- Broad lineup
- Great turbo power in all versions
- Excellent handling for coupes and convertibles
- Quality feel
- M2 is track-ready
- Gran Coupe not as thrilling as coupe and convertible
- Rear seat not great on any
- Price climbs fast
- M2 can be a punishing commuter
features & specs
No matter the flavor, the 2021 BMW 2-Series lineup offers plenty of appeal—if not so much back-seat room.
What kind of vehicle is the 2021 BMW 2-Series? What does it compare to?
The 2-Series is the entry point to the BMW lineup; it’s available in coupe, convertible, and Gran Coupe (think low-roof sedan) forms.
The Mercedes-Benz CLA and A-Class cars are natural rivals, plus there’s the Audi A3 range and the Cadillac CT4.
Is the 2021 BMW 2-Series a good car?
The 2-Series is really a tale of two cars: The coupe and convertible ride on a rear-drive platform that gives them excellent handling and performance, while the (mostly) all-wheel-drive Gran Coupe is actually more closely related to the X1 crossover SUV.
Overall, we rate the 2021 2-Series at 6.0 out of 10, drawing our conclusions from the Gran Coupe, as it’s the more popular and practical of the lineup. The coupes and convertibles might rate a little higher given their sporty handling. (Read more about how we rate cars.)
What's new for the 2021 BMW 2-Series?
The 2-Series lineup is mostly unchanged for 2021, aside from some minor option package tweaks and a $200 to $600 price hike for most versions. A new 228i Gran Coupe base model with front-wheel drive has been added to the range, though you’re unlikely to find one on a dealer’s lot outside of California, Arizona, Texas, Georgia, or Florida. We’ve still not warmed up to the idea of a front-wheel-drive BMW, either.
The Gran Coupe has an evocative shape with a silhouette that does a reasonable job of disguising its rear doors. Convertibles and two-door coupes are more conservatively styled. Inside, dashboards are organized logically and materials are good, though dressing up with extra-cost leather and unique trim finishes helps these little BMWs feel more special.
Underhood you’ll find a turbo-4 in 228i Gran Coupe and 230i convertible and coupe models that spins out plenty of power for most drivers. The M235i Gran Coupe and M240i coupe/convertible toss in a buttoned-down suspension but differ dramatically when it comes to putting power to the ground. The M235i uses a beefed-up turbo-4 with 301 horsepower, while the M240i throws in a tire-squealing turbo-6 with 335 hp. Fuel consumption goes up with power, though base cars will easily top 30 mpg on the highway.
The M2 sits at the top of the heap in coupe and convertible form only with a 405-hp version of the turbo-6 and track-ready suspension modifications. BMW only offers the M2 in Competition guise, Munich’s code for an especially stiff setup best left to track days or smooth pavement.
Anything with a 2 affixed to its trunk is comfortable up front and just so-so at the rear. Predictably, coupes and convertibles are not ideal family cars—though we can’t blame you for dropping the top on the way to soccer practice in a convertible.
All cars are pricey but equipped well enough against German rivals. BMW checks the basics when it comes to safety features like automatic emergency braking, but adaptive cruise control is a pricey option.
How much does the 2021 BMW 2-Series cost?
The 2-Series lineup starts at about $37,000 for a base coupe, or around $2,000 more for a Gran Coupe. Options climb quickly, so plan to spend somewhere in the mid-to-low $40,000-range. A well-equipped M2 Competition can be yours for around $60,000, which is actually a good deal given its performance.
Where is the 2021 BMW 2-Series made?
2021 BMW 2-Series
It’s no ground-breaker, but the BMW 2-Series pulls off a clean look.
Is the 2021 BMW 2-Series a good-looking car?
BMW’s 2-Series is attractive, though it breaks little new ground.
The 2-Series Gran Coupe scores a 6 out of 10 on our scale with a point above average for its swoopy roof line. Coupes and convertibles aren’t as special-looking as they could be, though they’re pert and neat. M versions get dressier with bigger intakes and flares galore, plus upsized wheels that fill those wells oh-so-well.
Inside, the 2-Series is attractive but not especially stylish unless you spend up for brighter leather and classier wood or aluminum trim. Shop carefully since even on base cars BMW offers lots of options.
2021 BMW 2-Series
Always entertaining, the BMW 2-Series sizzles with the right options.
We give the 2-Series a 6 for performance, thanks to the strong acceleration of its base engine. Nearly every other model would score higher, but they’re more rare—and our favorite, the M2, is the rarest of all.
Is the BMW 2-Series 4WD?
Most versions of the 2-Series are all-wheel drive, though the answer’s not quite that simple. Gran Coupes deliver power to the front wheels most of the time and shuffle it rearward in harder driving or on slippery roads. A new front-drive 228i Gran Coupe this year helps Sun Belt shoppers save $2,000, though we haven’t driven it yet.
Coupes and convertibles are the opposite; they use rear-wheel-drive architecture and extra-cost xDrive versions can send power forward in rain or snow.
How fast is the BMW 2-Series?
There’s not a slow car in this bunch, but M versions have outrageous levels of power.
