BMW finally has a proper rival to the likes of the Mercedes-Benz CLA. It’s called the 2-Series Gran Coupe, and that name alone could trick some into thinking that it’s a longer version of the 2-Series Coupe and Cabrio. But it’s not, and that’s the confusing part – at least for Americans, as Europeans do get the FWD 2-Series Active and Gran Tourer minivans.
The two-door versions of the 2-Series lineup are based on a rear-wheel drive platform, whereas the Gran Coupe is underpinned by the same architecture as the new 1-Series. This is also shared with the X1, X2, MINI Clubman and Countryman, and it’s front-wheel drive, although with an xDrive all-wheel drive system in the M235i, which is the top-spec grade of the lineup.
A rival to the likes of the 302 HP Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 and upcoming Audi S3 Sedan, the M235i Gran Coupe has a 301 HP and 332 lb-ft (450 Nm) of torque 2.0-liter four-pot, hooked up to an eight-speed auto and all-wheel drive. Top speed is electronically capped at 155 mph (250 km/h) and the 60 mph (96 km/h) mark is hit in 4.6 seconds.
Compared to the regular 2-Series Gran Coupe, the M235i features a sporty makeover inside and out, and comes with a tighter M Sport suspension. All of the bells and whistles are present, including an intuitive infotainment system with voice commands, digital dials, comfortable front sports seats and ambient lighting. The build quality is on par with the rest of the class, although just like in other four-door ‘coupes’, the sloping roofline drastically affects the rear headroom.
In Canada, where the following review took place, you’re looking at CA$50,900 (US$36,555) for the base model, whereas the tester cost CA$57,800 (US$41,510). In the U.S., it has an MSRP of $46,495, while the RWD drift machine, the 405 HP M2 Competition, will set you back $58,900.