2022 BMW 2 Series Coupe Test Drive and Review: Raw in Appearance, Adorable in Purpose

Is this 2 Series appealing enough behind the wheel to ignore its controversial styling?

Capital One

Review QuickTakes:

If you need proof that BMW hasn't forgotten its roots, look no further than the redesigned 2022 BMW 2 Series Coupe. The small, rear-drive, 2+2 coupe is about nothing more than driving pleasure, a fitting descendant of the original 2002 that put BMW on the map with American driving enthusiasts back in the 1960s.

Some people think modern BMWs have too much technology for their own good, and they're not as visceral to drive as they once were. Depending on the BMW, I don't entirely disagree. But name a car that is just as communicative today as before electric steering, stability control, and other electronic driving aids became the norm. Even the vaunted Mazda MX-5 Miata isn't as raw to drive as the original.

Generally speaking, I think BMW still builds some of the best driver's cars on the planet — relative to their contemporary rivals. They're terrific fun (even the SUVs), and the new 2 Coupe certainly qualifies as such, even if you can't get a manual transmission in one. With a relatively affordable base price of less than $40,000, a torquey turbocharged engine, rear-wheel drive, and room for someone else who looks forward to long drives on twisting roads, the small, intimate, and reasonably light 2022 BMW 2 Series Coupe is an appealing choice for people who love to drive.

For this 2022 BMW 2 Series Coupe review, I test-drove the 230i in Southern California. It came with extra-cost paint, the M Sport package, the Premium package, and a Harman Kardon premium sound system. These upgrades brought the manufacturer's suggested retail price (MSRP) to $44,670, including the $995 destination charge. BMW provided the vehicle for this 2 Series Coupe review.

2022 BMW 230i Coupe, red, side viewChristian Wardlaw

2022 BMW 2 Series Coupe Review: The Design

Lately, BMW's design has taken a turn for the weird. That said, the look is certainly distinctive.

My test vehicle had the M Sport package, which includes enormous, dark triangles anchoring each end of the front bumper, a dark gray lower body aerodynamic kit, a lip spoiler on the trunk lid, and a reworked rear bumper with dramatic red reflector incisions and a diffuser panel that wouldn't look out of place on an SUV. The 19-inch M double-spoke bi-color wheels are sensational, and the test car's red brake calipers beautifully match the body's Melbourne Red paint.

Open the driver's door, and you'll find an interior designed to current BMW standards and themes. From the quality materials and overall layout to the displays, components, and switchgear, the new 2 offers a familiar environment to anyone acquainted with the automaker's latest models. Note, however, that this changes a bit for 2023 when the 2 Series Coupe adds the new BMW Curved Display instrumentation and infotainment system with next-generation iDrive 8 software.

By contrast, the 2022 model-year test car's Live Cockpit Professional system equips the vehicle with a 12.3-inch digital instrumentation panel living under a traditional gauge binnacle and a 10.25-inch iDrive 7 touchscreen display mounted over the center air vents and physical climate controls.

This arrangement is preferable to me because it doesn't look like two iPads taped together and glued to the dashboard (like the BMW Curved Display does). For the most part, I find the outgoing tech easy to program and use, too, especially because the BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant is so agreeable, responsive, and accurate.

2022 BMW 2 Series Coupe back seatChristian Wardlaw

You won't find space to spread out inside a BMW 2 Series, but the power-adjustable front sport seats are comfortable and supportive. The standard SensaTec artificial leather is close enough to the real thing that you might not notice, and I appreciated the manual thigh-support bolsters. Exiting the 2 Series is tricky, though, because the car sits so low to the ground.

Amusingly, the 2 Series has a three-zone climate control system with a rear control panel. That's funny because even people of average height might struggle to get comfortable in the back seat. I crammed my 6-foot self in there, burying my head into the ceiling. However, the seat itself is comfortable, and there is plenty of foot space under the front chairs. While headroom is lacking, legroom is adequate if the driver and front passenger are willing to slide forward a bit. So, kids can ride in this location on shorter trips.

BMW provides just enough storage to make the 2 Series practical. Both door panels contain sizable bins with cup/bottle holders, a covered area forward of the transmission shifter includes a wireless charging pad, and the center console and glove compartment are reasonably accommodating. A shallow tray also separates the outboard rear seats, BMW realizing nobody in their right mind would try to put three people in the back of a 2 Series Coupe.

