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Sunday, May 30, 2021

Review: 2021 BMW 218i Gran Coupe Sport


The 2 Series is the odd child of the BMW family. Spawning four body styles, it rides on two separate platforms with one being rear-wheel drive, and the other being front-wheel drive. Even more confusing, the 2 Series Gran Coupe you see here is unrelated to the 2 Series Coupe despite BMW being known for coming up with all sorts of derivatives. It’s also clear from the photos that it’s not a coupe; it’s a sedan. The 2 GC’s rather complicated lineage sets the stage on what to expect with the rest of the car.

For starters, the 2 GC shares its genetic material with the 1 Series—down to the transverse engine layout and front-wheel drive. It also largely duplicates its face down to the big grille and angled-back headlights. Like BMW’s hatchback, it looks somewhat front-heavy, but thanks to the low roof (afforded by the frameless doors) and rising belt line, this one manages to squeeze out a bit more sex appeal. The rear is polarizing, but at least designers managed to tie the lines nicely to the flagship 8 Gran Coupe.



Slip inside, and the 1 Series story continues with the dashboard pretty much borrowed from the hatchback. It looks rather busy thanks to all the lines, polygons, and even varying textures going about. However, it’s still a nice place to be in. Build quality and material choices are top-notch; they don’t feel entry-level at all. As with any other BMW, the driving position is the top draw with plenty of adjustment to the steering wheel and seats. The pedal placement is also spot on.

In terms of tech, the 2 GC doesn’t stray away from other entry-level BMWs. In front of the driver is an instrument panel that mixes traditional analog gauges with a 5.1-inch display, while at the center is an 8.8-inch infotainment display with iDrive. Overall, it’s still the best interface in the premium segment, although it must be said that it lacks any sort of smartphone connectivity (as standard, at least). Standard seating is Sensatec, a vegan-friendly synthetic leather. It looks and feels great, as do the textured “Illuminated Berlin” dash trim.



There are no complaints about front seat space. There’s plenty of head- and legroom to go about. The door bins are of a decent size as are the glovebox and center arm rest console. Perhaps the oddest thing here is the decision to add a dedicated smartphone tray in front of the shift lever. The use is very specific it won’t fit keys or wallets). It’s a shameless and constant reminder to owners that they didn’t pay extra for the wireless charging option.

Backseat accommodations are also pretty good for average-sized Filipinos. There are even rear vents and two USB Type C charging ports. For the vertically gifted though, they’ll find their heads wedged against the slopping roofline. This is most especially true for the middle passenger which may encounter problems past the 170 cm height mark.



At the back, the trunk space is quite large, and because the 2 GC runs on standard run-flat tires, there’s even a handy underfloor storage space. The opening may be on the small side, but because there’s no lip to negotiate, it’s easy to plop in heavy objects like luggage. Interestingly, it has a leg up the standard 318i Sport thanks to its standard 60/40 split-folding rear seats.

Speaking of the 318i Sport, this 2 GC may share the 3 Series’ “18i” designation, but their engines are different. While its bigger, more traditional brother uses a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder to drive the rear wheels, the 218i Gran Coupe drops about 500 ccs of displacement and one cylinder, and it drives the front wheels. Power outputs though remain respectable—140 horsepower and 220 Nm of torque. BMW says the century mark arrives in 8.7 seconds, which isn’t fast, but alright.



Admittedly, this setup results in shortage of low-end pull, so thankfully, the motor makes up for it with its eagerness. Moreover, there’s a nice thrummy soundtrack that doesn’t sound or feel like a three-pot. Acceleration is always smooth and linear. And once it’s up to speed, it cruises along happily enough. It also scores very well in terms of fuel efficiency, registering 13.69 km/L with an average speed of 36 km/h.

In another twist, the automatic gearbox connected to the engine isn’t a traditional torque converter; rather, it’s the dual clutch kind. Still, the shifts are buttery and it’s largely obedient. That said, there’s no cruise control here—only an adjustable speed limiter. Plus, it tends to be very aggressive with the engagement of the idle start/stop system even in the default Comfort mode.



