2021 BMW 228i Gran Coupe xDrive – Can’t have it all

2021 BMW 228i Gran Coupe xDrive

2021 BMW 228i xDrive Gran Coupe

Back in the 90s, there weren’t many BMW models available. There were only 3, 5 and 7 series and that was it. Today we have a large selection of sedans, coupes and SUVs. BMW family offers more than 10 different models readily available, and most models have many variances in engine and trim levels. BMW 2 Series is one of them. The Bavarians offer both Gran Coupe and Coupe versions, and you may automatically assume that they are the same car, as they are both Coupes.

The fact that they have completely different platforms. Aside from the overall dimensions, there is a significant difference between the Coupe and Gran Coupe. First of all, Gran Coupe 2 series is, like the X2, a Front Wheel Drive based platform that offers all-wheel drive. This has its own advantages and disadvantages. Let’s see if this is budget BMW is a good fit for you.

Engine and Drivetrain

Don’t let the 228 badge fool you. Unlike the 90s, now the last two letters in the model definition do not necessarily refer to the engine displacement. The 228i comes with a turbocharged 2-litre engine that produces 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. 228 hp may not sound too crazy, but the car feels faster than that, due to the smaller dimensions and overall weight compared to bigger BMW models.

Does it look familiar? This engine is also used in Mini Cooper, which produces coincidentally 228 hp in 228i Gran Coupe

BMW 228i xDrive Gran Coupe shares its platform with Mini Cooper, its corporate cousin, and as a result, the engine is placed horizontally. So mechanically it is a front-wheel biased all-wheel-drive system. Although the system is very fast when it comes to sending the power to the rear wheels, it always prioritizes front wheels at the limit, unlike bigger BMW models. Yeah, that means less driving fun, but better fuel economy in the long run.

Like most other high-end BMWs, 228i Gran Coupe comes with torque converted 8-speed automatic transmission. To be honest, we are a fan of BMW transmissions, as their tuning is probably one of the best almost in every segment. It’s no exception with the 228i xDrive Gran Coupe. You can change the way transmission reacts and shifting speed by choosing different driving modes. For non-M car standards, upshifts are very quick, as well as downshifts when you are not using the paddle shifters. It can be slow from time to time if you manually downshift it. However, this is not a real M car, so it is perfectly fine for daily use.

Exterior and Interior

The 228i Gran Coupe looks very attractive from certain angles, but it’s one of the uglier modern BMWs

This is probably the most subjective part, but I am not a fan of how it looks. Even with the optional M package, black grilles, and bigger wheels, it still doesn’t look good. However, BMW was still able to keep their traditional BMW design inside and outside. Our tester had the M package, which comes with bigger wheels, front bumper with more aggressive design, as well as different rear bumper.

M performance wheels make the car look much better than the base trim

Of course, the M package is not just for looks. Although you don’t get more horsepower, you get the stiffer suspension and much bigger brakes with an M logo. You also get 100% real exhaust tips, which is getting harder to find in any segment. Our tester came with Continental Winter tires and combined with the xDrive All-Wheel Drive system, the car is very confident in snow and ice.

Unlike the front end, the rear design is very unique

Unlike the front end design, the rear end has very unique body lines, that make the car look surprisingly upscale and more premium. Although BMW calls it Gran Coupe, it is technically a sedan, but it looks more like a lift back from the back. Overall from front end to rear, we are not a fan of how it looks, but there are certain things done right, such as real exhaust tips.

When we get inside the 228i, we were not surprised that it has a very similar design that BMW uses almost in every models. There are few important changes, but it still keeps the main design elements. We appreciate the consistency of BMW’s design language, but sometimes it can be boring. Of course, as this is a budget BMW, you don’t get the 7 series quality and craftsmanship. There are much more plastic parts all around the cabin. Especially the front passenger side is too plasticky for German car standards.

