Form and function combine to create delectable BMW 220i
ROAD TEST: BMW 220i
BEAN counters at BMW would be facing spreadsheet nightmares.
There seems to be an ever-evolving array of vehicles coming our way, with a range of new and unique names.
It's fairly simple when you analyse things - coupes and convertibles now start with even numbers, while sedans, wagons and hatches retain odd numbers.
Enter the 220i. This is essentially the evolution of the 1 Series Coupe.
It's the base model of the range which offers surprising ability and performance for $50,000 in the premium realm.
COMPACT coupe and four blokes… including one 208cm (that's 6"10 in old money). That sounds like mission impossible, but the little coupe was up to the task for the boys and luggage.
Sitting 5mm lower, but gaining length and width over the outgoing model, the cabin offers excellent internal flexibility. As long as those up front are willing to be generous and slide forward, adults can fit in the rear seats.
Sporting touches courtesy of the M Sport pack enhanced our test machine, gaining real leather (as opposed to the man-made stuff) along with a chunky little steering wheel.
Operationally everything is essentially straight forward, with the driver having a crisp speedometer and tachometer analogue instrument combination.
Getting used to the iDrive system for operation of the sat nav, stereo and various other functions can take some tutelage but once you get the hang of things trimming through menus is easy.
On the road
DEFYING statistics, the 220i feels more willing than the seven seconds from standstill to 100kmh indicate.
This may be the entry-level coupe but it lacks little in driving dynamics.
Throw sports suspension into the mix and it accentuates the two-door's ability. Stick it into a bend and the trademark rear-wheel drive BMW aptitude arrives and leaves you hankering for more curves.
We've seen the 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder in various other BMWs, but it feels remarkably more lithe in the 220i, courtesy of the small frame it's pushing.
Partnered to an eight-speed automatic transmission which rarely puts a foot wrong, it's a powerplant with ample appeal.
What do you get?
STANDARD features are rear parking sensors, climate controlled air-con, man-made leather trim, six-speaker stereo with USB input, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, sat nav and a 16.5cm colour screen.
No cost options are Sport or Modern 'lines'. That includes 17-inch light-alloy wheels in exclusive designs, depending on which line is selected, which also dictates ambient lighting with variable use of colours and special seat upholstery, interior trim strip and car key designs.
BMW Sport Line brings a high-gloss black finish for the outer air intake surrounds, the front of the kidney grille bars, the cross rib in the centre air intake and the rear apron.
Modern Line uses matt aluminium for the design elements mentioned above and a body-coloured paint finish for the cross rib in the air intake.
Our test car had the optional $4385 M Sport kit, which adds 18-inch alloys, sports suspension, aero body kit and Dakota leather.
THE key competition comes from Mercedes-Benz, with the C-Class Coupe (from $59,900) or the four-door CLA (from $49,900).
ACHIEVING fuel consumption of about seven litres for every 100km (about one litre above the official figure), the 220i proved impressively frugal.
BMW now offers servicing packages for better value maintenance, but insurance may be an issue for some, given the coupe sits in the premium realm and is turbocharged.
AS WELL as additional cabin space, which can encompass four adults, the boot has also been bolstered. There is now an extra 20 litres of extra luggage capacity (now 390 litres).
Two cup holders are up front, but strangely there are none down back - and it's also one of the few cars we've driven in recent times that doesn't have an arrow indicating petrol filler side. There are some good storage spots, including a cool cup holder insert for keys and phones, while the USB and auxiliary plugs are in the console.
IT'S a coupe and it wears a BMW badge. What more do you want?
It's certainly a sexy little thing, with a wonderful hip line and some masculine creases on the bonnet.
Seductive lines and a rewarding experience behind the wheel, the BMW 220i ticks all the right boxes for this genre. Yet surprisingly it also excels in the realm of functionality. The large boot and reasonable rear seat space mean the beauty is more than just skin deep.
WHAT MATTERS MOST:
What we liked: Gorgeous styling, surprisingly good internal space, dynamic to drive.
What we'd like to see: Cup holders in the back.
Warranty and servicing: Three-year unlimited kilometre warranty. BMW has condition-based servicing, but intervals are usually annually or 15,000km. Servicing packages available from $990, which covers scheduled maintenance for five years or 80,000km.