2020 BMW 228i xDrive Gran Coupe Review by Rob Eckaus +VIDEO
The small one seeks its niche
By Rob Eckhaus
It is not easy to classify a small sedan with a transverse mounted engine with a solid array of technological features that has an MSRP of $48,495. This small car has the sleek styling of a coupe yet has four doors for implied practicality. Driving it for a week revealed the both the benefits and disappointments.
Addressing the name dichotomy first, it suggests the interior space is less than 33 cubic feet per the Society of Automotive Engineers for the coupe designation. Maybe the “Gran” allows some crossover into sedan territory. Regardless of what it is called it means the rear doors are short and with two adults in the front seats, the rear seats are not usable for adult rear occupants.
Being more of a personal or couples’ choice for transportation, it fulfills that roll with a sporty intent. He impression it gave was targeted for more urban environments due to its compact size, making for easier parking and maneuvering. The all-wheel drive benefits are self-evident, therefore any region in the US benefits. Perhaps that urban couple just doesn’t want a little SUV and prefers the handling of this low-slung sedan, er, I mean coupe.
The issue with driving in the city is the harsh ride over less-than-smooth surfaces with the M sport suspension. Get it out on the open road with smoother surfaces and the ride is fine with minimal wind noise. Driving on textured pavement brings too much road noise from the tires. Overall, the opinion formed about the standard equipment Bridgestone Turanza LS100 tires is not favorable.
A two occupant, one-day road trip totaling over 400 miles did reveal positives. The 228hp engine provided enough power for passing traffic even at over-the-limit speeds. Even with cruising speeds above 75mph and hardly ever below, the indicated miles per gallon was around 37, well above the EPA rating of 33. The city rating of 23mpg also seems pessimistic. Even with a small 13.2 gallon fuel tank, it all worked.
Typical of BMW, the driving position is excellent. Sport seats are always recommended when choosing BMW options with their superior adjustability and support. These were firm and even though there was no soreness or hot spots, one never felt coddled and cushioned. And like an 2011 BMW 335d I owned for years, they are slightly narrow in the upper thighs.
With a torque peak of 258lbs ft at a low 1450rpm, the throttle response is good but in sport mode it is excellent. While performing some Dragy testing the best 0-60mph time was 6.67 seconds. Both runs were attempted while doing a brake torque which to bogged down the powertrain severely. Testing by Car & Driver resulted in a 5.1 second 0-60mph and a 13.8 second quarter mile at 99mph. More relatable was the 6.3 second rolling 5mph to 60mph time. It does all this with an urgent sound that is not typical four-cylinder bleating.
Looking over the low-slung four-door, the blackout trim is a nice touch, complimenting the Storm Bay Metallic paint, a $1200 option. It is like the popular gray shades seen commonly with Audi and Dodge. With the short rear decklid, topped by subtle yet handsome trunk lip, means the trunk unfortunately is accessed horizontally. A less than ideal compromise for groceries and other items that one arranges in the trunk. The twin-spoke, 18” M badged wheels certainly suggest sport intentions despite the tires.
Keeping with the sporty appearance, black trim along the bottom of the car visually lowers it. Behind the grill is the active air stream system. The black louvers retract and allow better airflow for the brake and engine cooling systems. The LED “light carpet” projected from the car on the ground isn’t spectacular, but does contribute to that luxury brand panache.
Entering the car is kind of neat due to various subtle sounds from the electrical devices behind the dashboard. The excellent center and driver display also have a greeting cycle. Even the hood release lever sequence and parking brake use makes little electro-mechanical noises.
The interior is a mix a of good such as the seats covered in a Mocha Perforated leather a richly colored $1450 option that contrasts nicely with the exterior. The not-so-good examples are the hard center armrest and a cubby that would not fit a phone nor wallet. One of my biggest pet peeves is the sun visor neither expands nor slides so it does not block the sun from the side. Where my eyes happen to be. Not bothersome is how plenty of light enters through the large moonroof and panoramic glass panel behind it.
The M Sport Package is $4000 and includes the rear spoiler, M Sport Steering wheel and suspension. The $3,050 Premium package includes a heated steering wheel, keyless entry, the panoramic moonroof, heated front seats, LED lights, head-up display, Sirius XM for one year and connectivity technologies. The only other additional cost option was remote engine start for $300.
The technology and equipment offered in the 228i xDrive Gran Coupe is certainly premium level. The bigger question is whether the size and performance can be justified by the price.