Through corners, the 2 GC hides its front-drive origins well with its precise reactions, and dogged resistance to understeer. Better yet, while it manages to maintain tight control of its body movements, its ride remains cosseting. It has this ability to swallow bumps without nervousness; staying comfortable even on ragged surfaces. The steering is excellent too, feeling lively and alert with every interaction. It’s not a rapid pointy-steering car, but there’s still commendable feedback allowing drivers to play with it more.

In the confusing world of BMW, the 2 Series Gran Coupe isn’t meant to replace the exciting rear-wheel drive 2 Series Coupe. Despite its name, this one’s supposed to serve as the brand’s entry-level sedan—a sort of bridge between the 1 Series hatchback and the 3 Series sedan. Yet, the price is not exactly reflective given it’s the same price as the 318i Sport at P 2.990 million.



And there is the rub. There are already compromises along the way—the 3-cylinder engine and front-drive platform being the most noticeable. Plus, the 2 GC is not exactly the proper entry-level BMW sedan (that’s the 3 Series), nor is it the cheapest (that’s the 1 Series). In the end, the 218i Gran Coupe is targeting a very small niche. While there is some confusion on who that buyer may be, but for those curious with it, it delivers an unmistakable air of refinement—a rarity in the premium entry-level sedan segment.

2021 BMW 218i Gran Coupe

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Ownership 2021 BMW 218i Gran Coupe
Year Introduced 2020
Vehicle Classification Luxury Car
Warranty 5 years / 200,000 kilometers
The Basics
Body Type Luxury Car
Seating 5
Engine / Drive F/F
Under the Hood
Displacement (liters) 1.5
Aspiration Turbocharged
Fuel Delivery Direct Injection
Layout / # of Cylinders I3
BHP @ rpm 140 @ 4,600-6,500
Nm @ rpm 220 @ 1,480-4,200
Fuel / Min. Octane Gasoline / 91~
Transmission 7 DCT
Cruise Control No, Limiter
Fuel Economy @ Ave. Speed 13.69 km/L @ 36 km/h
Dimensions and Weights
Length (mm) 4,526
Width (mm) 1,800
Height (mm) 1,420
Wheelbase (mm) 2,670
Curb Weight (kg) 1,425
Suspension and Tires
Front Suspension Independent, MacPherson Strut
Rear Suspension Independent, Multi-link
Front Brakes Vented Disc
Rear Brakes Disc
Parking Brake Electric
Tires Hankook Ventus S1 Evo3 RFT 225/45 R 17 Y (f & r)
Wheels Alloy
Safety Features
Airbags 8
Anti-Lock Brakes (ABS) Yes, with EBD
Traction / Stability Control Yes
Parking Sensors Yes, Front and Rear
Parking Camera Yes, Rear
Front Seatbelts 3-pt ELR with pre-tensioner x 2
Rear Seatbelts 3-pt ELR with pre-tensioner x 2,
3-pt ELR x 1
ISOFIX Child Seat Anchor Yes
Other Safety Features Hill Start Assist
Tire Pressure Monitoring
Parking Assistant
Exterior Features
Headlights LED
Fog Lamps Yes, Front and Rear (LED)
Auto Lights Yes
Rain-sensing Wipers Yes
Tailgate Manual
Interior Features
Steering Wheel Adjust Tilt/Telescopic
Steering Wheel Material Leather
Seating Adjustment (driver) Electric, 8-way, w/ Memory
Seating Adjustment (front passenger) Electric, 8-way
Seating Surface Synthetic Leather
Folding Rear Seat Yes, 60/40
Sunroof No
Trip Computer Yes
Convenience Features
Power Steering Yes
Power Door Locks Yes
Power Windows Yes
Power Mirrors Yes, w/ Fold
Rear View Mirror Auto-dimming
Proximity Key Yes
Climate Control Auto, Dual Zone, w/ Rear Vents
Audio System Stereo
USB Type A x 1
USB Type C x 3
Bluetooth
Smartphone Connectivity None
# of Speakers 8
Steering Controls Yes

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