$20,507 - $39,340

2017 BMW 2-Series Performance Review

Note: This performance review was created when the 2017 BMW 2-Series was new.


Performance: 8.9

You'll be hard-pressed to find another luxury small car, outside of the BMW lineup, that offers better performance than the 2017 2 Series. From a powerful engine lineup to sharp handling and a compliant ride, there's a lot to like. Fuel economy is among the best in the class. With its small size, it's also quite maneuverable, both out on the road and in the parking garage.

  • "The 2017 BMW 2 Series is among the German automaker's most engaging cars. It's compact, agile, balanced and quick -- whether powered by an eager turbocharged 4-cylinder engine or a sweet inline 6-cylinder -- but still comfortable and upscale." -- Autotrader
  • "Pros … Impressively quick performance yet fuel-efficient; handling inspires confidence without sacrificing ride quality …" -- Edmunds
  • "Because the 2016 BMW 2 Series is designed as a rear-drive car first, we think it holds a competitive edge over front-wheel-drive models like the Audi A3 and Acura ILX." -- Kelley Blue Book (2016)

Acceleration and Power

The 230i comes with a 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine that makes 248 horsepower. An eight-speed automatic transmission comes standard, but shoppers have the option of a six-speed manual gearbox as well. The M240i model comes with a 3.0-liter turbocharged six-cylinder engine, which puts out 335 horsepower. To get to 365 horsepower, the M2 squeezes a little more power out of the same six-cylinder engine. The M2 comes with a six-speed manual transmission, but a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission is an option.

In the base 230i, expect 24 mpg in the city and 35 mpg on the highway with the automatic transmission. Oddly, there's a notable drop in efficiency when opting for the manual gearbox, which returns 21 mpg in the city and 32 on the highway. In fact, going for the convertible or xDrive doesn't drop the fuel economy nearly as much as getting the manual transmission. Still, these numbers make the 2 Series one of the most efficient luxury small cars.

With the 230i, the base four-cylinder engine feels more powerful than its horsepower might suggest, and most will find it more than able to tackle daily driving. For those who want more power, the M240i's six-cylinder engine steps it up almost 90 horsepower, and you'll certainly feel and hear the difference. The eight-speed automatic transmission works well with both engines, but for true enthusiasts, the six-speed manual is the way to go.

If you plan on taking the M2 out for a spin, leave your tame side at home. This potent 365-horsepower beast of a car uses overboost, which can increase torque from a standard 343 pound-feet to a maximum of 369 pound-feet. As a result, this meaty six-cylinder engine promises to move you off the line in a heartbeat when you need it.

Like many other models in the BMW lineup, the 2 Series comes standard with a stop-start feature that shuts the engine off when the car comes to a stop. Once you press the accelerator, the car instantly starts up and yields immediate power. Some find this gas-saving enhancement annoying, so BMW designed it to be disabled at the driver's request.

  • The entry level 4-cylinder engine feels like it's punching above its declared output numbers, per BMW's norm. As awesome as the M240i's engine feels (and sounds) at full throttle, it carries a premium of $11,000 in coupe form, and that may not be worth the few tenths of a second shaved from acceleration runs." -- Autotrader
  • "On the road, the 2017 BMW 2 Series quickly makes it clear that it's a serious sport coupe. Even the four-cylinder 230i offers acceleration lively enough to satisfy the vast majority of buyers. The M240i's new 3.0-liter six-cylinder delivers startling performance that shows what 335 hp beneath the hood of a small car can really do. The smooth-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission performs well, but it's nice to see BMW still offers the six-speed manual gearbox as a no-cost option for those who prefer a more hands-on driving style." -- Edmunds
  • "The BMW M2 is powered by a turbocharged inline-6 that makes a robust 365 horsepower. Torque output is rich at 343 lb-ft, and an overboost function allows it to briefly increase that twist to 369 lb-ft. These figures allow the M2 to hit the 0-60-mph benchmark in as little at 4.2 seconds. Top speed is limited to 155 mph. All M2s are rear-wheel drive. A 6-speed manual is the standard transmission (and our recommendation), and a 7-speed twin-clutch automatic is optional. An automatic engine start/stop system cuts power at stoplights, but can be defeated if you find the start-ups too abrupt." -- Kelley Blue Book (2016)

Handling and Braking

There's no doubt about it: the BMW 2 Series is an agile corner carver. Its lightning-quick responses and pinpoint accuracy make this a fun car to drive aggressively. This strength is even more pronounced in the performance trims, the M240i and the M2, with their upgraded steering, brakes, and suspension. Rear-wheel drive comes standard, but models with xDrive have all-wheel drive. The M2 is not available with all-wheel drive.

Although the 2 Series favors sporty handling, its ride is nothing short of smooth. That means once you get it onto the highway, the ride remains steady and controlled.

Maneuverability is another ace up this BMW's sleeve. Its small size will allow you to duck in and out of lanes to skate through slow-moving traffic. (But drive safely!) When you get to where you're going, parking the compact 2 Series will be a breeze.

  • "The ride is supple and refined, but the main focus is clearly on razor-sharp responses -- which makes it special, especially in light of its comparatively reasonable pricing." -- Autotrader
  • "Elsewhere, the 2 Series retains all the same good qualities that have made it popular since its debut, not the least of which is a well-tuned suspension. The result is a car that's adept at blasting along a winding stretch of asphalt yet still composed and comfortable while motoring down long stretches of arrow-straight Interstate. The maneuverability that such a compact package delivers also gives the 2 Series practical advantages in everyday driving, including the ability to weave through traffic and squeeze into tight parking spaces." -- Edmunds
  • "The electric rack-and-pinion power steering is quick and accurate, and the snug embrace of the beautiful leather buckets gives the driver a strong sense of partnership with the car. It's a classic BMW dynamic trait that's particularly intense here -- the car as an extension of the driver's will." -- Popular Mechanics (2015)

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