The trunk measures 10 cubic feet, which is decent for this type of car. You can easily stow two full-size suitcases, a couple of backpacks, and smaller duffels in the 2 Series Coupe's cargo area, making it a legitimate long-distance road-tripper for two people.

2022 BMW 2 Series Coupe interior, dashboardChristian Wardlaw

2022 BMW 2 Series Coupe Review: The Technology

According to BMW, the 2 Series comes with standard analog gauges and an 8.8-inch touchscreen infotainment system running a seventh-generation version of iDrive. I would have liked to see this in the test car because I miss those old-school dials and needles. Instead, the evaluation model came with BMW Live Cockpit Professional, which equips the car with a 12.3-inch instrumentation panel and a larger 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen.

BMW is offering this arrangement for one year only. The 2023 BMW 2 Series Coupe adds iDrive 8 and two new screens that live side by side under a single piece of curved, rectangular glass. Undoubtedly, the BMW Curved Display is technologically advanced, but it looks somewhat out of place in the 2 Series Coupe's sporty and intimate cabin.

The iDrive 7 system in the test vehicle came with navigation, wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Amazon Alexa, SiriusXM 360L satellite radio (with a complimentary one-year subscription), access to a Wi-Fi hotspot, and numerous cloud-based services.

2022 BMW 2 Series Coupe infotainment systemChristian Wardlaw

You can interact with iDrive 7 using physical controls on the dashboard, center console, steering wheel, or via the center touchscreen. The system also comes with a BMW Intelligent Personal Assistant that allows you to perform various functions using naturally spoken voice commands.

To wake the assistant, you don't need to push a button. Instead, just say, "Hey, BMW." Then, follow that up with a command. I tested the system using the commands I use in every car, and iDrive 7 passed the testing with flying colors. The assistant even directed me to SiriusXM "The Joint" when I said: "Hey BMW, I want to listen to reggae music." Speaking of music, the test car's optional 14-speaker Harman Kardon premium audio system sounded fantastic and struck me as well worth the cost of the upgrade.

Regarding safety features and driving assistance systems, the 2 Series Coupe includes standard forward-collision warning with pedestrian and cyclist detection, automatic emergency braking, lane-departure warning, lane-keeping assist, an active blind-spot monitoring system, and rear cross-traffic alert. Adaptive cruise control is optional, and the test car did not have it.

During a week spent driving the 2 Series Coupe, the driving assistance systems rarely produced a false warning. Occasionally, the lane-departure warning system would issue an unwarranted vibration through the steering wheel, but this was rare. Better yet, the lane-keeping assist seemed to understand the difference between intentional and accidental lane marker crossings, stepping in decisively to correct the latter while usually allowing the former.

2022 BMW 230i Coupe engineChristian Wardlaw

2022 BMW 2 Series Coupe Review: The Drive

For 2022 there are two versions of the 2 Series. The entry-level model is the 230i, and the performance model is the M240i xDrive. My test vehicle was a 230i equipped with the M Sport package, which adds a few critical goodies to the car, including a sport suspension and upgraded steering.

A turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine is standard in the 230i, generating a healthy 255 horsepower between 5,000 rpm and 6,500 rpm and 295 pound-feet of torque between 1,550 rpm and 4,400 rpm. In other words, the engine makes maximum power or maximum torque across most of its rev range. BMW claims the four-cylinder accelerates the 230i to 60 mph in 5.5 seconds.

The M240i xDrive Coupe has a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder engine producing 382 horsepower from 5,800 rpm to 6,500 rpm and 369 lb-ft of torque from 1,800 rpm to 5,000 rpm. Unsurprisingly, this substantial infusion of power and torque results in a 4.1-second run to 60 mph, according to BMW.

2022 BMW 230i Coupe, red, rear quarter rightChristian Wardlaw

Both 2 Series models employ an eight-speed automatic transmission with a Sport mode, launch control, and paddle shifters. For 2022, the 230i comes only with rear-wheel drive. However, BMW's xDrive all-wheel-drive (a rear-biased drivetrain that powers only the rear wheels until extra traction is necessary) is available for this model in 2023. The 2022 BMW M240i comes only with xDrive, but in 2023 is offered in a rear-drive variant. The xDrive system adds $2,000 to the price of the 2023 model.

