A new 2 Series lurks in the shadows

Meet BMW’s upcoming rival to the Mercedes CLA - the upcoming 2 Series Gran Coupe, a model that will perfectly match the Three Pointed Star’s small, sleek sedan since it too will come as standard with front-wheel drive. This is very evident even in the camouflaged prototype’s proportions, clearly those of a car with a transverse-mounted engine.

Unlike the Mercedes, however, the 2 Series Gran Coupe has a more stout, upright shape. It will feature a variation of the current BMW family face up front, while at the rear its light design looks similar in shape to what we’ve seen on the latest X4.

Measuring around 4.5 meters or 177 inches in length, it slots in below the 3 Series and is a perfect match for the CLA in terms of footprint. BMW intends for the 2 Series GT to slot in between the 1 Series and the 3 Series in its range.

Standard versions of the 2 Series GC will come with front-wheel drive only, powered by small three-cylinder engines, but models higher up in the range will have four-cylinder engines and offer all-wheel drive in order to put all of their extra power down - no six-cylinder engines will be offered.

2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe Exterior

2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe Exterior Spyshots
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Unlike the Mercedes CLA, and even going against the notion of a four-door coupe (or a “Gran Coupe”), the 2 Series GC doesn’t look like an excessively tapered sedan, but actually more like a traditional three-box shape. From the side, it really reminds us a bit of a the current Audi A3 sedan, especially in the shape of the rear from the B-pillar back.

The front will be dominated by sizable teardrop-shaped headlights and a low-mounted dual-kidney grille.

Of BMW’s current crop of models, the closest to this design are the headlights of the 2 Series Active Tourer and Gran Tourer.

Its front fascia does look quite different compared to the new 3 Series. Its grille seems to be further down, and the headlights lack the notch on the lower part as seen on the 3 Series. The way all the front elements are arranged could indicate hints of the 8-Series coupe design influences, with the grille that protrudes outward more and the more swept back headlights with no notch.

Its (front and rear) bumper design will probably follow the trend set by other current models in the range, although it’s still hard to see behind its camo.

At the back it has a short deck lid and a very strongly sloped fastback-style rear window. It also appears as if it will get a small ducktail spoiler on the very tip of the trunk lid, although it could be even smaller as it may be exaggerated by the camouflage of this prototype.

2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe Exterior Spyshots
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The car’s side profile also betrays the fact that it is a front-wheel drive-biased model.

Unlike rear-wheel drive cars with a longitudinally-mounted engine, the 2 GC has a transverse-mounted engine with its gearbox on the side which sends power mainly to the front wheels. This means the front end can be much shorter and the front axle can be brought in much closer to the A-pillar, completely changing its proportions and how it is perceived.

The prototype also seems to lack one of the design features present on most current BMWs: the vent behind the front wheel - on some models this is blocked off and is purely there to keep the side looking interesting, but on others it is actually open and said to improve aerodynamics by allowing air to flow more freely around the wheel. the 2 GC appears to only get the opening in the front bumper, but not the one behind the wheel.

Of the two models spotted by our spies, the car that’s leading appears to be the hot M235i model (judging by the shape of its exhaust tips) and the one behind is a lower trim model, maybe a 220i.

2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe Interior

2018 BMW X2 - Updated Interior Drivetrain
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We have yet to see shots of the 2 GC’s interior, but we can speculate on what it will be like by looking at other new BMWs. The new 3 Series is a good starting point, although the 2 Series GC will probably use some cheaper plastics and offer slightly less room inside.

The interior of the current X2 could also provide hints as to what the 2 GC’s will look like.

As with the current crop of 2 Series models, the new 2 GC will come with different dials compared to the 1- and 3 Series, although it could come with a full digital gauge cluster so this previous means of differentiation may be less significant.

It will be available with BMW’s latest iteration of its iDrive infotainment system, with its advanced features like 3D car and surroundings visualization, an internet connection and even programmable gesture control. Other features borrowed from the larger 3 Series could also be included, like the Intelligent Personal Assistant or the automatic reverse function that will steer the car backward out of a tight situation automatically.

Browsing through the photos provided by our spies, it’s not immediately obvious whether or not the 2 GC will feature frameless side windows on the doors, but upon closer inspection it appears it won’t. It looks very similar to the new 3 Series (which does get frames), so we’re pretty sure the 2 GT won’t have them either.

2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe Drivetrain

2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe Exterior Spyshots
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BMW will give the 2 Series GC a wide range of three- and four-cylinder turbocharged engines.

It will most likely get all engines from the new 1 Series except the entry-level ones, since BMW will want to market the Gran Coupe model as a superior grade to the 1 Series.

The engine range will be very similar to that of the X2, so it will kick off with a 218i model, powered by a 140- horsepower, 1.5-liter, turbocharged three-pot, hooked up to either a standard six-speed manual or optional Steptronic dual-clutch. In this version, power would only be sent to the front wheels.

