How times have changed. Remember when the BMW 3 Series was strictly a two door coupe? Yes it’s hard to believe that the first ever E21 3 Series was equipped with just two doors.
It was only on the second generation E30 that BMW offered a four door option along with the two door 3 Series Coupe. Eventually the 3 Series Coupe grew bigger and bigger, and if you walk into a BMW showroom today you can’t even buy a new 3 Series Coupe because it has grown to become the 4 Series.
|Name||BMW 220i Sport|
|Engine||1,997 cc 4-Cylinder Turbo|
|Max Power||184 hp @ 5,000 rpm|
|Max Torque||270 Nm @ 1,250 rpm|
If you want a proper small BMW Coupe, the F32 4 Series is not what you can call “small”, and that’s where the 2 Series comes into picture. Now, before you call us insane for suggesting a mini-MPV to satisfy your coupe cravings, the 2 Series we’re talking about is not the F45 Active Tourer (or even the F46 Gran Tourer) but the F22 Coupe. Confused yet? BMW reckons you shouldn’t be.
The F22 2 Series Coupe has nothing to do with the F45/F46 2 Series Tourers, instead it’s related to the F20 1 Series hatchback. The F22 2 Series Coupe is actually the successor to the E82 1 Series Coupe (based off the E88/E87 1 Series hatch), but because of BMW recently just had to “realign” their products names, the 1 Series Coupe is now known as the 2 Series Coupe.
In Malaysia, the F22 2 Series Coupe is only available in a single engine choice, the 220i. Launched together with the F33 4 Series Convertible during the BMW Malaysian Open in 2014, it’s available in two trims, the base 220i and the 220i Sport with added, um, sportiness. We’re testing the latter variant, and it looks like a fun little coupe. But is it really? Let’s find out.
There’s little for BMW to mess with the 2-Series Coupe’s design. The classic front-engined rear-wheel drive layout already set the blueprint for a faultless coupe proportion: long bonnet, cab-rearwards, and a stubby tail. Although from some angle it can look quite dumpy, rather like the “starter pack” among the sleeker BMW coupes higher up in the range. Still, it has the allure of a coupe written all over it.
Compared to the E82 1 Series Coupe it replaced, the Bi-Xenon headlamps with LED corona rings DRL are squintier, making the front look wider and more matured, while the front bumper is aerodynamically shaped with a two-tier bridge in the middle and a couple of air curtain slots next to the fog lamps.
The striking contours on the flanks and the glitzy alloy wheels provide the 220i Coupe some flair, and BMW is also kind enough to give the 2 Series a pair of doors with frameless windows to enhance the coupe sensation.
As we move along round the back, the compressed tail features a couple of compact version of the BMW L-shaped taillights, and a straightforward single tailpipe exit on the left side of the bumper. On the whole, the 220i is not a shouty car, unless if you specify it in Valencia Orange, you can drive past a crowd almost unnoticed.
Aside from the visible badge on the front fenders, the 220i Sport is differentiated from the base 220i via the 17-inch star-spoke alloys and some high-gloss black finish on the grille inserts, mirror caps, and tailpipe. If you’re still not convinced, swing open the door for a further proof that it’s the Sport variant by looking at the sill which clearly writes “BMW Sport”.
F20 1 Series owners will feel at home because it’s essentially the same interior but feels much cosier here. The powered sports seats feel great, the generous side bolsters can be set to hug you like a long lost relative that haven’t seen you in ages, making sure that you don’t budge during spirited driving. Once you’re buckled up in the driver’s seat, the snug cabin cocoons you in place like it was designed specifically around you.
The dash is angled towards the driver just like it should, and there’s no need to stretch because everything falls within your arm’s reach. Controls are clear and uncomplicated, and even the iDrive controller fitted in this car is the basic version that only toggles left and right, and the top part of the controller makes do without the fancy touch surface. Permanently lodged on top of the center panel is a 6.5-inch screen that displays the iDrive menu.
The multifunction sports steering doesn’t look as good as the M-Sport wheel but it does have a luscious chunky rim and shift paddles. Peeping through it you will see couple of retro analogue dials, but the small LCD display underneath might get obscured by the steering wheel boss depending on your seating position.
You’re forbidden to take more than two persons at the back, because the middle seat base is occupied by a plastic tray. Space is tight back there but at least the access is not limited to just contortionists, and a couple of aircond vents at the end of the transmission tunnel prevent the cabin from getting stuffy.
Despite the lack of space, the solid interior is still filled with practical amenities. You will find ISOFIX child seat anchors, a small drop down compartment on the driver’s side of the dashboard, front and rear 12v sockets, some useful netting near the front passenger foot well and behind the front seat backs, and the lined glovebox will accept more than a pair of gloves. Although it might appear that the tapau hooks are located quite high on each side of the B-pillars, we’re pretty sure they’re not intended for hanging your Teh-O ais limau.
Meanwhile, you can throw in 390 litres worth of cargo in the boot, and the boot too is furnished with a 12v outlet, as well as hooks and netting to keep smaller items from being thrown about during your touge session.
Continuing to mess with your head, this 220i is not powered by a turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder lump like the one in the F20 120i. Instead, this 220i relies on a bigger 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo, dishing out 184 hp and 270 Nm of torque. On duty to deliver all the power to the rear wheels is the sublime ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic gearbox with Launch Control.
Although we found that the Launch Control is somewhat gimmicky. It sends off the 220i with a mini burnout but it doesn’t feel any quicker than a normal standing start acceleration apart from the added drama. Supposedly it should help to transport the 220i from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.0 seconds, and if you keep your right foot planted on the fun pedal it will max out at 230 km/h.
