Although the BMW 2 Series bears some resemblance to its 1 Series predecessor, the coupe is fully redesigned. Up front, the signature twin kidney grille is surrounded by wraparound headlamps and a wide lower air intake that makes it look more assertive than cute.
From the side, the 2 Series loses the 1 Series' saggy lower line created by its droopy rocker panels. Instead, the 2 Series gets a virtual sheet metal tummy tuck, with a sharp, straight rocker panel and an upward-curving character line that flows into the rear wheel arches. An upper line running from the front fender, through the door handles and into the rear decklid is straight and sharp.
The rear is clean and simple, with just the tiniest hint of shelfy-ness that seems to be fading out with the post-Bangle era. Wraparound tail lamps and hood cut lines are very straight and horizontal. We also like that the M235i places its dual exhaust pipes one on each side, giving it a symmetrical look.
Color availability depends on model. The broadest palette is found on the 228i, with unique choices like Valencia Orange, Sparkling Brown metallic and Midnight Blue metallic. Shade choices are narrower for the M235i, and include whites, greys and black, plus the beautiful dark Melbourne Red and the bright Estoril Blue found on other M Sport models in the 3- and 4 Series lineups.
The look and quality of cabin materials vary depending on the model and options. Layout and organization of the controls, as with all BMWs, are clean, simple and intuitive. On cars with navigation, the wide screen sits atop the dash, which makes for very good visibility, but it also looks as if it could be an aftermarket unit stuck on top. Dual air vents, audio and temperature controls sit below, including a wide row of preset buttons, which can serve as shortcuts to navigation destinations and other functions, as well being traditional satellite and radio station markers.
On the center console, the newest iteration of the iDrive button is located on the right side within easy reach. A traditional parking brake sits to the left. To the fore of the gearshift are two side-by-side cupholders. The center armrest offers a moderate amount of storage, and is where iPhones and other mobile devices can be plugged in and stowed.
Front seats are comfortable, and offer adequate support. Aggressive side bolstering on the seatbacks and cushions keep driver and passenger firmly in place around corners. Faux leather, dubbed Sensatec, is standard. Our M235i test car was outfitted with optional Dakota leather, but it seemed hard and waxy in black. If other BMW models are any indication, we'd say the Coral Red leather most likely looks best, although we didn't see an example in person.
Backseat space is expectably snug for a coupe, but is fine for occasionally carrying average-sized adults on short trips. Legroom measures 33 inches, about three inches less than in the larger 4 Series Coupe, and about 0.7 inches shy of the outgoing 3 Series Coupe. Plenty of toe- and foot room under the front seat helps to mitigate a cramped feeling. Headroom is 36.8 inches, about on par with the 4 Series and the old 3 Series Coupe. A rear center console has cupholders for added convenience. When not carrying backseat passengers, the armrest folds down, revealing a pass-through slot for long items.
Cargo space measures 13.8 cubic feet, less than the 15.7 cubes in the 4 Series Coupe, but more than the old 3 Series Coupe and even the 2013 Audi A5 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class coupes. Rear seats are split 60/40 and fold down for increased space.
We only saw one example of the 228i coupe in person, and were disappointed to find the interior looks entry-level. The plastic surrounding the instrument cluster and in the center console seems cheap. The abundance of hard, plain plastics in the cabin is especially noticeable in tan. M235i models look more upscale, but still suffer from some of the same maladies. On both models, the trim on the sweeping armrest/door handle looks stuck-on. Sun visors are also very thin, and the corners bend like cardboard when one is unhooked from its latch. On the M235i, we prefer the optional Brushed Aluminum interior configuration with accents in black gloss trim over the default Aluminum Hexagon trim, which includes metallic blue metal inserts that can look garish in certain color combinations.
How much you care about these details may depend on how much you're spending on the car. At $33,000, BMW's interior execution isn't unconscionable. But with our test car topping out at nearly $50k, we expect better.