- Good on fuel
- Torquey engine
- Stylish design
- Petrol engines sound better
- Rear seats are cramped
Having been hugely impressed by the range-topping 2 Series M235i Convertible, we hopped into the slightly less glamorous, but far more economical 220d to give it a thorough once-over.
Convertibles are meant to signify being care-free and young at heart, so does a more practical, diesel-engined slant kill the fun? We took to the beautiful roads of Hampshire to find out.
“It’s fairly grown-up-looking, so people may mistake it for a larger 3 Series, which is no bad thing.” Anyone who dislikes the shape of the new 2 Series Convertible or Coupe clearly has eyesight problems. It’s a handsome car, and clearly better looking than the slightly divisive 1 Series. New additions like the L-shaped rear lights look fantastic, while their width makes the car look wider, and thus more sporty, than it is.
Meanwhile the sleeker front headlights give more gravitas to the bonnet, which has meaty lines and is as long as a runway. The optional M bodykit definitely helps grab your attention, but you can get away without it.
Compared with its 1 Series predecessor, the 2 Series is 72mm longer and 26mm wider. The front and rear track are 41 and 43mm wider, respectively, while the wheelbase is 30mm longer. It’s fairly grown-up-looking, so people may mistake it for a larger 3 Series, which is no bad thing.
The fabric roof is now better at keeping out road noise, resulting in a 4db reduction in cabin noise. In practice, it was quiet and refined with the roof in place, while wind noise in the front of the passenger compartment was unintrusive with the roof down. Opening and closing the roof takes 19 seconds, and you can open or close it at up to 30mph.
“Boot space is on par with a Ford Focus hatchback.”Boot volume is perhaps least of your concerns if buying a convertible, but luggage space still matters. Up to 280 litres worth of stuff can be put in with the roof down (an improvement of 20 litres) and 335 litres with it in place (up 30 litres), which is on par with a Ford Focus hatchback.
Ditch the passengers and you can fold down the optional split-folding rear seats (£170), creating more space for luggage or carriage of longer items like Ikea flatpacks.
Legroom could be better in the back, but on a sunny day we doubt anyone will really complain unless they are way above 6ft tall. Headroom is better, as is visibility, thanks to the relatively large rear windows and rear windscreen.
Performance & handling
“0-62mph takes 7.5 seconds, while its top speed of 140mph is quick enough to help you lose your license.”The idea of a diesel convertible may not sound particularly glamorous, but such vehicles are actually more common than you might think. Sensible, too, given the fuel bills endured by petrol convertible owners.
The diesel engine is grumbly and in no way mistakable for a petrol like some of the bigger, twin-turbo diesels in the BMW range, but the pace the 2.0-litre offers is excellent. 0-62mph takes 7.5 seconds, while its top speed of 140mph is quick enough to help you lose your license in most countries.
It offers hefty torque of 400Nm, so it’s eager to speed up in almost any gear at any speed.
Handling is as commendable as you would expect from a BMW, so if you do fancy throwing it about you won’t be disappointed; it’s agile, grips well and has great body control. Ride quality is good, too, as it soaks up bumps well at low speed, particularly in the softest ‘Comfort’ setting on the optional M Sport adaptive suspension (£750).
Economy & environment
Diesels generally offer better economy than their petrol counterparts. This is certainly true for the 220d, which offers a claimed 60.1mpg and CO2 emissions of 124g/km – a significant improvement on the bottom of the range 220i petrol.
The optional Sport automatic actually improves economy to 64.2mpg and decreases CO2 to 116g/km, while reducing the 0-62mph time to 7.4 seconds, but we certainly enjoyed the manual gearbox, which provides a more involving drive.
Even with the Sport automatic, the Audi A3 is better on fuel. The 150PS TDI with a six-speed manual gets a claimed 67.3mpg while CO2 emissions are 110g/km.
Equipment & value
The BMW 2 Series’ standard spec list includes keyless go, 18-inch alloy wheels, Sport steering wheel with multi-function controls, Sport seats and run-flat tyres.
There’s no cruise control, no park distance control and the Professional navigation system comes part of a £1,890 package.
Adaptive M Sport suspension, which can adjust the ride quality, is £750 extra. Then there’s £260 for a wind deflector, £230 for lumbar support for the front seats, £180 for the high-gloss exterior trim and £1,100 for the visibility package, which includes Xenon headlights, High-beam assist and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.
You can live without most of these extras, but many are actually rather useful and so you may find a £30,000 car soon becomes £40,150.02, like our test car.
The BMW 2 Series is fabulous in many respects. Not only does it offer you exciting wind-in-your-hair motoring, it’s also fabulous to look at, rapid in a straight line and handles well. The fact it has a relatively refined diesel engine means you will be able to bask in those three days of glorious British sun without worrying about crazy fuel and road tax bills.
The more aggressive M235i convertible is a better car in most respects (unsurprisingly given the price) but the more laid back nature of the 220d lends itself well to convertible cruising at wig-friendly speeds. Don’t be put off the fact it’s a diesel – the 220d drop top is definitely worth investing in.
|Acceleration||0 to 62mph in 7.5 seconds|
|Emissions||124g/km (116g/km for automatic)|
|Economy||60.1mpg (64.2mpg for automatic)|