The BMW 230i Coupe fills the gap between the entry-level 220i and the more ballistic M240i xDrive, which are what I call the “regular” 2 Series Coupe models.
There’s the new M2 due imminently, but it’s going to be a different beast altogether.
So, is this gap-filling model the best-go for a buyer after a sporty luxury coupe? There’s a lot in its favour, including lower-than-you’d-think pricing, a more practical cabin than would be expected of a car like this, and the fact it doesn’t really have any direct rivals.
There are some things that aren’t as peachy about it, but I’ll cover them off below.
As stated, the BMW 230i is the gap-filler.
It’s a smidge more expensive than the base 220i, but well and truly justifies the extra expense by way of more power and torque which makes it faster by a decent margin, and it has more standard equipment too.
It’s easy to see why it could be the sweet spot for a whole bunch of buyers. Even with on-road costs and a few options added, you’re looking at well under $100k for a four-seater with 400Nm and a stack of standard kit (details below).
Now, on the topic of optional extras, this car had a few boxes ticked. Firstly, the Enhancement Package ($3900), which includes 19-inch wheels, a sunroof, and metallic paint. Then there was the Comfort Package ($1400), which includes steering wheel heating, front seat heating, and front seat electric lumbar adjustment.
The colour, if you’re wondering, is Portimao Blue Metallic. Other options (individually priced at $1308) include Black Sapphire Metallic, Brooklyn Grey Metallic, Thundernight Metallic (Purple), Melbourne Red Metallic, and Mineral White Metallic. Alpine White Solid is the only no-cost option.
2023 BMW 2 Series Coupe pricing:
- BMW 220i Coupe: $67,700
- BMW 230i Coupe: $73,200
- BMW M240i xDrive Coupe: $94,900
- BMW M2 Coupe: $119,900
Prices exclude on-road costs
I’d just spent a week in the latest BMW X1 when I switched into the 230i, and I was pretty surprised at how dramatically different the new-gen models can be.
The 2 Series already feels a bit outdated inside, thanks to the X1’s stylish and screen-centric cabin – check out James’s review of the sDrive18i to see what I’m talking about.
But that’s not to say that I didn’t like the interior of the 2er Coupe. In fact, in a few ways I actually preferred it.
That’s because it is more traditionally aligned to what we’ve come to expect from BMW. Horizontal screens, simple controls, and a bunch of high-quality buttons and dials with a technical German feel to them.
I’d have the hard air-con controls and stereo buttons and knobs in a heartbeat over touch controls, so this is a winning combo for me. But, I know there are people who love the big-screen factor, and this one – despite having a 10.25-inch touch display – isn’t as outlandishly modern as some others out there.
I had no issues with the screen – wireless Apple CarPlay worked a treat – and the digital driver’s cluster (a 12.3-inch display) was also a cinch to get to grips with.
The storage on offer in the car is good, with a pair of cup holders, a covered centre console bin, a storage cubby with a wireless phone charger in front of the shifter, and decent door pockets with bottle holders, too.
And it looks and feels the part for a luxury sports coupe too – the materials are lovely, with the microsuede (Alcantara) and leatherette (Sensatec) seat trim offering a primo feel, as well as the classy M blue stitching through the cabin.
The 2 Series Coupe is a four-seater – where a middle seat would traditionally be is just a blank storage zone, though it does have a 40:20:40 rear split-folding mechanism, so you could drop the middle down to store skis, perhaps. If you need five seats and insist on a 2 Series, the Gran Coupe is your car.
While it’s not really a car that you’ll want to take four adults in all the time, you can fit smaller occupants in the back. I managed to fit in (I’m 182cm or 6’0) and it was okay, but I wouldn’t want to be there for more than a few minutes if someone my size was driving.
Thankfully there are clever levers that electronically slide the seat forward to allow easy-ish access. But trust me, fitting a child seat in the back is a challenge – the door openings and folded seat access still made it a bit of a bother.
If you do want to fit a kid seat, there are ISOFIX points in both seats, and top-tether points as well.
Also worth noting – standard gear in the 230i includes climate control for the back row seats, a couple of USB charge ports, and directional air vents. There are some storage cubbies in there, too.
Boot space is quite good, too. BMW claims the cargo capacity is 390 litres, which is bigger than plenty of small hatchbacks on the market (a VW Golf has a 374-litre boot, for instance).
Part of the reason the Bimmer’s backside is so big, though, is because it doesn’t house a spare wheel. Like most of the BMW range, the 2 Series rides on run-flat tyres.
If you need to get more luggage load space, there are remote release levers in the boot area that you can pull to fold down the rear seats. BMW doesn’t offer a volume figure for that configuration, however.
The 230i grade – as with the 220i below it – runs a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine.
But it gets a lot more than just 10 extra whatever the badge numbers are supposed to mean these days.
There’s a whopping 190kW of power (6500rpm) and 400Nm of torque (1550-4400rpm) on offer, representing a big 41 per cent power and 33 per cent torque improvement over the entry grade.
It’s rear-wheel drive and has an eight-speed automatic transmission as standard – paddle shifters are included, too.
The 0-100km/h claim for the 230i Coupe is a speedy 5.8 seconds – almost two full seconds faster than the 220i (7.5s), but not nearly as quick as the speedy all-wheel-drive M240i xDrive (285kW/500Nm turbo inline six, 0-100 in 4.3s).
