The 3 Series has always paved the way to BMW ownership for Malaysian motorists yearning for a taste of Bavarian luxury and performance. But all of that is about to change now that the 2 Series Gran Coupé is officially available in local showrooms, as an affordable CKD model at that.
BMW Malaysia calls its latest model the first locally-assembled four-door coupé in the country, which is technically true for sticklers of semantics. But the F44 2 Series Gran Coupé – let’s just call it 2GC from now to keep things simpler – is still largely a saloon in essence, albeit one equipped with coupé staples like a low-slung roofline and frameless windows.
At present, the 2GC is only available here in 218i M Sport format. This means you’ll find a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbo under its hood mated to a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission that drives the front wheels, just like in the recently-launched BMW X1 sDrive18i. As with the case with the FWD F40 1 Series, BMW insists that the brand’s hallmark handling is preserved using ARB technology. This is a form of “near-actuator wheel slip limitation” which minimises understeer commonly associated with front-driven vehicles while allowing quick and sensitive driver inputs.
Output figures for the B38 mill read 140bhp and 220Nm respectively, with the vital stats on the straights being 8.7 seconds (to 100kph) and 213kph (vmax). Truth be told, the 218i Gran Coupé M Sport impresses more on the efficiency front, with average economy rated at 5.9l/100km and CO2 emissions kept at a lowly 135g/km. Then again, its M Sport suspension and 18-inch M light alloy wheels will likely keep things engaging around the bends, even if the Malaysian-spec 2GC is somewhat lacking in brute force.
The list of M Sport equipment fitted to the most affordable saloon you can find in a local BMW showroom does not stop there. The exterior is tarted up with an M Aerodynamics package and the usual slew of M badges, while the Dakota leather-upholstered interior gets its steering wheel, door sills and pedals from the M parts bin as well. Some of the more practical features fitted to the 218i GC include front and rear collision prevention aids, a parking assistant with rear view camera and an 8.8-inch touch-sensitive infotainment with BMW Navigation, BMW Live Cockpit Plus and BMW ConnectedDrive.
If the G20 320i Sport still looks like a more appealing proposition to you at this point, the only thing left to sway that opinion is price. The 218i Gran Coupé M Sport will retail for RM211,367 on the road without insurance for as long as the 2020 sales tax exemption is still in effect, making it over RM30k cheaper than the most accessible 3er variant in Malaysia. To make matters more tempting, BMW Group Financial Services Malaysia is offering balloon financing plans that make it possible to own the new 2GC from RM2,418 a month (estimated based on 80 percent loan over five years).
It’s safe to say we’ll be seeing our fair share of 2GCs on Malaysian roads soon. The ball is now in Mercedes-Benz Malaysia’s court to further localise its compact offerings and level the playing field.