The start point for the best source of fleet information
The 2 Series Gran Coupé represents an engineering shift for BMW, but it maintains all the traits image-conscious business users demand.
We try the diesel version of the new BMW 2 Series Gran Coupé for the first time.
17in alloy wheels, automatic two-zone air con, lane-departure warning, BMW i-Drive, cruise control with braking function, LED headlights, Park Distance Control (PDC) front and rear
If we could somehow capture all the hot air spouted about the dynamic advantages of rear-wheel drive cars over front-wheel drive cars we could probably cure global warming overnight.
If ever a car proved the futility of this argument, then it is the latest BMW 220d Gran Coupé.
Yes, it puts the power from its 2.0 diesel engine to the front wheels, rather than the more traditional rear-wheel-drive BMW approach - however, under normal driving conditions we'd challenge anyone to actually tell the difference.
Of course, there is the company's hallowed 50-50 weight distribution and incorruptible steering ethos to be considered, but what many people fail to realise is, with modern electronics and the latest chassis tuning techniques it is possible to overcome most, if not all, of these challenges.
For example, the Gran Coupé's 2.0-litre diesel engine has immense strength in depth, both in terms of its 190hp output and its muscular low and mid-range torque generation, so you could be forgiven for thinking under hard acceleration it would cause the front wheels to protest and squirm more vigorously than a Question Time politician. In practice, this is simply not the case, as the Gran Coupé tracks straight as an arrow, delivering strong acceleration with negligible influence on traction or steering connection.
It's a similar story in corners and under heavy braking where things remain impressively neutral and singularly devoid of the nose-heavy antics associated with old-school FWD motors.
So, why has BMW gone down this route? In short, it's all about money.
With fewer moving parts cars are cheaper to produce and this also has weight-saving benefits, with positive impacts on CO2 outputs. Then there are the packaging advantages. Slip behind the wheel of the Gran Coupé and because there's no bulky gearbox clearance housing there's more room for your left leg to fall into its natural resting gait, while the pedals and steering wheel are arranged in harmony to provide a centred driving position.
What hasn't changed is BMW's solid build quality, classy-looking cabin materials and benchmark i-Drive system. With its simple central scrolling wheel and favourites buttons, plus additional voice and touchscreen activation, menus can be selected and displayed via a variety of methods while still keeping an eye on the road ahead.
Further back there's plenty of leg and elbow room, but that swooping roofline does have a significant impact on headroom. Added to a dinky rear screen and high-mounted third rear brake light, the roofline also takes a heavy toll on rear visibility.
At least the Gran Coupe's boot is a deep, square shape, making it ideal for suitcases. That said, it is not long enough, even when used diagonally, to accommodate a set of golf clubs without resorting to folding one of the rear seatbacks down.
In terms of refinement, the engine is generally smooth and probably as quiet as many of the much-vaunted new generation of three-cylinder petrol engines, but it is not without issue, as it produces a pronounced lugging vibration at around 2,000rpm. To minimise this trait, the gearing of the smooth-shifting eight-speed auto is tuned to keep the engine away from this rev range as much as possible.
The inherent stiffness of the body shell certainly pays dividends in terms of dynamics, but it also provides an undesirable pathway for quite a bit of road noise to enter the cabin, which seems all the more prevalent as the suspension components themselves are so quiet. Consequently, in much the same way your ability to taste is aided by your capacity to smell, the quietness of the firm M Sport suspension has a knack of tricking you into thinking impacts are less harsh than they actually are. And in many ways that sums the Gran Coupé up. Something in the back of your mind may be telling you it's not a thoroughbred BMW in the traditional sense of the word, but driving it confirms that is exactly what it is.