Depending on your mood, you can select from Eco Pro, Comfort, Sport, and Sport+ driving modes through the Driving Experience Control switch next to the gearvlever and it will alter the car’s behaviour which involves different engine mapping as well as the sensitivity of the stability control system.
We started off in Eco Pro mode therefore you don’t have to, because who in the right mind would buy a 220i and drive it in Eco Pro? Though if you must know, in Eco Pro mode the 220i will play a humdrum everyday car with its gentle throttle response, and it will gladly assist you to achieve the lowest fuel consumption possible as the excellent eight-speed transmission slurs through each gear with nary a jerk.
However, you will feel the occasional jerk when the engine is fired up after being cut off when you stop at the traffic lights. There’s no escaping the start/stop system if you’re chasing the best fuel economy, you know. After a while I felt like it’s almost unlawful to strangle a good engine in the name of saving petrol, so I prodded the Driving Experience Control switch to Comfort to free it from the eco-choke.
The 220i is well-behaved in general with its pliable ride and the steering is light enough for the daily routine. I even took my parents and my sister out for a dinner and not once the ride felt uncomfortably harsh or jarring.
Because of its compact dimensions, pootling around town is easy, and the unobtrusive pillars make it easy to see out of. You can calmly cruise on the highways too. At the highway speed limit, the engine is barely audible, and the rubber seals around the frameless windows work better than expected to block out wind noise from entering the cabin.
If you want to de-stress you should select the Sport mode and hit the back roads. Instantly you will notice that the steering gets heavier and the throttle becomes livelier while the gear changes are delayed until higher at the rev range. The soundtrack generated is sporty enough even if it doesn’t burp on the upshifts like a Golf GTI, and despite being pushed, the 2.0-litre TwinPower Turbo mill is relatively lag-free and revs cleanly to the red line like a normally aspirated engine.
The steering is exactly like how you would imagine it to be, sharp and feelsome. With no obvious bodyroll and plenty of poise, it’s a joy chucking the 220i in tight corners and the chassis feels right at home on the winding roads. The brakes also work fine with positive pedal feel and they resist fade relatively well.
Another jab at the Driving Experience Control switch will bring the car into Sport+ mode, which grants you more fun under the vigilant eyes of the German nanny. With 270 Nm of torque it’s rather easy to break the traction from the rear wheels, but in Sport+ the German nanny named DSC will give you the liberty for a little slip before she steps in to thwart you from dispatching the diminutive coupe into the ditch.
However if you’re confident that you have the drifting skills of Tengku Djan, you can give the nanny a break by switching off the DSC completely and only then you can indulge in some tomfoolery with the 220i. Like a jubilant puppy wagging its tail, the 220i is happy to swing its rear end when you introduce it to some twisty blacktop.
Nevertheless, to be on the safe side, the Sport+ gives the best compromise and it should be enough to grant most people plenty of amusement behind the wheel. Definitely the tradeoff is you won’t be able to match the claimed 6.0 litres per 100 km fuel consumption when in Sport+ (yours truly scored 11.9 l/ 100km), but I personally believe that it’s justifiable by the amount of grin-inducing moments you get from it.
IS THIS CAR FOR YOU?
Currently, the 220i Coupe is the only rear-wheel drive compact continental coupe on sale here, so it’s your only choice if you must have a continental badge on your compact rear-wheel drive coupe. As a weekend plaything the 220i Coupe is certainly worth a look especially if carving up and down the mountain roads is one of your favourite pastimes.
Undoubtedly, the 220i Coupe works best as a second car but it can also serve as your main and only car as long as you don’t ferry more than one passenger on a daily basis. For that you’re better off with a 320i and that will also save you some cash for a lovely holiday.
There’s not many compact coupe on sale in Malaysia, the Merc CLA doesn’t come in 2-door guise and Toyota has pulled the 86 out of their Malaysian lineup. Thankfully, Audi has the Mk3 TT.
Although the TT is a front-wheel drive coupe, it’s much more powerful and much more compact. The 2.0 TFSI produces 46 hp and 100 Nm more than the 2.0 turbo in the 220i, enabling the TT to accelerate quicker off the line. The TT also has a higher top speed than the 220i.
Tech geeks will love the TT’s stylish interior that features Audi virtual cockpit but it won’t be able to provide as much room like in the 220i, particularly at the back and the boot space is also down by 85 litres.
|BMW 220i Sport||Audi TT 2.0 TFSI|
|Type||4-cylinder turbocharged petrol||4-cylinder turbocharged petrol|
|Type||Electrical power-assisted||Electrical power-assisted|
|Transmission||8-Speed automatic||6-Speed dual-clutch automatic|
|Type (Front / Rear)||MacPherson struts / Multi link||MacPherson struts / Multi link|
|Front||Ventilated disc||Ventilated disc|
|TYRE & WHEELS|
|Tyres||225/45 R17||245/40 R18|
|DIMENSIONS & WEIGHTS|
|Max Kerb weight||kg||1,440||1,335|
|Luggage Capacity (VDA)||L||390||305|
|Tank Capacity||52 litres||50 litres|
|Consumption||6.0 L/100 km||6.3 L/100 km|
|0 – 100km/h||sec||7.0||5.9|
WILL I BUY IT?
When the symbol of a performance BMW is marked by the letter M, the 220i Coupe here is the underdog in the BMW’s product range in Malaysia. For all that I found, the 220i Coupe is one of those “just right” cars because the size and the amount of power it offers is just about right, yet effortlessly entertaining.
On top of that, the 220i Coupe is not too flashy and doesn’t scream for attention. Only the owner knows that it’s actually pretty darn enjoyable to be behind the wheel. I didn’t expect to be so smitten by the 220i and couldn’t for a second ask for more. In fact I’d swing by the showroom right now to place an order if not for the glaring fact that the numbers on my current paycheque won’t allow me to do that.