First, let’s look at the Gran Coupe. Base 228i versions use a 2.0-liter turbo-4 rated at 228 horsepower that’s paired to an 8-speed automatic transmission. The engine spins out plenty of power for a 6.0-second sprint to 60 mph. The M235i uses a 301-hp version of this engine and the same gearbox to shave nearly a second and a half off that 60 mph sprint.
No matter the engine, the limited-slip front differential and brake-based torque vectoring help deliver good grip and relatively neutral handling. Overall, the Gran Coupe does a good job masking its front-drive origins. The M235i tightens up the suspension and tosses a Torsen limited-slip differential into the transmission that will let you thrust the car into corners with even more aplomb.
We haven’t driven a 228i with the costly M Sport suspension yet, though we suspect it will handle sharply.
Coupes and convertibles use a version of that same turbo-4 rated at 248 hp paired with a different 8-speed automatic that hustles power to the rear or all wheels. Performance is impressive—BMW quotes about 5.3 seconds regardless of drive wheels. The M240i swaps in a 335-hp turbo-6 that’s just divine. A manual transmission is a no-cost option in the M240i (go for it!).
These rear-drive-based 2-Series cars boast terrific grip and a communicative chassis that reminds us of BMW’s performance glory days—the brand tends to focus more on technology and luxury with its other models. Even a base car is a brilliant handler, though the sport suspension tuning optional on the 230i and standard on the M240i is even sharper.
The M2 comes only in Competition guise with a stiff, track-oriented suspension as well as a 405-hp version of the straight-6 paired with either a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed dual-clutch automatic. In the M2, the engine spins all the way to a 7,600-rpm redline and delivers 0-60 sprints in under four seconds.
The M2 is a proper blast on a road course but can be a bit much in daily driving, so make sure to test it before it tests you.
2021 BMW 2-Series
Comfort & Quality
Small on the outside, the 2-Series can be cramped on the inside for a full complement of passengers.
The 2-Series Gran Coupe has good space for front passengers and so-so room for rear-seat riders and cargo. We rate it at 5 out of 10.
Coupes and convertibles are about the same up front with nicely-contoured power-adjustable seats with good support, but rear-seat space is tight at best and the trunk shrinks from 15.1 to 13.8 cubic feet in coupes and just 11.8 cubic feet in convertibles (which lose another 2 cubes with the top lowered).
The 2-Series has a nicely-built feel with good materials for the price. Optional leather is pricey but dresses up an otherwise somewhat bland cabin.
2021 BMW 2-Series
We can’t assign a score to the BMW 2-Series for its safety yet.
How safe is the BMW 2-Series?
The BMW 2-Series comes with a good array of collision-avoidance tech, though we’re waiting on some crash-test figures.
BMW does include a decent level of active and passive crash gear. Automatic emergency braking and plenty of airbags on hardtops come standard. Convertibles lack curtain side airbags.
The IIHS has rated coupes with mostly Good scores, though headlight performance is subpar and prevents the car from earning a Top Safety Pick award. The NHTSA has not tested any 2-Series version.
2021 BMW 2-Series
A wide range of luxury options helps to justify the BMW 2-Series’ hefty price tag.
Which BMW 2-Series should I buy?
Once you’ve narrowed down to a body style, you’ll want to consider how much power you feel you need.
Gran Coupes are just fine in 228i form. They have a good level of standard tech and safety gear, plenty of options, and a 4-year/50,000-mile warranty with free scheduled service that nets an 8 out of 10 on our scale.
Be judicious with options on a $37,000 228i; if you add enough bits and baubles, the M235i’s $8,000 premium may be easy to justify. For instance, M Sport packages run between $4,000 and $5,000 on the 228i—spend for the M235i at that point.
A buyer on a budget can add metallic paint, leather trim, a sunroof, and adaptive cruise control, and still keep things in the low $40,000s.
Coupes start at a similar $37,000 and come comparably equipped to Gran Coupes, while convertibles run $6,000 more.
If you don’t need a back seat, an M240i with leather, heated seats, and a few niceties like Harman/Kardon audio and a wireless charging pad squeaks in for less than $50,000.
How much is a fully loaded 2021 BMW 2-Series?
Grab an M2 Competition and pony up for metallic paint, a heated steering wheel, LED headlights, a sunroof, the dual-clutch gearbox, and even the M Driver’s Package that includes an instruction day on a road course and BMW will want a check for $68,000.
2021 BMW 2-Series
The BMW 2-Series can be thrifty if you stick with a 4-cylinder version.
Is the 2021 BMW 2-Series good on gas?
Versions of the 2021 2-Series powered by the turbo-4 engine—230i and 228i cars—are rated at between 24 and 28 mpg combined, and as high as 33 mpg on the highway. That’s not bad given the power underhood, and it’s enough for us to score these cars at 5 out of 10.
The EPA hasn’t rated turbo-6 coupes and convertibles yet for 2021, though last year’s M240i was rated at 30 mpg highway and the rorty M2 checked in with a still-tolerable 24 mpg given more than 400 horsepower muscles its way to the ground.
BMW requires premium fuel across the range.