It’s time to end the speculation - we now know for certain that the next 2-series will be predominantly rear-wheel drive. BMW has confirmed the default layout for its incoming new-generation 2er, which has escaped the FWD/AWD fate of the new 1-series and 2-series Gran Coupe.
It’s done so by using the same ‘CLAR’ (Cluster Architecture) platform as the 3-series and 4-series, meaning the engine will still be longitudinally-mounted. Not as good as the 1er and 2er GC’s transverse layout when it comes to packaging, but far superior for entertainment value.
BMW is also promising a near-50:50 weight distribution, an “extremely torsionally stiff” shell, and “chassis technology consistently designed for agile and dynamic driving behaviour”. There is, however, a catch - as with the likes of the M340i and M440i, the range-topping M240i will only be available in ‘xDrive’ all-wheel drive form in the UK. A rear-drive version may join the range for other markets at a later date, although nothing’s been confirmed.
There won’t be a manual gearbox either, with the 369bhp ‘B58’ inline-six turbo engine driving all wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox exclusively. But hey, these days we’ll welcome the rare arrival of a brand new six-cylinder coupe with welcome arms, however its power is deployed.
Plus, a “rear-wheel oriented design” of the xDrive system is promised, making sure the “hallmark BMW driving pleasure” is delivered while also ensuring you don’t get spat into a hedge if getting too greedy with the throttle in poor conditions. As if to reassure us that skids will still be possible, some token oversteer shots are included in the press pack.
Further enhancing dynamics is a fully variable M rear differential that uses an electronic motor to lock up as required. From what we can gather, it’s the same one fitted to the M440i, which works rather well.
As for the practical stuff, you’re looking at a very specific (and “provisional”) 34.45mpg according to the WLTP cycle, and combined C02 emissions of 186k/km. Entry level rear-wheel drive models should start at about £30,000, and we’re expecting the M240i xDrive to be comfortably over £40,000 before options are added.
The main range should go on sale at some point in 2021, with a ~400bhp M2 joining the line-up next year.