Wednesday, July 29, 2020


Here we go again.

If memory serves, which it doesn’t always, Mercedes-Benz was the first to muddy the coupe-sedan waters when it introduced the idea of a four-door coupe a few years ago. Until then, it had been pretty accepted that a sedan had four doors, a coupe two.

Now BMW has jumped in with a version of its 2-Series coupes with a powerful four-door model it dubs a “Gran Coupe.”

A four-door sedan in the real world, the 2020 BMW M235i xDrive Grand Coupe has the sloping roofline of coupe and shares a platform with BMW’s X2 crossover SUV. It delivers a lively driving experience one would expect from a BMW model that has undergone “M” performance upgrades.

Under the hood is a 2.0-liter twin-turbocharged inline 4-cylinder rated at 301 horsepower and 332 pound-feet of torque. It is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission that can be operated manually via steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters.

The website reports a zero-to-60 mph clocking of 4.6 seconds for the M235i, which should satisfy all but the most power hungry among us. 

For those seeking even quicker times in the 2-Series, the new M2 CS clocks in at under 3 seconds. There’s also a slightly less punchy 228i xDrive Gran Coupe rated at 228 hp and 258 lb.-ft. in the 2-Series portfolio.

Fuel consumption for the M235i is a respectable 23 miles-per-gallon, city, 32 highway, and 26 overall using premium gas, of course.

Though the M235i gets such M treatments as the upgraded Performance engine and distinct M Sport Brakes, M suspension, M steering wheel, and M Sport seats, it also comes with BMW’s very “un-M-like” all-wheel-drive xDrive system that favors the front wheels with power distribution.

Purists used to the customary rear-wheel-drive configuration for M models may not like it, but AWD has its advantages, too. The performance seems just as agile and athletic as RWD S-Series models while remaining a comfortable highway cruiser.

Inside the M235i offers the best in creature comforts with expansive use of leather and soft-touch surfaces. The two-tone color scheme is especially striking. Unlike other Series models that customarily seat four, the Gran Coupe seats five, though those in the backseat will either soon become good friends or worst enemies.

Standard equipment or no-charge extras in addition to the M features already cited include Active Blind Spot and Pedestrian Detection, Lane Departure Warning, Frontal Collision Warning, Speed Limit Info, keyless entry and push-button start, lumbar support, automatic climate control, park distance control, Apple CarPlay, rear spoiler, Anthracite headliner, SiriusXM Satellite Radio with one-year subscription, 8.8-inch touchscreen and 8.8-inch instrument cluster, LED headlights, dual-zone climate control.

Pricing starts at $45,500 and a handful of options on my test vehicle that included $2,650 for a Premium Package (heated steering wheel, adaptive full LED lights, head-up display, and navigation) and $995 destination and delivery ran the bottom line to $51,295.

What I liked about the 2020 BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupe: It’s very quick and powerful and throttle response is right on the money, especially when set in Sport mode. The front seats are very comfortable, and the interior overflows with soft premium leather. Infotainment functions aren’t the most user-friendly but still are easy to use once you get the hang of the console knob. Some functions also operate off buttons and/or voice. The trunk is a good size for its class (12 cubic feet).

What didn’t like about the 2020 BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupe: The backseat is on the snug side with less than 35 inches of legroom. With the sloping roofline, three adults likely would find it cramped in the rear, especially when it comes to headroom for taller riders. I would like a larger monitor for the rearview camera.

Would I buy the 2020 BMW M235i xDrive Gran Coupe? Yes. It is a fun vehicle to drive, and offers a nice alternative to the company’s 3-Series, which is a bit larger and pricier.

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