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2017 BMW 230i xDrive Coupe Review By Steve Purdy

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..."it’s a bit pricey but the leading-edge performance and sophistication along with the legendary BMW quality and pedigree go a long way to making that cost worth paying"

2017 BMW 230i xDRIVE COUPE
Review by Steve Purdy
The Auto Channel
Michigan Bureau

My personal relationship with BMW began with the purchase of a 1970 BMW 2002, a car that has become an icon representing that storied brand’s first post-WWII success in mass market car production. And a great little car it was, powered by a sophisticated 2-liter, 112 horsepower engine with hemispherical combustion chambers and agility unmatched by anything on the market at the time. Mine was the school-bus orange they called “Colorado” with a black vinyl interior.

Imagine my ear-to-ear grin while researching this week’s 230i Coupe when I found it on BMW’s Web site compared to that original 2002 - and that 230i Coupe was an orange one too. Our test car is the same unusual orange as the one on the Website – sort of a cinnamon color BMW calls “Valencia Orange.” And, like the old one, it just looks agile even at rest in the driveway – small, stylish, graceful and athletic. We could use identical adjectives to describe the old one.

The 2-Series encompasses the coupe and convertible versions of BMW’s smallest 1-Series sedan, a size smaller than the most popular 3-Series we all know and love. The subtle styling won’t jump out at you but there is no mistaking its identity as a BMW. The squashed, double-kidney grille flows into squinty headlights accented by large lower vents in the front fascia that house air intakes and fog lights. Side sculpting shows ridges high and low integrating beautifully with the thin C-pillar and perfectly sized wheel arches.

Interior style and design break no new ground being conventional in every way. As you would expect, the materials, fit and finish inside are impeccable, though, offering no homage to gratuitous style or luxury. Rather, Teutonic functionality and precision complete the theme. The iDrive controller (a rocking knob) on the console manages the multifunction screen and I would give it a good, solid B+ for ease and intuitiveness. I was easily able to change my navigation settings, something often more complex with German brands. And, other functions did not frustrate me and I’m typically averse to gratuitous technology. I’ll admit, though, I did not explore all the functions within the system.

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Bolsters on the smallish, extra firm seats up front make ingress and egress a bit challenging for an oversized guy like me but would not be a problem for a regular sized person. Once in, I found the driver’s seat tight but comfortable and the feel of being held tightly adds to the sporty character of the car. Ergonomics are good and the tactile character of all the things we touch and manipulate have that feel of heft and precision. Rear seat room is limited of course. A car this size and the two-door configurations make it quite a challenge to squeeze back there for even compact people. The rear seat backs fold 60/40 with release cables in the trunk.

A good share of the 230i’s charm is under the hood. A 248-horsepower 2.0-liter four-cylinder with a twin-scroll turbo powers this rear-wheel drive coupe. Power gets to the rear by way of a slick 8-speed automatic transmission with manual mode controlled by either the console-mounted electric shifter or paddles on the steering wheel. That twin-scroll turbo virtually eliminates lag and BMW claims a 0-to-60 time of just 4.2 seconds. Having put my foot in it more than a few times, I don’t doubt that number. The EPA estimates we can get 24 mpg in the city, 33 on the highway and 27 mpg combined and it does not require premium fuel. Our experience in a variety of conditions this week resulted in an average of nearly 29 mpg. Your mileage will vary with your level of self control, since it is mighty tempting to experience that smooth, dramatic thrust with every start.

Our test car includes the xDrive (all-wheel drive system) and shows a base price of $35,150. The special “Oyster Dakota” leather costs an extra $1,450 and the Premium Package (Moonroof, keyless entry, power front seats with lumbar support, ambient lighting, one year of satellite radio and universal garage door opener) adds another $2,950. This one also has the $2,300 Track Handling Package (special 18-inch alloy wheels, M-Sport brakes, adaptive suspension and variable sport steering) making it even more thrilling to drive spiritedly. With a few other pricey options this sweet little coupe shows a bottom line on the sticker of $50,070.

When we splurged on our 1970 BMW 2002, paying around $4,200. We could have bought a loaded Pontiac Grand Prix for the same money. As you may recall, that was a personal luxury car at the time, not the white bread sedan it became later. You might be able to get to fifty-grand loading up a Buick LaCrosse or Cadillac CTS, but I can’t think of anything in the U.S. automakers comparable to that Grand Prix today.

BMW’s warranty covers the car, including the powertrain, for 4 years or 50,000 miles and regular maintenance is included for the first 3 years or 36,000 miles.

You may be able to tell from this review that I’m fond of this little Bimmer. Sure, it’s a bit pricey but the leading-edge performance and sophistication along with the legendary BMW quality and pedigree go a long way to making that cost worth paying, if you have the resources to do so.

© Steve Purdy, Shunpiker Productions, All Rights Reserved

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