Does it also look familiar? BMW is very eager to use the same design for all of its models

BMW 228i Gran Coupe is not the best when it comes to overall passenger accommodation. Granted, you should not buy this car solely based on interior space, but you will have trouble if you try to fit 4 large adults. If you are a small family, I believe you can live with it, but if you have lots of people and items to haul, you should check the BMW X1/X2 lineup. Please find our X2 review here.

Rear space legroom and headroom is not the strongest selling point of the 228i Gran Coupe

Driving Impressions and Features

As soon as you start driving the 228i Gran Coupe, it feels very agile, and unsurprisingly BMW-like driving feeling. Of course, having M performance package helps, and as a result, it has an excellent chassis feedback. Optional M performance package also comes with M brake calipers, which is much bigger than non M version. Braking performance is really impressive and it outpowers the engine easily. Overall driving dynamics feel much like a hot-hatch from a performance standpoint, yet it does not punish you when driving it normally.

M performance package offers sporty bumpers, which makes the car look much more aggressive

Speaking of the engine, you should not expect an overwhelmingly fast vehicle, but it is surprisingly quick. But what’s surprising about this engine is, how smooth it runs. BMW’s 8 speed automatic transmission is a great match for this engine, and having so many gears mean it offers great fuel economy. Our tests show 8.5L / 100 km average consumption, which is not too bad for a turbocharged all-wheel drive vehicle.

228i comes with a digital gauge cluster that is widely used in other BMW models

Despite having big rims and thin sidewalls, the suspension tuning is great, especially for non-adjustable suspension standards. There is little to no body roll when you are cornering, and it is not punishing you when you are driving on harsh surfaces. This was probably the most surprising part about driving the 228i Gran Coupe xDrive. Seat comfort also helps improving the overall comfort level, but the rear legroom space is where you feel this is not a great family vehicle.

Things are not always positive, especially if we are talking about a budget alternative coming from a luxury brand. You should not expect the same level of refinement, and it has more wind & tire noise when you are driving it at highway speeds. You would also hear few creaking noises around the cabin, which gives you the impression that the build quality is not on par with high tier BMW’s.

Like the other newer BMW models, it comes with the latest infotainment system and standard wireless Apple CarPlay

Feature-wise, it gets almost the same infotainment system with upper level BMWs, which works great and there is no input lag. If you are coming from another BMW, you will feel right at home. If not, you may need some time to get used to the infotainment system. Apple CarPlay is now has wireless option and we are surprised that it is available even in entry-level 2 series.

Essential features have physical buttons, and they are also widely used in other BMW models

Like the other BMWs, this one has the same digital gauge cluster, which is easy to read and you can customize it for your needs. Although it is not as customizable as some VW-Audi models, you can see almost all essential features without having to look anywhere else. One feature that was missing is Adaptive Cruise Control with steering assist, which should be standard at this point.

Pricing and Conclusion

If you can live with overall interior space and a slightly less premium feel, it is a great compact sedan with excellent driving dynamics

Unfortunately, you can’t have it all when it comes to the car world. If you want the best riding quality as well as features and luxury, you need to pay the premium. BMW and many other luxury brands offer cheaper models for more mainstream buyers, but they have to cut the corners somewhere to make it happen. BMW marketed 2 Gran Coupe as an entry-level BMW, and you can definitely feel it in many ways. BMW 228i Gran Coupe xDrive is a great car with a below-average price per performance ratio, but it is just not a great BMW.

BMW 228i Gran Coupe starts at $42,500 CAD and with all options, it can go up to $54,000 CAD. Our tester had the Premium Excellence Package, which is an $8,750 extra. Granted, it comes with many extra features such as Heated Steering Wheel, M performance package, Adaptive LED headlights, Premium Audio System and so many other features that we think it’s worth adding it. The price is definitely high for a compact sedan segment, and our choice would be 3 series for the same price, with fewer options. You will be getting a similar level of features, but much more interior space, build quality, and safety features.

Please see the window sticker for details of pricing and specifications

For more details, please visit www.bmw.ca

Article and Photos by Dan Gunay