It may not be as powerful as its big brothers, but it is just as fun!
When BMW first unveiled the 218i Gran Coupe, many so-called purists and fanboys were quick to judge it by saying that it is not a "true" BMW, that it is a "chick's car" and whatnot just because it didn't come with a four-cylinder engine and didn't pack as much punch as its bigger siblings.
To be frank, even I was a bit skeptical since it was powered by a 1.5-litre three-cylinder engine (turbocharged of course) which appears to be inadequate compared to all the bigger BMWs' 2.0-litre twin power turbo mills, but as it turns out, the 218i Gran Coupe here is a pretty solid car.
So, the unit that we're looking at here is the updated version which was launched earlier this year, fitted with BMW's Live Cockpit Professional system and a larger 10.25-inch infotainment screen that replace the outgoing 5.5-inch central display and 8.8-inch Live Cockpit Plus analogue instrument panel.
Thanks to the larger screens and the new operating system, the price of the 218i Gran Coupe increased by about RM5,000 to RM221,817 (on the road with 5 years warranty and service package), which is slightly more than its direct rival, the Mercedes-Benz A 200 Sedan which asks for RM220,459.
Design wise, the 218i Gran Coupe has a low-slung roofline since it is a four-door coupe. Clad in M Sport bodykit, it comes with LED headlights, taillights, and fog lights, the frameless windows, as well as 18-inch M two-tone alloy wheels - all of which make the car look youthful, stylish and sporty, just like its target market.
It is also worth mentioning here that the boot is not there just for decoration, as it offers 430-litres of storage space.
After driving around the Klang Valley for a couple of days, I noticed that this car definitely turns heads towards itself and demands attention, but credit also goes to the bright red colour it comes in. Even the other colours it is offered in like the funky turquoise, black, and the flat grey, give the 218i Gran Coupe a bold look that appeals to all genders.
Moving into the cabin, four adults can sit comfortably inside, although head space comes at a premium at the rear due to the low roof. Besides that, the seats are all clad in leather, and in typical BMW fashion, they are firm.
The list of standard equipment includes keyless entry, push-button start, Dakota leather upholstery, illuminated Boston interior trim, 40:20:40 split-folding rear seats, auto-dimming mirrors, a reverse camera, park assist, as well as six speakers. Unfortunately, there is no wireless charging though.
The larger screens have definitely elevated the whole experience of being in the 218i Gran Coupe. Even though it doesn't look as flashy as the cabin of the A200, the 218i still feels premium and unmistakably BMW.
The only difference between this model and bigger models is that some of the materials used to make the buttons, switches, and levers, such as the ones around the iDrive controller in this car is not as "high-class" as the more expensive models like the 3 Series or the 5 Series.
Other than that, the 218i Gran Coupe is a very fun car to drive. While the chunky leather steering has a very nice feel to it, the power delivery is instant, and the chassis is built beautifully, resulting in a very sharp and responsive car that does whatever you expect it to do.
Yes, it is the least powerful BMW car in the range with only three cylinders, 140 hp and 220 Nm, but believe me when I say that it is anything but slow. In fact, this car is quicker and handles much better than a lot of cars out there on our roads.
To be more specific, it can sprint from 0 to 100 kph in 8.7 seconds and hit a top speed of 213 kph, so cruising well above the speed limit along highways could be done effortlessly.
Anyways, the moral of the story is that the 218i is a capable and fun car to drive, no doubt.
Another advantage of the 1.5-litre engine is that your road tax is cheap, and the car is quite fuel efficient with a claimed rating of 5.9-litres per 100 km.
So, in a nutshell, what we have here is a very capable car that also looks stylish. On the downside, it is not the most spacious car around and more power would definitely be better, but on the bright side, it looks good, drives damn well, and certainly turns heads towards you.
And looking at the number of units on the road, especially in the Klang Valley, the 218i Gran Coupe definitely deserves credit for bringing the BMW brand closer to younger customers with some money to spend.
- Engine: 1.5-litre, 3-cylinder, turbo
- Transmission: 7-speed automatic
- Max power: 140 hp at 4,500 rpm
- Max torque: 220 Nm at 1,500 rpm
- Top speed: 215 km/h
- 0 to 100 kph: 8.7 seconds
- Fuel consumption: 5.9l/100km
- Price: RM228,800