The 220i swaps out the three-pot for a larger 2.0-liter four-cylinder with 192 metric horsepower and considerably more torque (280 Nm / 206 pound-feet versus 220 Nm / 162 pound-feet). Only an automatic transmission is offered for this powerplant - either the regular Steptronic dual-clutch, or the Sports automatic alternative.

2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe Exterior Spyshots
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The diesels, 218d, 220d and 225d are all based around the same 2.0-liter four-cylinder and they deliver 150, 190 and 224 metric horsepower. Only the 18d can be had with a manual gearbox, at least that’s the case with the X2. Furthermore, we can extend the X2 parallel to speculate that all diesel versions will be available with xDrive all-wheel drive, even the base mode.

At the top of the 2 GC range will sits the M235i that will be powered by a 2.0-liter four-cylinder with around (possibly over) 300 horsepower and all-wheel drive.

It will be a rival for the Mercedes AMG CLA35 and Audi S3 sedan, all of which will have similar credentials.

We have no reports of any electrified or electric powertrains that could eventually power the 2 GC.

2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe Prices

2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe Exterior Spyshots
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BMW has never made a 2 Series Gran Coupe before, so we can’t exactly speculate on how much they are going to want for one. But since we have the key bit information that it will be positioned in between them in the range, we can therefore assume in Germany it could cost from around €33,000 - €35,000 for a base 218i with front-wheel drive and a manual gearbox.

2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe Competition

Mercedes CLA

2017 Mercedes-Benz CLA
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Mercedes has yet to reveal its all-new CLA, but between its new A-Class and the new CLS we have most of its design already figured out. Like the new A-Class it will move the game on considerably in terms of interior design and ambiance for a sedan in its size segment, as well as a mature, grown up driving experience with a hint of sportiness.

The Mercedes badge has already been the CLA’s most attractive point (second only maybe to its dramatic styling) and it will continue to be a very strong sale point for the next one, even if it sounds like it has more going for it than the outgoing model. The fact that it will probably come in two varying levels of hotness (CLA35 and CLA45) will also help boost its appeal.

Read our full review on the 2018 Mercedes CLA

Audi A3 Sedan

2017 - 2018 Audi A3 Sedan High Resolution Exterior
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The Audi A3 sedan has surprisingly similar proportions to the 2 Series Gran Coupe, especially at the rear end. However, its more sober front fascia and overall design make it a more understated choice and probably the one with the nicer interior too.

Like its rival from Mercedes, it has two levels of hot hatch to choose from: the S3 and the more extreme RS3, both of which are hugely fast, especially from a standstill and in poor traction conditions.

Read our full review on the Audi A3 Sedan

Honda Insight

2019 Honda Insight Exterior
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You may be surprised to find the Honda Insight on this list, but while it is cheaper than its premium competitors, it too is a model designed to slot in between a larger sedan and a compact hatch. Its interior also looks and feels surprisingly posh, even with the slightly confusing button layout that the other cars on this list don’t suffer from.

It lacks a dedicated performance option, though, and all-wheel drive, but its acquisition price is noticeably lower to offset these omissions. It is marketed as a safe, stylish and efficient sedan with plenty of tech, so if you don’t absolutely have to have the premium badge, it could be a solid alternative.

Read our full review on the 2019 Honda Insight


2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe Exterior Spyshots
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Considering this is BMW’s first 2 Series Gran Coupe, we can’t say what impact it will have on the market. It is simply a front-wheel drive-biased model BMW is launching in order to keep up with its main German rivals. Its traditional competitors have much more experience in selling front-wheel-drive cars in this segment: Mercedes is just about to launch the second-gen CLA, while Audi has been making the A3 sedan since 2012 and an all-new model is not far into the future.

The 2 Gran Coupe needs to look good above all else - it needs to be a stylish and fairly affordable BMW and we hope it’s good enough to maybe persuade some buyers away from high-riding crossovers and SUVs. It will definitely be more efficient and better to drive than a crossover, as well as more traditional looking and possibly even more stylish.

I don’t think the automaker is expecting it to be a huge hit, especially since it’s entering a market segment where it’s never been before and rivals have more experience, but BMW being BMW definitely won’t half-bake it either. So if it looks good, drives decently well, is safe and packed with gadgets (plus bearing that all-important BMW badge) it has no reason not to sell in decent numbers and justify its existence in the range.

Some may view the 2 GC with suspicion since it won’t look like a traditional BMW (as it will lack the traditional long hood), nor will it drive like one, with its front-wheel drive-biased platform. It definitely won’t appeal to traditional BMW buyers or brand purists, but rather to those who just want a BMW and that BMW has to be a sedan and not a trendy crossover.

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