2020 BMW 228i xDrive Gran Coupe Review

A lot of BMW and a little front-wheel drive make an odd mix


Amos Kwon, Editor-In-Chief



Positives: Smooth turbocharged four-cylinder engine, corners flat, great all-wheel drive system, great iDrive infotainment.
Negatives: Looks like a dressed-up Honda Civic from some angles, can't hide the turbo lag, loses BMW DNA and driving excitement, tight back seat, some chintzy plastic trim in the cabin, pricey with options.
Bottom Line: The 228i GC isn't the BMW you've been waiting for, unfortunately. While it has some BMW trappings like the front and rear fascias, the rest of the car looks a little low rent for nearly $50K. What's worse is the driving experience that lacks verve like other BMWs. We say pony up for the pricier M235 Gran Coupe or just get a Genesis G70.
It seems BMW creates new segments every time we change our underwear. Now, they're adding a four-door version of their 2-Series, despite the fact they share virtually no DNA. In fact, the The new 2 Series Gran Coupe borrows from the X1 and X2 crossovers, rather than from its two-door sibling. It also happens to be the brand's new entry-level model. Even though it's front-wheel drive biased, only xDrive AWD models will be sold in the states. We drove our nearly fully outfitted tester that's the less powerful 228i Gran Coupe (versus the M235i Gran Coupe) for a week to see if BMW really has gone to the dark side with its first FWD-biased sedan. Read ahead for our full impressions.
 

Driving Experience

8

 

Despite the fact that our front-wheel drive-based tester had AWD (Drive), there's no mistaking this car for its rear-wheel drive stablemates like the 2-Series Coupe or the 3-Series. It's not as dynamic or rewarding, despite the fact that it corners pretty flat.

Ride Quality: The 228i delivers a firm ride at low speeds, but it's still quite comfortable on the highway.

Acceleration: The 0-60 sprint would feel faster than 6.0 seconds if it weren't for the utterly frustrating turbo lag, even in Sport mode. It feels devoid of response for about a half second, and that's unacceptable for the Ultimate Driving Machine... which this is not. There is also some torque steer when you launch due to the FWD bias.

Braking: The brakes are strong and pedal feel is progressive.

Steering: There's not much feedback through the steering wheel (which is far too thick, btw), but at least its precise and has good effort. The M Sport steering (optional) provides more effort and better precision than the stock setup. The 2-Series coupe's steering is far better.

Handling: Althought the 228i GC corners very flat, the lack of communication via the chassis doesn't inspire the same confidence as other Bimmers. Even the optional M Sport Suspension doesn't totally rectify matters.

Technology

9.2

 

BMW has come a long way with iDrive infotainment. Now, rather than frustrating and terrible to use, it's one of the better premium brand systems out there. We like the fact that the 228i Gran Coupe doesn't scrimp on the screen size, too.

Infotainment System: The optional digital gauge cluster provides a big 10.25" infotainment screen in place of the stock 8.8" system. It's big, vivid, and easy to read. Graphics are excellent.

Controls: The controls inside the little Bimmer sedan are top notch. Easy buttons and switches for everything from climate to infotainment and drive modes are easy to read and actuate.

Styling

7.2

 

While the styling is racy, there's something about the 228i GC's look that leaves something to be desired. While it sports some clear BMW cues, the total package looks a bit half-assed.

Front: When you look at it dead on from the front, it looks like a small 6-Series GC, which isn't a bad thing at all. We're glad the giant kidney grilles from the 5-Series don't show up here.

Rear: The thin LED taillamps look really good here, and they dress up the rear fascia nicely. We also like the twin round tailpipes and the notched lip spoiler. It does, however, look a little tall from the back.

Profile: We're not huge fans of the side view. It looks a little bit like the last gen Honda Civic sedan from the side, and that cheapens the little Bimmer's looks.

Cabin: It's textbook BMW in here, which is nice. Materials quality is very good overall, except for the rather chintzy etched plastic that is mimicking something, we're just not sure what.

Comfort

7.9

 

There's no question as to whether or not the little 2-Series sedan is big inside. While front occupants fare well, the rear occupants have to suffer a little bit. If you have to have a BMW at an entry-level price, this is what you have to deal with. The X1 and X2 on which its based don't provide much better, either.

Front Seats: Our tester had the Sport seats, which BMW always does well. They're supportive, well-bolstered, and we love having that extendable thigh support.

Rear Seats: Ingress and egress are good, but the legroom at 34.4 inches is tight, especially when the front occupants are taller than average. The sloping roofline also makes headroom compromised. BMW says this is a five-seater, but there's no way unless all three of the rear occupants are kids.

NVH (noise/vibration/harshness): The 228i GC is quiet inside with only the sound of the turbo four working hard to intrude in the cabin.

Visibility: There are more mechanicals up front due to the FWD-bias, so the hoodline is a bit taller and noticeable. Glass out the front and sides are tall enough, but the rear deck messes with your sightlines out back.

Climate: The climate system worked well in the winter, and we had no problem firing things up quickly.

Safety

6.5

 

The 228i Gran Coupe hasn't been crash tested by the IIHS or the NHTSA. In terms of standard safety equipment, it does score pretty well with robust features to provide peace of mind.

IIHS Rating: Not tested.

NHTSA Rating: Not tested./p>

Standard Tech: The 228i GC comes with Frontal Collision Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Active Blind Spot Detection, a Rearview Camera, and Automatic High Beams.

Optional Tech: Our tester came with a ton of stuff like Active Guard, which is a camera-based collision warning/mitigation system, and Active Driving Assistant with Blind Spot Detection, Lane Departure Warning, Frontal Collision Warning, Pedestrian Warning with Braking, City Collision Mitigation with braking and Rear Cross Traffic Alert.

Storage/Cargo

7.5

 

No small sedan has cavernous space for gear and luggage, but the little Bimmer actually does pretty well. We would've liked more interior stowage options, but it's still not bad in the cabin.

Storage Space: The phone dock is a good idea, but it's a little tough to reach. We would've opted for a better cubby for small items. The armrest is small but can handle daily items to keep out of sight. Door pockets and the cupholder can manage small items well, too.

Cargo Room: The trunk actually is pretty good with 15.2 cubic feet of very accessible cargo space. The load floor is flat, and the area is wide. The Audi A3 has a dinky 10 cubes, and the Mercedes CLA has about 13.

Fuel Economy

7.9

 

The turbo four is pretty efficient, and we have no doubt conservative driving can net the EPA estimates. Keep in mind that Eco and Comfort seriously compromise the responsiveness of the car. We saw decent numbers despite the fact that we drove in Sport mode most of the time.

Observed: 26.4 mpg.

Distance Driven: 208 miles.

Audio

7.7

 

For nearly $50K, you should get a better stock sound system. Frankly, we were surprised that it didn't come with a Harman Kardon system, but BMW always upcharges for everything, anyway. The stock system is decent, but it won't blow you away.



Final Thoughts

BMW's threat of building a front-wheel drive-biased car is now a reality. Although it has the trappings of a BMW, it's missing something. The power is good, but the throttle response and overall feedback while driving it in a spirited fashion are less than inspiring. The Genesis G70 2.0t is bigger, better, and barely more expensive in Sport trim. BMW compromised on the 228i Gran Coupe both in its somewhat economy-car appearance and its driving thrills. We say there are better sports sedans out there.
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