The vaunted BMW brand fills just about any niche an auto buyer might desire. In fact, the selections and names take a bit of research to insure you’re selecting the right one for your needs.
BMW’s latest offering is the 2020 228i x-Drive Gran Coupe. In this case the GC signifies it’s a 4-door version of the 2-door 228i – but not a hatchback trunk like the 4-series Gran Coupe. Yet for an entry-level high-line car, the 228i hardly feels like a bare bones model. It still packs some fun driving chops one expects from Bavarian Motor Works.
It makes good marketing sense to draw customers towards a comparative budget ride in the BMW line to hopefully keep them in the family as their wallet capabilities expand over time.
The 2020 228i Gran Coupe is unmistakably a BMW in the front with its double-kidney grilles, LED headlights and sporty air scoop fascia. Unique Storm Bay Metallic paint is gorgeous in the sunlight. The silhouette side and rear possess a bit of the BMW DNA but is targeting a probable first-time buyer in the lineup, meaning not one fretting about BMW initiating a front-wheel drive based sedan (the x-Drive option is all-wheel drive).
Attractive taillights, the BMW roundel, dual chrome exhausts and 18” sport rims on all-weather run flat tires complete an overall pleasing sporty appearance.
Here’s where it gets interesting. The 228i shares the same front-wheel drive platform as its Mini sibling. Mini has shown since 1959 that FWD can be fun to scoot around town. Again, this might not matter for first time BMW customers on a budget and the standard all-wheel x-Drive delivers excellent handling and traction (and zero FWD torque steer). The ride is nimble and quick for the turbocharged 2.0 liter four-cylinder 228-horses/258 lb.ft torque. I found it hits the corners well and in Sport mode delivers ample acceleration (0-60 in 5.1 seconds). Thus, like any Bimmer you need to put it through the paces to appreciate its driving characteristics and feedback.
Handling is sure and sporty with BMW’s legendary 50/50 balanced chassis and lightweight chassis. Brakes stop in quick fashion. Sport mode is what I loved the most. It’s plenty responsive without jarring passengers or roughing out the ride. Even the exhaust note is pleasing.
Gas mileage is a commendable 23/33 and I squeezed 27mpg overall while pushing it hard with premium fuel. The 480 miles gas range is excellent for this segment.
The cocoon is unmistakably a BMW with its clean design and easy to navigate controls.
Visibility is good for such a smallish ride and the rear-view camera is exceptional. Heated front seats are comfortable and supportive in SensaTec black leather. Even the panel materials are soft to the touch – hardly budget feeling.
The steering wheel has a great feel and the heated option is welcome in cold weather. It includes multimedia and upscale paddle shifters for easy access. All controls are driver-bias and easy to access via the iDrive control knob with its lovely tactile feedback. The instrumentation is clear and the Heads Up display shows Navigation directions and speed limit warnings which is helpful as you’re barreling down the road.
Back seat room is surprisingly comfortable (I’m 5’11”) with room for my knees. But sitting in the middle could be problematic on long trips.
There’s decent storage for your knickknacks and the trunk is a commendable 15.1 cu-ft. of cargo space for your clubs (the folding rear seats are an added bonus). A worthy Premium package ($4,750) includes heated steering wheel (a fav of mine), ambient lighting, Panoramic roof, lumbar support, adaptive Full LED headlights, Comfort access keyless entry and Sirius/XM for 1 year. The Connected Package Pro includes the BMW app to remotely lock/unlock your car, Stolen Vehicle Recover, Concierge Services check on maintenance and even sends pictures where its parked. A handy full 360-degree parking assistance is available for $200.
BMW offers some of the best displays I’ve seen. The fonts are perfect and easy to read even with aging peepers. An updated 10.25” infotainment screen is pleasing to the eye and simple to navigate through various radio formats and audio inputs. You can even see what songs are playing as you scroll thru the satellite channels. Eight preset buttons can be used for radio stations, phone numbers and frequently accessed menu items.
You can stream mp3 and download various apps Spotify. Wi-Fi hotspot and Apple CarPlay is available (Android Auto is ready in 2021). Wireless mobile charging is a worthy buy at $500. A Dynamic Handling package ($700) delivers M-Sport blue painted brake calipers and extended Shadowline trim for a sportier appearance.
Options include premium Harman/Kardon audio ($875) and Driver Assistance ($200) And, don’t overlook the covered regularly scheduled maintenance for three years/36,000 miles.
The 2020 BMW 228i x-Drive Gran Coupe is a definite must drive when looking for a premium entry-level car that packs much of the famous BMW DNA. It delivers some real German driving kicks and luxury appointments for new younger BMW customers.
Golf Bags: Two with rear seats folded down
Curb Appeal: Attractive clean sporty presence
0-60: 5.1 sec
Mileage: 23/33. Observed 27 overall
Must-Haves: Premium package, Harmon Kardon audio
Warranty & Maintenance: 4yr/50K mile warranty & 3/36K scheduled maintenance
Base Price: $37,500
Price as Tested: $45,245
Who Buys It? Those wanting to dip their toes into the BMW brand
Finish Line: A worthy entry-level contender in the high-line category
Test-drive the 2020 BMW 228i x-Drive Gran Coupe at Classic BMW in Plano off Spring Creek and the Tollway.