accents. On M Sport and M240i models, the instrument cluster features a Black Optic display with 3D effect dials - an option with other variants in the line-up.
BMW's much-improved iDrive system features and delivers the latest-generation iDrive software on the standard BMW Navigation and BMW Professional Navigation set-ups. The large 8.8-inch screen on the latter navigation system is also equipped with BMW Touch Control for the first time, offering drivers the choice of iDrive with Touch pad, voice control and touchscreen to interact with the system. Practicalities remain as before. Rear seat space isn't bad for a small coupe and the boot is a useful 390-litres in size.
And in summary? Well BMW used to be a company with an unerring ability to zero in on the bullseye. That was fairly easy when your range consisted of 3, 5, 6 and 7 Series cars. Today though, the brand has its 1, 2, and 4 Series models, plus X1, X3, X5, X6 and Z4 series cars, as well as the various Gran Coupe and Active Tourer options. The range has ballooned and the quality in depth is inevitably a little more variable. There are some great cars and some not so brilliant model lines. This 2 Series Coupe might well be right near the top of the tree. It's an inspired piece of product development and it's just been executed so well.
Compact proportions, low weight and good performance were the design parameters for this car and BMW has nailed all three. If you feel the 3 Series coupe - and latterly its 4 Series replacement - is a car that no longer knows how to let its hair down, this Munich maker has just the answer in its fun-size sibling.Click here to find out more about our BMW 2 Series Coupe range