Whether this car is the right variant for you will depend on whether you are looking for a luxury coupe that happens to be sporty, or a sporty coupe that happens to be from a luxury brand.
That’s because the ride comfort is not as good as it could be, due to a firm suspension setup in combination with big wheels and low-profile tyres that make for an at times unpleasant experience.
And look, I understand that if you are looking for a sports coupe, some element of ride firmness is to be expected. But the choppy nature of the suspension in this car was a little overbearing, and as a daily cruiser, it took away from the drive experience.
I haven’t driven a 2 Series on the standard 18-inch wheels, nor have I driven one with adaptive suspension, but I do expect – having experienced the adaptive chassis system in other BMW models – that it would make a tremendous difference. It would be worth investing in… if it were offered here.
The 230i isn’t available with adaptive suspension, even as an option. You’ll have to shell out for the significantly more expensive M240i xDrive, which gets that gear standard.
The suspension might be a bit much for city dwellers daily-driving this car, but if you’re buying it as a Sunday car or you often take the road less travelled just for the heck of it, then you can really exploit the firmness of the chassis setup.
It has immense handling capabilities, and holds a line through corners beautifully thanks to that firm suspension.
The steering is very good, with a nice amount of directness to the action as you apply lock. It can be a tad too direct on-centre at times, and I found myself adjusting the steering a little bit more than I would like on straight-ish roads.
So what about the powertrain then? Well, like I said, I reckon this could be the sweet spot because it is as punchy, powerful and quick as most people are ever going to need without being overbearing, let alone intimidatingly potent.
It strikes the balance for someone who is more after a sporty car to drive, rather than a balls-out sports car. I think that’s a beautiful distinction, as it means that it will appeal more broadly than something like an M2.
There’s a sweet revving nature to the engine, and it builds speed admirably. The eight-speed automatic transmission is a peach; not once did I find that it was doing the wrong thing, and it offers quick and clever shifts regardless of whether you are just driving around town under light throttle, or pushing hard.
Of course, it’s at its most assertive in the Sport mode, and there’s a Sport Plus mode for even more aggression as well as an Individual mode that allows you to change the engine, transmission and steering characteristics.
The standard equipment list for the 230i Coupe is pretty comprehensive, and it adds some thoughtful additions over the base model – which frankly, is equipped like a base model.
230i Coupe adds over 220i Coupe:
- Keyless entry, start
- Digital key
- Electric front seat adjustment
- Adaptive LED headlights
- Auto high-beam
- Adaptive cruise control with stop/go
- HiFi Loudspeaker sound system
- M Sport brakes
220i Coupe highlights:
- M Sport Package
- M Sport steering wheel
- Sport seats
- Alcantara/leatherette trim
- M Sport suspension
- Sport steering
- Head-up display*
- 12.3-inch instrument binnacle
- 10.25-inch touchscreen infotainment system
- DAB+ digital radio
- Wireless Apple CarPlay, Android Auto
- Satellite navigation
- Parking Assistant
- Parking sensors
- Reversing camera
- Auto park assist
- Reversing assistant
- 6-speaker sound system
- Wireless phone charging
- Ambient lighting
- LED headlights, tail lights
The 2 Series Coupe line-up was awarded a four-star Euro NCAP rating in 2022, though it’s unrated by ANCAP.
The 2er Coupe lost points for performing “marginally” when its AEB system came to detecting cyclists, and also due to “almost entirely poor” protection of a pedestrian’s pelvis in simulated pedestrian strike testing.
But that doesn’t mean it’s unsafe, more broadly. It still has a laundry list of standard safety technology and equipment fitted as expected of a new BMW.
Standard safety features include:
- AEB incl. Pedestrian, Cyclist detection
- Forward collision warning
- Cruise control incl. braking function
- Lane departure warning
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Traffic sign recognition
- Proactive rear collision protection
- Parking Assistant
- Front, rear parking sensors
- Reversing camera
- Automatic Parking Assistant
- Reversing Assistant
- 6 airbags
The 2er Coupe doesn’t offer junction collision avoidance assistance, nor does it have rear AEB for pedestrians.
BMW offers a five-year, unlimited-kilometre warranty, which is bang on the average for all the luxury brands and mainstream makers alike.
There are also service plans to choose from, with the most popular being a five-year/80,000km prepaid service pack, which costs $2050.
There are no regular service intervals – the brand offers what it calls “condition based servicing”, where the car’s computer and sensors tell you when maintenance is needed.
But, bank on taking it in every 12 months or so anyway, which means an average annual maintenance cost of $410 before consumables. BMW also includes three years of roadside assistance at no cost.
As for fuel use, the official combined cycle figure for the 230i Coupe is 6.4 litres per 100 kilometres, which is going to be hard to achieve in real-world driving, based on what I saw over a week with the car.
During my testing – which included highway, freeway, urban and suburban drives – I saw a return of 8.1L/100km.
If you can overlook the hard ride and lower-than-hoped-for safety rating, this is a terrific option for buyers in the market for a sporty European coupe.
The 230i seems like a beauty of a balancing act between value and performance.
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MORE: Everything BMW 2 Series