2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe: What Is This FWD-Based Sedan Actually Like To Drive?

It shares a platform with the X1 and X2 crossovers

This four-door 2 Series moves away from its RWD roots.

Meet the latest entry-level sedan from Bavaria: the 2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe. With this, BMW is taking direct aim at the Mercedes-Benz CLA in attracting younger, style-driven buyers into the brand. It goes on sale early next year, but before that Tommy had the opportunity to drive a pre-production version during a brand-wide media event in South Carolina, for which BMW flew us down. The 2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe borrows much from its small crossover and overseas hatchback siblings, but what is it actually like to drive?

BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe

Unlike BMW sedans of yesteryear, this new 2 Series Gran Coupe is actually front-wheel drive-based. Instead of looking at this as a scaled down 3 Series, say, this car takes its platform from the FWD-biased X1 and X2 crossovers as well as the 1 Series hatchback. You can see the shift in drivetrain toward the front in the car’s proportions, as the 2 Series Gran Coupe has a higher-riding stance than its lower-slung rear-wheel drive siblings. Still, BMW says that these xDrive models should provide the same all-wheel drive experience we’re accustomed too in other models.

BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe

The 2020 BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe will launch in two versions. On the entry-level end, there’s the 228i xDrive with a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine. That version makes 228 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque — the same power you’d see in an X1 or X2. The hotter M235i xDrive version has a more powerful 2.0-liter unit, putting out 301 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque. Whichever version you pick, you get an eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.

BMW 2 Series Gran Coupe

Still all the tech you’d expect

While the M235i is no full-on M2, particularly as it’s not rear-wheel drive, it still has some sporty enhancements over the base model. Standard equipment includes a front limited-slip differential, M Sport suspension and brakes, 18-inch wheels and tires, and the standard M-ified badge and trim treatment you get in the stepping-stone models that aren’t quite full M cars.

Opt for the Shadow Line package, and BMW says the 2020 2 Series Gran Coupe M235i will sprint from 0-60 in 4.6 seconds. While we need to test the production version at a mile above sea level to see how it performs, that’s a respectable figure for an entry model. In practice, it feels closest to a Mini Clubman ALL4, and the John Cooper Works version does put out the same sort of power.

We’ll know more about the new 2 Series Gran Coupe when it debuts in Los Angeles. Stay tuned for that and more coverage — there’s going to be tons of it — of the 2019 LA Auto Show!