I hadn’t much pondered the idea of a front-drive-based BMW sedan in a while. Sure, there had been rumors about the German luxury brand launching one at some point, but the automaker’s debuts have been heavy on SUVs and M performance models of late. Well, that front-drive-based car is here in the new 2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe, and after poking around it at the 2019 Los Angeles Auto Show, the result is even worse than I feared.
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The 2 Series Gran Coupe doesn’t actually have front-wheel drive — both 228i and M235i variants will have all-wheel drive when they go on sale in the spring. Don’t confuse it with the current rear-drive-based 2 Series coupe and convertible, however, because the 2 Series Gran Coupe rides on a different front-drive-based platform that, apart from the twin-kidney grille, headlights and taillights, has little of BMW’s familiar aesthetic. The nose is too short. The front overhangs are too long. Heck, even the brand’s famed Hofmeister kink is no more. You don’t really have to remove many design aspects before the 2 Series Gran Coupe becomes just another compact car.
In that way it’s like the Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class, which, similar to the 2 Series Gran Coupe, broke the mold at Mercedes by coming to market with a front-drive platform under its sheet metal. BMW is just following Mercedes’ lead.
That doesn’t make it right, however, and I’m still dejected at the sight of it. What’s more, BMW had to go and rub salt in the wound by showing the new 2020 M2 CS coupe alongside the 2 Series Gran Coupe at the show. In the course of scrutinizing the 2 Series Gran Coupe I kept looking over to the M2. Could BMW have found a way to turn that rear-drive coupe into a Gran Coupe? Sure, it would have had a tiny backseat, but at least it’d look like a BMW.
And it’s not like the 2 Series Gran Coupe has lots of room in its backseat. It’s tight for adults, and I didn’t have enough headroom. The front of the cabin, meanwhile, is snug but workable, and the multimedia system is operable from the touchscreen or console knob controller.
One of the great aspects of the larger 4 Series Gran Coupe is that it pairs sleek, sedanlike styling with hatchback functionality; its rear window and deck lid open as one unit to reveal an open cargo area. The 2 Series Gran Coupe has a traditional trunk, but it makes the most of the space with a low liftover for easy loading, an underfloor storage area and a flat extended cargo floor when the rear seat is folded.
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Whatever you think of the 2 Series Gran Coupe’s design, it’ll fill an important role in the brand’s car lineup much like the X1 has on the SUV side by giving shoppers a more affordable entry sedan than the 3 Series, BMW’s onetime entry-level model. That explains its existence, but it doesn’t change what I think of it.
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