This week, Greg and Tim are taking on the 2015 BMW 228i xDrive coupe, the entry level all-wheel drive two-door from Bavaria.
This all-new 2-Series is going to be a big hit with people of all ages as it delivers true BMW-bred road manners and is within economical reach of many of today’s consumers.
Powering our little beauty is BMW’s twin-turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder, which produces 240 horses and 255 lb. ft. of torque and allows accelerating to 60-mph in just 5.4 seconds. The reason for this outstanding performance is BMW utilizing a twin power turbo design, which kicks in to make the 228i feel more like a powerful V6 than a tiny four. The twin power turbo, by the way, doesn’t mean there are two turbos. To explain in layman terms, BMW’s single turbo receives its “twin power” from an electric, low RPM assist that eliminates any lag until the RPMs kick in high enough to take over the entire turbo boost via exhaust pressure. (And it works splendidly).
Acceleration and cruising assist comes via an eight-speed automatic transmission, which is also responsible for the outstanding 23 city and 35 highway EPA fuel mileage numbers. Another “saving fuel” item is BMW’s stop-start function, which shuts the engine off when you’re stopped at a red light.
Knowing that BMW owners demand driving and handling perfection, this new compact sized Bimmer is everything one expects from one of today’s top manufacturers. Our tester came in one of only two models available, either a rear-drive or AWD two-door coupe (ours) or a six-cylinder powered convertible. If you’re looking for a sedan, you’ll have to move up to the 3-Series as BMW has yet to announce a sedan in the 2-Series field.
All 228i BMWs come with 17-inch tires on nice aluminum alloy wheels, cruise, air conditioning, rain-sensing wipers, fog lamps, folding heated side mirrors, “Sensa Tec” upholstery seating, three-spoke tilt-and-telescoping leather wrap steering wheel, paddle shifters and much more. For music and info, an iDrive system with 6.5-inch screen works with an HD Radio/AM/FM/CD for your listening pleasure. USB, iPod and Bluetooth connectivity are also standard.
Most notable is that our tester came with the all-wheel-drive xDrive mechanicals and a highly recommended $2,250 M Sport Package, which will pay big dividends if spirited driving or race track test days are part of your ownership itinerary. The M Sport features special brakes, adaptive M suspension, variable sport steering, 18-inch tires on grey/aluminum alloys, chrome line exterior and more. Additional options were a $500 brushed aluminum trim, $550 special paint treatment and another $500 for heated seats. With a $950 delivery fee, it brought the final tally to $38,600. (The base for an AWD 228i xDrive is $33,900). Check your dealer for current incentives.
All 2015 BMW 2 Series models feature four-wheel ABS brakes, stability and traction control and all the airbags. Our tester did not have a backup rear safety camera, which will become mandatory in the years ahead. (What are you waiting for BMW?)
The 228i cabin is very inviting and roomy for the front passengers. As expected, rear passengers will find things a bit tight if they are of adult size, but that’s the trade off right now for a BMW compact coupe that is high on everything except price.
All interior appointments are of expected BMW quality and fit, with a special flare for performance enhancements built in. It did take some time for me to learn the iDrive system and radio as tuning into a favorite AM station took several tries until I figured everything out.
Surprising was 228i’s cargo space as we took our BMW on a trip to Baltimore’s Inner Harbor and had no trouble fitting three suitcases and some extra ancillary items. The rear seat is a 60/40 split, so had we needed more room it was there.
Because of high performance Michelin ZR-rated summer the tires, there is more road noise than usual, but the trade off in grip is fair and all you have to do is turn up the music to drown it out. Other than that, expect a luxurious ride and comfort beyond what one expects in a car that is ready for the turns at the Watkins Glen road course.
Important numbers include a wheelbase of 105.9 inches, 3,345 curb weight, 13.7 gallon fuel tank and 13.8 cu. ft. of cargo space.
Overall, it’s the driving impressions I must emphasize the most, as my co-driver on the trip (a fellow publisher and car fanatic) put the 228i through its paces on the trip home. Be it tight maneuvering, higher speed passing, or just some comfortable 65-mph cruising, this BMW is really a driver’s car.
In summary, it’s one of the best $33,900 AWD sports cars we’ve ever driven.
The 228i is hands down the best car for the money that I have ever driven from a performance point of view.
With a RWD version starting at $32,100, the bang for your buck factor is huge in this vehicle. Personally, I wouldn’t want to stack this thing up with $10,000 worth of options, although that is possible to do.
The 228i features a standard 8-speed dual clutch transmission, which operates on par with Mitsubishi’s offering that I have raved about in the past. Upshifts are near instant, and downshifts are perfectly rev matched. A manual 6-speed can be added to the car at no additional cost.
The argument for which transmission style to choose is almost as old as time itself, with many diehards firmly situated in both camps. The automatic is faster on the track, the manual is more fun and offers more control. While the debate is always ongoing, I highly recommend those who worship the stick-shift god at least give the 8-speed a chance during a dealer test drive. Technology has come very far in the last 10 years that allows drivers to have a faster vehicle with automatic transmissions, while maintaining the feel and control that a manual offers through paddle shifters.
Whatever you choose, 228i is sure to handle like a champ, and offer power that is nothing to sneeze at. With its bottom of the bucket 2.0L TwinPower turbocharged four cylinder engine, the car provides amazing torque at low RPM while meshing with our tester’s 8-speed close ratio gear box that results in violent acceleration through the first three gears.
Gas mileage, of course, is on par with four cylinder powered vehicles of its size, but 228i really impresses us with its low end torque. From 1800 rpms, a full throttle push will deliver full power from an already spooled turbo. There is no need for revving this thing out to 3,000 rpms to make it up a hill, a problem that many naturally aspirated four cylinders suffer from.
I would steer away from calling 228i a sports car. It is a coupe through and through. Think something along the lines of a Subaru BRZ package in a body style that is permissible for transport to a corporate meeting.
The amazing thing about 228i is that I believe it can appeal to a college graduate fresh out of school and a man nearing retirement. It is that versatile, and that’s what I love.
For those of you looking for 228i performance in a package that can comfortably seat people in the rear seats, I would suggest taking a look at BMW’s 3-series. I haven’t driven a new one, but from what I’ve seen it shares a lot of the same technology from the 2-series and would be an adequate choice.
Entry Price: $33,900
Price as Tested: $38,600
Likes: Affordability, great power and MPG, superb handling.
Dislikes: No rear safety camera, no four door model, tight rear seat.