BMW is adding a less expensive version of the to its US portfolio, according to a CarsDirect report published earlier this week. Priced at $36,695 including $995 for destination, the entry-level 228i Gran Coupe is $2,000 cheaper heading into 2021. But there’s more to it than that.
This new 2 Series variant will use front-wheel drive, while the other Gran Coupes get BMW’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system. BMW is a company that historically touted the benefits of rear-drive setups, so the addition of a front-wheel-drive offering is seen as heretical by some purists — especially since the two-door 2 Series models are still based on an older, rear-drive platform. Of course, BMW has offered FWD for years on its, but that doesn’t seem to bother people as much. Anyway.
The front-drive 2021 228i Gran Coupe is already displaying on BMW’s US consumer site. Aside from the number of driven wheels, it’s mechanically identical to the 228i xDrive Gran Coupe, meaning it uses a 2.0-liter turbocharged I4 engine with 228 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, paired with an 8-speed automatic transmission. BMW will continue to offer the more powerful with all-wheel drive only.
The standard 228i is slightly more efficient than the xDrive version, with EPA fuel economy ratings of 24 miles per gallon city, 33 mpg highway and 28 mpg combined. The 228i xDrive, meanwhile, is rated at 23 mpg city, 33 mpg highway and 27 mpg combined.
A lower-cost, front-wheel-drive 2 Series Gran Coupe could certainly appeal to folks who don’t need the added capability of all-wheel drive. Mercedes-Benz, for example, offers both front- and all-wheel-drive versions of its subcompact A-Class and CLA-Class sedans for this very reason. And nobody seems to freak out about that.