2018 BMW 2 Series Driving Impressions

In the 2 Series, BMW offers three engines and three transmissions, which can’t be totally mixed and matched, but no matter, it’s all good. As long as you know what you want, because the three engines offer a wide power range, from quick to see-me-on-the-track. Also offered is a choice between rear-wheel drive and all-wheel drive. Open or closed top. So many choices, all good, as long as you know what you want.

We know what we want, it’s the 230i for its perfect match between the 2.0-liter turbo engine and the car’s size and platform. For its balance; for the engine itself. With direct injection, it makes 248 horsepower and 290 pound-feet of torque. It’s strong and fast all through the powerband, like a moving wall of thrust; and it’s super smooth. It even sounds almost throaty. We don’t need to look any farther. And we’ll take the eight-speed paddle-shifting automatic, since the six-speed manual transmission costs the same, almost unheard-of.

But if you now want to cut one second off the 230i’s zero-to-sixty time, for another $10,000 or so, there is the M240i, with its almost-masterpiece 3.0-liter twin-scroll turbo inline six-cylinder engine making 330 horsepower. Almost all of the torque is available low in the rev range. It’s the perfect engine for the larger 3 Series, but it brings more power than is needed to make the 2 Series an ideal car.

Speaking of more power than needed, we have the M2. If what you want is to get on the track, it’s about right, with 365 horsepower at 6500 rpm and 343 pound-feet of torque between 1400 and 5560 rpm, with overboost to 369 lb-ft.

Back to the real world of the 230i. The electric power steering is extremely precise but a bit numb. The optional limited-slip differential, giving grip to both rear wheels instead of just one, is helpful in cornering and especially in icy conditions; we’d spring for that.

But for real winter, you want the xDrive, even with the convertible. It’s worth it for $2000 and the couple less miles per gallon.

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