2021 BMW 228i Gran Coupe
Jerry Kronenberg

Sophisticated 2021 BMW 228i Gran Coupe Boasts a Sub-$40,000 Price

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2021 BMW 228i Gran Coupe
Jerry Kronenberg

Fly the Coupe

The 2021 BMW 2 Series offers car buyers a chance to enjoy the German automaker's sporty luxury for less than $40,000. Available in a two-door, four-door, or convertible (okay, the ragtop starts at $41,850), the 2 Series packs plenty of BMW's legendary performance and sexiness into a modest-sized, moderately priced vehicle. I recently tested the BMW 228i xDrive Gran Coupe, the 2 Series' four-door base model, which starts at $35,700 MSRP for front-wheel drive or $37,700 for all-wheel drive, excluding a $995 destination charge. (Interestingly, the two-door 228i xDrive Coupe actually lists for $200 more than the four-door version does.)


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2021 BMW 228i Gran Coupe
Jerry Kronenberg

Exterior

On the outside, my test 228i looked like a Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla's wealthy cousin. Done in a macho blue-gray paint known as Storm Bay Metallic ($1,200), my test vehicle featured a small hood with aerodynamic styling, along with LED lights, a big BMW logo on the hood, and a classic BMW "butterfly-style" grille (basically the look of a figure eight on its side). These swept back to nice 18-inch five-spoke wheels, automatic folding side mirrors, and a nice panoramic moonroof (part of a $3,050 Premium package that added heated front seats, a heated steering wheel, and more). My test model's handles also lit up when you exited the vehicle at night, and the car projected a cool BMW logo on the ground near the driver's side door. My test 228i came with dual chrome exhaust pipes and a sexy rear spoiler that came as part of a $4,000 M Spot package, which also added sport steering.


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2021 BMW 228i Gran Coupe front seats
Jerry Kronenberg

Front Seats

My test 228i featured a masculine-looking interior of brown perforated, stitched-leather sport seats ($1,450), metallic racing-style pedals, a gray-leather steering wheel, and a gray-and-chrome dashboard. The heated, electric front seats provided excellent headroom, legroom, and hip room for the driver and front passenger. The dashboard featured a digital speedometer and tachometer, along with a nice 8.8-inch touchscreen to run the 228i's climate system, navigation, AM/FM/SiriusXM/Spotify/Apple CarPlay stereo, and more. The car also came with a voice-activated command system that worked pretty well, along with some two-dozen buttons and knobs as backups for the climate, audio, and other electronics. Another plus: a wireless phone charger.


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Rear Seats
Jerry Kronenberg

Rear Seats

The 228i's Gran Coupe's one significant weakness involves its rear seats, where BMW economized on roominess to accommodate the car's sporty roofline and decent-sized trunk. The car's rear seats provide okay hip room for two adults and just enough headroom for someone who's about 6 feet tall or less — but legroom is pretty weak. Two adults will find the space pretty tight for even modest city trips. And while the rear seats are theoretically designed for up to three adults, that's more aspirational than realistic. (Two or three smaller kids will probably find the space adequate.) There's a handy armrest/cupholder available when the center seat isn't in use.


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2021 BMW 228i Gran Coupe trunk
Jerry Kronenberg

Trunk

Part of the reason for the 228i's smallish rear seats is that the model comes with a fairly deep trunk for a small sedan. The trunk's 15.1 cubic feet of space can accommodate probably one large suitcase, one medium-sized one, and four or five knapsacks. There's also a handy storage bin under the floor that can handle some narrow objects such as purses or clothes, keeping them out of thieves' sight. Additionally, the rear seats fold down to provide even more storage space.


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2021 BMW 228i Gran Coupe race mode
Jerry Kronenberg

Road Test

On the road, my test 228i's twin-turbo four-cylinder 228-horsepower engine, M Sport suspension, eight-speed automatic transmission, and all-wheel drive teamed up to provide an impressive ride. Hit the model's keyless start-up button and the 228i comes to life, putting out a subdued purr that sounds like a powerful lion at rest. BMW rates the model's acceleration at zero to 60 mph in 6.3 seconds, and my test car did that by revving to 6,200 rpm with barely a sweat. My test 228i came with Sport, Comfort, and Eco Pro driving modes, but I didn't notice much difference between them. And as for fuel economy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rates the 228i AWD at 23 mpg/city, 33 mpg highway and 27 mpg/combined. I garnered a 29.1 mpg combined rating during a weeklong test drive.

The 228i has good front, rear and side sightlines, and brakes and corners well. Backing up and parking are easy, given the car's modest size, and a backup camera comes standard.


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2021 BMW 228i Gran Coupe
Jerry Kronenberg

Pricing

The BMW 2 Series is pretty inexpensive by BMW standards, but that doesn't make it a bargain. As noted above, my test 228i with all-wheel drive came with a $37,700 base price, but several sport and luxury upgrades took the total price to $48,495 including a $995 destination fee. That makes the model — even the $35,700 front-wheel-drive version — a tad more expensive than other small German luxury models, such as the Mercedes-Benz A Class (base price: $33,650) and Audi A3 ($33,300 MSRP). Another option to consider in this price range is BMW's own X1 crossover SUV, which starts at $35,400.

Still, getting into a BMW for less than $40,000 with the 2 Series is a pretty impressive achievement. The 228i Gran Coupe is a good way to do so — as long as you don't plan on fitting a bunch of basketball players into the modest rear seats.

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