Compared with the old 2 Series, BMW says the new 2's "agility, steering precision, and cornering dynamics … are significantly improved over the predecessor model." Contributing factors include wider front and rear tracks, 18-inch or 19-inch wheels and tires, increased torsional rigidity, and a redesigned suspension with reduced unsprung mass. Additionally, all but the base 230i Sport Line models have a sharp, responsive Variable Sport steering system.

2022 BMW 230i Coupe, red, rear quarter viewChristian Wardlaw

Though the 230i isn't the most potent version of the 2 Series, it supplies plenty of acceleration, an appealing and engaging engine and exhaust note, and a thrilling driving character. Drivers can switch between Sport, Comfort, and Eco Pro driving modes, and each has its time and place.

I typically run my evaluation loop in whatever is closest to Normal mode, switching to Sport mode for mountain driving. So, I started off in Comfort mode. The problem with Comfort mode is that you expect a car like this to behave in a certain way, and the 2 Series isn't satisfying to drive thusly calibrated. It didn't take long for me to switch to Sport mode, which produced powertrain response and steering feel that matched my expectations for the car.

However, this action, in combination with joyful manual shifting across much of the Santa Monica Mountains near Los Angeles, took a heavy toll on fuel economy. According to the EPA, a 230i should get 29 mpg in combined driving. Unfortunately, my result amounted to a paltry 23.6 mpg. But I sure did have a good time.

2022 BMW 2 Series Coupe cargo spaceChristian Wardlaw

In town, the 230i M Sport's ride is firm, and while the stout brakes provide impressive response and remarkable resistance to fade, they're also a little sticky in stop-and-go traffic, making it harder to drive the 2 Series smoothly.

Head out on the highway, and you can use Comfort or Eco Pro modes for longer-distance cruising. The car remains firm, but not uncomfortably so, and it's not particularly loud inside concerning wind, road, or engine noise. Still, a 2 Series cannot provide a level of serenity on par with a 5 Series or a 7 Series.

The 2 Series Coupe shines brightest on a twisty road, especially one that you know like the lines on your face. It is a cliché to describe a great driver's car as one that becomes an extension of your body and mind, almost telepathically reacting to your thought processes and inputs, but that's what the 230i felt like to me on the mountain and canyon roads I've been driving for decades.

2022 BMW 2 Series Coupe safety featuresChristian Wardlaw

Would it feel the same way on a track, a road I'd never traveled before, or driven back-to-back with some other vehicle that offers even more power, sharper reflexes, and greater limits? Perhaps not. All I can tell you is that I thoroughly enjoyed my time behind the 230i M Sport's perfectly sized and shaped steering wheel. And with a car like this, that's all that matters.

There are, however, a couple of imperfect 230i character traits. Despite the M Sport package's sport-tuned suspension, the 230i test car exhibited unexpected body motions on undulating pavement. Undoubtedly, the M240i's Adaptive M suspension solves that.

Also, when accelerating hard from a standing or rolling start, there is a delay before the 230i begins to hustle. Launch control solves this, but in situations where it is impractical to use this function, you're momentarily left wanting. Again, I suspect the more powerful M240i is more eager to giddy up from a standstill.

2022 BMW 230i Coupe, red, front quarter rightChristian Wardlaw

Is the 2022 BMW 2 Series Coupe a Good Car?

While the 2 Series Coupe's styling represents an acquired taste, this entry-level BMW is otherwise a good choice for an affordable, fun, luxury-oriented coupe. Naturally, it's not quite as refined as a BMW 4 Series, but it has an appealingly raw edge that lovers of small, fun cars will both appreciate and adore.

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Christian Wardlaw
My first word was “car.” That’s what I’m told, anyway. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with them. The design. The engineering. The performance. And the purpose. I’m a car enthusiast who loves to drive, but I’m also most interested in the cars, trucks, and SUVs that people actually buy. Anybody can tell you that a sports car is fast. What you need to know is whether or not you should buy that new SUV, and why. My life purpose is to help you make that decision.