If you're currently for the cheapest BMW saloon here in Malaysia, you'll find this - the BMW 218i Gran Coupe M Sport. By cheap, I mean you're willing to spend around RM210,000 for it. But is it really worth it?
Yes, it's called the Gran Coupe. Yes, it has four doors. Yes, it's an affordable BMW CKD model. But what makes it special? Starting with the looks, you can't deny the fact that it's catered to engage a younger demographic who's doing particularly well in life. Well, either them or their parents who are willing to splurge on their beloved children (or just themselves, because why not, right?)
Is it good-looking?
Being seen in one of these will certainly do wonders for your reputation or status, and judging by its sexy curves and very sporty stance, no one will even consider killing your vibes by stating that you bought the cheapest Beemer in the market. At least, not by judging how beautiful this thing looks.
In its stock state, the 218i is already a good-looking car, but when you pair it with this very gorgeous Storm Bay plus some M Performance parts, like this high-gloss black mesh kidney grilles (RM576), carbon fibre side mirror caps (RM4,234), carbon fibre exhaust pipe (RM1,711) and a black rear spoiler (RM2,070), it transforms the 218i into something that's even sexier in our opinion. But all of these come at a price, around RM8,600 extra. Worth it? Yes.
We also adore how great the BMW LaserLight and these 18-inch M Sport wheels look and bring the whole facade together.
The only downside to this is that the rims are wrapped with a set of Bridgestone Turanza Run-Flat tyres, which are VERY NOISY in nature, but less headache in the long run since you don't really have to worry about them blowing up into pieces and leaving you stranded by the side of the road.
The sides and rear are also very good looking in our eyes, apart from this bar that ties the rear LED lights together, which looks kind of 'high class' but not very 'M Sport' compared to the rest of the car. Overall, we still think that the BMW 218i Gran Coupe M Sport is one-heck of a beautiful-looking saloon, especially its frameless doors. Although they look amazing, the sound it makes when you close them sounds more like a van.
How about power?
If you pop the hood, you'll find a 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engine that produces 140hp and 220Nm of torque. All that power is sent to the front wheels via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission, which translates to a 0-100kmh run in 8.7 seconds and a top speed of 213km/h.
Not the fastest, but it is very efficient. BMW claims that it can do as low as 5.9 litres/100km, but we weren't able to achieve that thanks to my slightly heavier foot.
Apart from being fuel-efficient, the 218i is also very agile in nature thanks to the brand's ARB technology and M Sport Suspension that help to control understeer. In our experience, you can feel that there's definitely some turbo lag going on, but when it does kick in, you'll definitely feel its power.
Overall, it is a decent engine for everyday drives, but I would always prefer to turn off the 'Stop & Start' function, as the very nature of this three-cylinder engine is quite rough.
Personally, I don't really prefer paddle shifters, but when a car looks this good, it would be great to have one if it makes any sense. But then again, if it's power that you want and money is not an option, you can get the BMW M2 Competition. But that will cost you over RM626,000 big ones.
What about the interior?
Once inside the cabin, you'll be greeted with the M leather steering wheel, BMW Live Cockpit Plus which consist of this 8.8-inch infotainment touchscreen and a 5.5-inch meter display
There's a place for you to wirelessly charge your smartphone, which is also the place for you to place the BMW Digital Key if you don't have your key fob with you. If your phone doesn't have that capability, you can also charge it using some of the USB ports found in the front and back, as well as a 12V socket.
The cabin definitely looks modern thanks to sharp angles and lines, and the presence of the ambient light definitely kicks things up a notch (although they're not that bright during daytimes).
Some folks might think that this whole setup with the radio and dual-zone climate controls are a bit much, but we personally think that it looks just nice. Not too much, not too basic, still very premium despite being BMW's cheapest four-door saloon.
Its Dakota leather-wrapped seats certainly points towards the opposite direction. Very nice. It's no Nappa or Merino, but still quite plush and comfortable for long-distance and everyday driving.
Sitting at the rear is also quite comfortable, judging by all the feedback I've received while driving my family around. Personally, I think it's spacious for someone my size and height, but anyone exceeding 180cm might feel a bit cramped, especially with headroom.
The rear boot comes with 'Comfort Access' which you can easily open by stretching your foot under the car. It'll automatically open, but there were one or two occasions where it didn't. But most often than not, the auto boot release works fine.
Its two-level bootspace is very decent where you'll get 430 litres to store your stuff. But you still need to close it manually. Not a complaint, just stating the fact.
Is it safe?
As for safety, the 218i Gran Coupe comes with specs like:
- Front and rear collision prevention aids
- Parking assistant with rear view camera
- Lane Departure Warning with steering intervention
- Blind Spot Monitoring + more
They all work very well, particularly the Lane Departure Warning, which really pulls you back into the middle of the lane rather than just a slight nudge. I find that the system works well, even in the corners. A huge plus point from me.
At the end of the day, we think that the BMW 218i Gran Coupe looks really, really great, ONLY if you spend some extras for the M Performance Parts seen on this particular unit. The engine performs fairly well despite some minor setbacks, and it's hard not to get noticed when you pull up to your usual hangout spot.
And you have to get it in Storm Gray because compared to other manufacturers who offer more or less the same colour scheme, we personally believe that BMW got the tones and shades just right. It's youthful, fresh, sexy, and won't burn too big of a hole in your wallet if you're into new Beemers.