Opinionated at any speed . . . Silvio Calabi

BMW 230i Coupe

Tue, 05/17/2022 - 11:00am

It’s a sweetie, this one—light (feeling), responsive, quick, willing and altogether satisfying. The 230i Coupe, re-done for 2022, is a throwback to the time when all BMWs, no matter their size, were exactly that—“ultimate driving machines,” one might say. It’s true even though a manual gearbox is currently no longer an option in the 2-Series.

But the 8-speed automatic is brilliant; so is this seemingly frictionless 2.0-liter, 255-horsepower twin-turbocharged four-cylinder engine. Throttle response is virtually immediate, as is acceleration and the buildup of forward momentum. BMW long ago sorted out its variable-ratio steering; the spookiness is gone, replaced by accuracy, response and decent feedback, available at a moderately light touch.

Braking is of a piece with the acceleration and steering, too—well calibrated, linear and requiring little more than a thought to bring into play. If the 2-Series is aimed at younger drivers, it feels as though it was designed by wise engineers.

Two-Series coupes, with two doors, are just right for, well, two people. Technically, there’s room for two more in the back, but once the kids have outgrown their child seats, it becomes overflow space for whatever won’t fit in the trunk, which is surprisingly capacious. The front seats tilt and slide forward, for access, and then automatically motor back to their original settings.

(It’s a small car. To transport a tallboy pickup buoy down to the dock, I stuck the mast up through the sunroof—the poor man’s ski rack, as it was known back in the ‘60s and ‘70s.)

This particular 230i is especially well-endowed, with the M Sport, Dynamic Handling and Premium packages. These improve its performance with bigger wheels and tires, stronger brakes, a locking differential, firmer suspension, etc., and add subtle styling tweaks.

There are extra luxury features too, such as seat and steering-wheel heat, a head-up display in the windshield, a fancier stereo and so forth, but the appeal of this car is not marred by a whopping price tag: At least for a loaded BMW, an MSRP of $48,945 is relatively affordable. Or we could knock out these upgrades and drop the price to a low, low $36,350—but then it wouldn’t be as capable or comfortable. (Good luck finding one set up that way.)

Of course, it’s possible to spend more on a 2, too. The M240i xDrive Coupe can be optioned up to well over 60 grand; that kind of money buys a 382-horsepower turbocharged straight-six engine and—to put all those ponies to the pavement—all-wheel drive. Fingers crossed that one of those finds its way to my driveway also.