Pulling the BMW 218i Gran Coupe sedan with front wheels
The new 1 Series BMW didn’t reach us. The sedan remains the property of China and Mexico. After the Active Tourer compact van left the market, the only passenger car that represents the UKL2 front-wheel drive platform is the 2 Series Gran Coupe, along with Mini cars. The 14,7 feet (4.5 m) long 218i Online Edition sedan with frameless doors pleases with its starting price. We have just such a car without optional tinsel — the most affordable BMW passenger car.
The Gran Coupe doesn’t look cheap even on basic 17-inch wheels. The body is assembled neatly; there is a real exhaust pipe under the rear bumper. The shocking design is more for an amateur, as usual with modern BMWs. And moreover, an ultrashort sloping trunk and a high humped hood shift attention to the front axle. This is the last one that is driven with a transversely positioned three-cylinder 140-horsepower turbo engine, paired with a seven-speed direct-shift robotised gearbox.
It’s not really convenient for a big guy like me to get into the front seat – the middle pillar is slightly shifted forward. The style is unfamiliar, but you recognize the grip of the lateral support immediately. Moreover, there is even an electric adjustment of cushions on the back. A fixed lumbar support is weak. Steering wheel, pedals with floor accelerator, key blocks, non-fixed gearbox selector — everything is unified with older BMWs. And a basic dashboard with needles hidden under dark glass is even better! We liked them so much!
There are no special savings in materials. Even the rear door panels are trimmed with soft plastic. But around the instrument panel, it has an uncharacteristic for BMW, primitive texture in the form of diamonds, and the pattern on the decorative moldings is associated with medium-level cars. A driver is given a clear understanding that the Gran Coupe occupies the lowest step in the model range. Don’t expect much, they say.. I try to find a start button on the tunnel, but it is made flat, and it is difficult to do it blindly.
Cold start of the motor is accompanied by a strong shake. When the start/stop system is triggered, there is also a half-second “shaker”. Although at idle, and on the move, the engine no longer reminds of its three-cylinder unbalance. Traction (up to 230 N•m in Overboost mode in gears above the third) is enough in urban traffic, but end-to-end on the highway. One can’t complain about the accuracy of acceleration control: there are even jerks in the transmission when you alternately play with gas. There is a slight hitch only while standing start. The engine sounds serious, weighty, real: the exhaust mumbles in a parking lot and unobtrusively growls at speed.
The steering wheel seems treacherously light by BMW standards, but it’s easier to rotate it in all 2.75 turns from one end position to the other when parking. Reactions to the steering wheel movements are accurate and clear. There are almost no rolls. Even power steering during acceleration is minimal. You can drive safely with pleasure. Only wheel tracks or a road bank cause a noticeable withdrawal from a trajectory. As if there are not 17-inch Bridgestone Turanza T005S with a width of 8,8 inches (225 mm), but some wide rollers here. The rear axle is also unstable in a bumpy turn.
An early squeak in a tense turn reveals narrow tires. The front axle almost always whistles. In order to load the rear wheels, in order for a passive rear steer of the multi-link system to work and a turnability to become more neutral, the arc must be long, and the speed must be very high.
In all other cases, the Gran Coupe behaves purely in a front-wheel-drive way. Fast driving on a wet road generally doesn’t imply any other reaction to overcoming the adhesion properties, except for skidding. Adherents of classic BMW driving values should pay attention to the 2 Series rear-wheel drive coupe that remains on sale, even if it is more expensive.
For those who drive calmly, the Gran Coupe still doesn’t offer much comfort. Tires make more than noticeable noise, especially at urban speeds, fading into the background only at 80-90 miles/h. There are also high-frequency vibrations on the steering wheel. Suspension with passive shock absorbers behaves ambiguously. It shakes on a short wave and meets pits with sharp edges with a rumble, harshly — however gently rolls over speed bumps. I remember also criticizing the 8 Series Gran Coupe for the lack of driving character integrity. Is this a new corporate identity, or what?
The practicality of the sedan is also questionable. The back is cramped: when entering the car, your legs barely fit into the narrow gap between the pillar and the seat; the ceiling presses; a tall passenger has no space for knees. The trunk seems to be of the correct shape, and the back of the rear seat is folded in as many as three parts (40:20:40) without extra charge. However, the volume of 430 liters is clearly stated taking into account the underfloor. For real life, the distance between its lower and upper edges is not enough. The possibility to rearrange the floor below is not provided. There is no spare wheel at all.
Petrolhead enthusiasts are contraindicated to think about the BMW 218i Gran Coupe. And fans, especially female fans, of branded things need to be prepared for not the highest level of comfort. At the same time, according to the totality of qualities, it is not a pity to give money for the 218i Gran Coupe. The softer and most likely quiet base 3 Series is decently more expensive. And the 1 Series and the 2 Series full-fledged sedans can do without the Gran Coupe’s emphasis on sports in the chassis settings. My professional intuition tells me that the character of these cars should be more harmonious.
This is a translation. You can read the original here: https://www.drive.ru/test-drive/bmw/5eeb30e1ec05c4f53500018e.html