Following on from my girl’s eye review of the BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer last week, here’s my fiancé with his thoughts…
I’ve always rather liked BMWs.
As a child in the 1980s, to me they epitomised the idea of what you drove if you were successful. A family friend had a BMW that was immaculate, and it felt like you were being chauffeur-driven when you were in it. Then, James Bond had some fun in a Z3 in Goldeneye and I was obsessed with wanting one. I was gutted when as a 20-year-old I asked my Dad if he’d buy me one if he won the lottery. “Nope,” he answered. “You would wrap it around a tree.”
And that was the end of that. An old lady we knew gave me her Peugeot 106 when she became too old to drive and I was happy with my lot. It was an automatic, and while, like its former owner, it was senior in years, and its white paint had become faded and rusty, the fridge, (as she was affectionately known), did me well until a door fell off on the South Circular and I paid a scrap man to take her away.
The BMW 2 series Gran Tourer is clever. Not just because of all the gadgets and kit, but because of what it is. It rather perfectly straddles the people-carrier market, with all the space and seating configurations, while driving like it’s a saloon. Driving it with no passengers in it, you don’t get that the feeling you’d get in a people carrier of being a bus driver on the way back to the depot.
Automatics are wonderful things, especially while queuing in traffic, but the BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer has the added option of switching to manual gears by either using the gear stick or paddle gears on the steering wheel. I’d never used paddle gears before and was keen to try them out. A little bit of hillside terrain in the heart of Somerset proved the perfect place to try them, and the 2 Series handled perfectly. It took a while to get used to not putting my foot on the clutch, but after that it was hard to think about going back to driving the car as a plain automatic.
Of course I did, especially when reviewing the Gran Tourer in town and on the motorway. Even in terms of the engine size, the BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer feels quick. Very quick. Overtaking or pulling onto the motorway is as easy as it ever could be. It’s always nice to experience that in an automatic, but the sudden feeling of power from under the engine is rather special in this car.
It’s not just inside the bonnet that’s stylish either. The BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer interior is very comfortable and the driver’s features are useful. I particularly liked the pop-up, see-through screen at the bottom of the windscreen that gave all the most relevant information without having to take your eyes off the road. Not only does it stop you straying above the speed limit (awkward cough), but also it shows your next satnav direction, the track your listening to on the entertainment system and what telephone number is calling you if the phone rings.
As a big music fan, BMW’s relationship with Spotify makes the entertainment system rather special, and having hooked up my phone, my account’s playlists, artwork, and play history were all synced. The HD display acts as the hub for the telephone, sat nav, radio and entertainment system, and I loved that the mouse for entering information was also touch sensitive, meaning that you could draw letters and numbers into the computer for ease and speed.
Over a couple of weeks, the BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer has become a rather vital part of the family, displaying itself perfectly as van, people carrier, rally car, family saloon, and office, as well as temporarily fooling me into believing that I’m successful. I didn’t wrap it around a tree, thank goodness, but the thirst for a Z4 (or similar) is back and as strong as ever.
Bond. James Bond.
We were loaned the BMW 2 Series Gran Tourer for about three weeks for the purposes of this review, but all opinions are our own.