Most consumers in India equate size with prestige, luxury and value. Indeed, it is the reason why car buyers typically start with a small car and, in due course of time, as their disposable income increases allow themselves to move up the value chain—hatchback to sedan, and then, potentially, a large SUV.
When the BMW 2 Series was introduced in India in 2020, it wasn’t the smallest car the German luxury automaker had launched here. That was the 1 Series hatchback, rolled out in 2013 amidst much fanfare with cricket superstar Sachin Tendulkar endorsing it. It was withdrawn soon after and the 2 Series Gran Coupe, launched in December 2020, became BMW’s smallest car, making it an interesting product within the luxury segment of automobiles.
Last November, the new limited edition BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe Black Shadow was launched in India, priced at ₹43.5 lakh. Only 24 units were to be on sale in the country.
The new 2 Series is a compact car that gives the impression of belonging to a class that is higher than it actually is. Its design and body language retains core elements such as the low-slung, sporty attitude, the large kidney-shaped grille and a cockpit designed for the driver, but it also has unique exterior contours, set off by LED headlights.
Once inside this “small car”, you never feel the shortage of space that typically accompanies entry-level sedans. The legroom is a little tight at the back but that is the case with all sporty sedans. This is clearly a vehicle aimed at front-seat passengers and owners who want to drive themselves.
Occupants of the 2-Series will feel the same unmistakable ride quality, German suspension that handles Indian roads with nonchalance, and interiors that are replete with the same finishes, leathers and cluster controls you get in larger Beemers. If there is one missing accessory, it is grab handles in the rear seat—something one could use for passenger stability when the car is pulling quickly in and out.
It has got a design touch that makes it stand out—ambient lighting on trim strips on the instrument panel and door panels. Most cars go overboard with the ambient lighting but the 2 Series gets it just right: It looks understated and normal by day, and transforms into funky decorative accents by night.
The new 2 is perfectly at home on little lanes, traffic-cramped gullies and curbs with is just about enough parking for a small sedan.
On the highways, the 2 picks up a decent sprint when the pedal is floored, thanks to the 2-litre engine and 8-speed steptronic automatic transmission, and feels adequately powered with no discernible lag.
It is zippy, easy to manoeuvre and never feels uncomfortable no matter how long you are stuck in traffic, which is a testament to the fact that big is not always better.
The 2 Series Gran Coupe is the second model to be developed on the FAAR front-driven platform, which in plain speak means the handling is very impressive thanks to the way power is distributed from the front of the car.
The car doesn’t appear stripped down where it really matters. The new 2 Series is equipped with all the latest driving safety systems and connected technologies, including a live cockpit digital instrument cluster and the BMW OS 7.0 infotainment system.
Initially, the 2 was launched with a diesel engine but a petrol version has also been rolled out too.
Standard equipment includes paddle shifters, launch control, cruise control, drive modes, dual-zone climate control, panoramic sunroof, powered front seats, voice command functionality and 10.25-inch displays for the instrument cluster and infotainment system.
As someone once told me, cars are either sledgehammers or arrows. One is heavy, powerful and moves with purpose, the other flies swiftly, quickly and with aim that never misses. The 2 Series is definitely a sledge-hammer even though it is as compact and fast as an arrow.