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ANYTHING BUT ORDINARY

BMW 220I M SPORT COUPÉ

Following in the tracks of the legendary BMW 02, which 56 years ago lit the fuse for the brand’s recent history of sporty two-door models, the BMW 220i M Sport Coupé is a fun, compact tourer with a serious side.

The BMW 2 Series came to be when the Munich-based firm spun off the two-door coupé and convertible of the BMW 1 Series into a separate series in 2014. Although the first generation 2 Series was initially launched as a two-door coupé and convertible, both running on a rear-wheel-drive platform, BMW also tried their luck with a five-seater compact MPV-style car called the 2 Series Active Tourer on a front-wheel-drive platform shared with the MINI Hatch.

While the Active Tourer enjoyed a short run here, the 2 Series family grew in 2020 when the Gran Coupé fastback sedan joined its ranks, followed last year by the second-generation (G42) coupé.

ANYTHING BUT THE USUAL

The 2 Series follows BMW’s new design language – which courted much controversy when it was first revealed – delivering a powerful design in a classic three-box style. Its athletically sculpted surfaces and dynamic lines, says BMW, represent an expression of pure driving pleasure. 

With its three-dimensional surfaces, triangular forms, and diagonal lines, the front end is bold and fresh, and the muscular power dome at the centre of the bonnet signals typical BMW dynamism even at the entry point to the range. The BMW kidney grille is horizontal in design and features vertical air flaps (that stay closed to improve drag) instead of the classical bars – these open electrically when the engine needs to be cooled.

The standard full-LED headlights are inspired by the legendary BMW 02 models, and can be optioned with adaptive LED headlights with BMW Selective Beam non-dazzling high beam assistant, as was fitted to our test unit.

ANYTHING BUT TAME

As the entry point to the BMW 2 Series Coupé line-up, the petrol-powered 220i M Sport is not the most powerful – that accolade goes to the mighty M2 – but it embodies sporting prowess in a concentrated form, with an athletic design and sophisticated chassis and rear-wheel-drive tech from the BMW 4 Series, unlike its front-wheel-drive hatchback sibling.

With BMW’s smooth accelerating 2.0-litre four-cylinder mill mated to a ZF eight-speed auto with paddle-shifters, the 220i sprints to the 100-km/h mark in a claimed 7.5 seconds. Not too tardy in a direct comparison with its class rivals, the Toyota GR86 (6.8 seconds) and Audi A5 40TFSI (7.3 seconds). 

Although heavier than its rivals in this comparison, the 220i never felt burdened by its heft. Instead, with its compact dimensions, precise steering, and a more rigid chassis than its predecessor, the 220i makes the most of its near-perfect 50:50 weight distribution when cornering. 

ANYTHING BUT BARE

As well as noticeable gains in dynamic ability over the previous-gen 2 Series, the 220i also offers a premium cabin experience, as well as cutting-edge technology and connectivity. 

The driver-focused cockpit design and BMW iDrive system on the centre console is an ergonomic triumph, and the standard issue sport seats and Sport leather steering wheel add to an overall engaging driving experience. There are two seats in the rear, although these will be a tight fit for most adults over longer distances. In a boost for versatility, the rear seats can fold in a 40:20:40 configuration to increase the already sizeable 390-litre boot.

Electrically adjustable sport seats (including a memory function on the driver’s side), M Sport seats with integral head restraints (as fitted on the tester), seat heating, and steering wheel heating are available as options. Additional options include a Harman Kardon surround sound system and sunroof (both fitted), while standard specification also includes acoustic glazing for the windscreen, three-zone automatic climate control, and ambient lighting.

LAST WORD

Although considered compact, the 220i is longer and wider than the BMW E36 3 Series. For its R842,590 asking price, you get cutting-edge technology, pinpoint steering and handling, and a satisfying driving experience.

Report by BERNIE HELLBERG JR | Images © BMW SOUTH AFRICA

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