2020 BMW 228i xDrive Gran Coupe burns up some good credit

On the day I paid attention in science class, “conservation of energy” resonated in my adolescent brain. Something about energy in a system remains constant—energy saved doing homework could be spent in other pursuits, I suppose.

Broadly applied to cars today, that theory would mean that for every standout on the road there must be at least one sub-standard model lurking. For every Camry, there’s a Cobalt. For every Accord, there’s an Allante. (At least, I wish there were.)

Galileo may look at BMW’s lineup and find hits like the X3 and X5. His gaze may then turn to the new 2020 BMW 228i xDrive Gran Coupe.

If we fast-forward past his initial shock (“What do you mean, geocentric satellites are directly accessible by your…smartphone?”) I think his clever science idea would largely hold up.

I can’t put my finger on what genus the 228i fits into, but I know the family: “How much do I need to spend to get a luxury car?” That’s my family.

Our 6.0 TCC Rating for the 2020 BMW 2-Series is based on the Gran Coupe, despite the coupe and convertible sticking around for a while longer. (The coupe and convertible are not related to the Gran Coupe and, in my opinion, are better cars for it.)

A week spent in the 2020 228i revealed a few things, and some of them weren’t great. Let’s discuss.

 

Hit: Batting .750

The geometric shapes in the low nose and rising body lines of the 228i look great. Compared to the Mercedes-Benz CLA Class, I prefer BMW’s nose and sides—even the lights. In profile, the shape still holds up, even though the rear door cutouts are small and space over the rear wheel is wasted compared to the rest of the car.

2020 BMW 228i xDrive Gran Coupe

Miss: Not booty-ful

That back isn’t great. In direct sunlight, the lip on the rear trunk casts a long shadow over the tail that rises too much, too fast, for no good reason. It looks like a cyclist’s cap with an upturned bill and not in good ways.

 

2020 BMW 228i xDrive Gran Coupe

2020 BMW 228i xDrive Gran Coupe

Miss: Thin isn’t in

BMW’s typically solid construction has gone a long way for a long time. The doors thunked closed like a bank vault, the surfaces were sturdy like butcher’s blocks, and column stalks clicked in and out like a bolt-action rifle. By contrast, the 228i’s doors close with all of the confidence of a thin dryer door. The materials inside feel less structurally sound than a thoroughbred racehorse. When something breaks, I’m not sure you won’t have to put the rest of the car down. That’s a shame.

2020 BMW 228i xDrive Gran Coupe

2020 BMW 228i xDrive Gran Coupe

Miss: Ride you like a hurricane

Admittedly, newer BMWs aren’t bastions for serene rides. Large wheels, stiff suspensions, and run-flat tires all work against a calm ride, but the 228i’s ride is more anxious than a Border Collie around fireworks. The wheels can crash on small road imperfections and the steering can become tiresome.

2020 BMW 228i xDrive Gran Coupe

2020 BMW 228i xDrive Gran Coupe

Hit: Power move

There are a few bright spots, and the 228’s power is one of them. The base engine is a 2.0-liter turbo-4 that makes 228 horsepower shifted through an 8-speed automatic. All-wheel drive is standard for now, although front-wheel drive is almost certainly in the cards and will cost less. The all-wheel-drive system is competent, and although BMW’s history is in rear-wheel-drive sedans, the 228i’s front-biased propulsion is just fine.

2020 BMW 228i xDrive Gran Coupe

2020 BMW 228i xDrive Gran Coupe

Miss: Fuel economy isn’t great

The EPA rates the 228i at 27 mpg combined, but for more than 150 miles in combined driving, I struggled to manage more than 25 mpg. That’s acceptable among small, luxury sedans, but not by much. By contrast, my 12-year old 3-Series manages 24 mpg combined from a much larger turbo inline-6.

2020 BMW 228i xDrive Gran Coupe

2020 BMW 228i xDrive Gran Coupe

Hit: Ergonomics

For a small car, the BMW 228i is space-efficient and mostly comfortable. While I have gripes with the seats and seating position, the leather is soft and the buttons are easy to find.

The news isn’t all bad but at nearly $48,000 as tested, the BMW 228i doesn’t appear interested in carrying the torch for BMW’s history at making great small sedans. For that much, a base X3 or 3-Series is a better buy.

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2020 BMW 228i xDrive Gran Coupe

Base price: $38,495, including destination

Price as tested: $47,845

Drivetrain: 228-horsepower, 2.0-liter turbo-4, 8-speed automatic, all-wheel drive

EPA fuel economy: 23/33/27 mpg

The hits: Good looks, good power, logical interior

The misses: Poor ride, lackluster fuel economy, thin-feeling materials, ungainly from some angles.

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