Car review: Entry-level sedan costs less, but stays true to BMW DNA

Topics BMW | BMW Group

Because of its compact size and shape (it's smaller than the Honda City), it's also very practical, and finding parking and spots to squeeze into is a cinch
How do you get people to buy your car when excise duties and high pricing render the retail cost much higher than what it would otherwise sell for? One way is to launch entry-level cars that start at the bottom of the price scale, and hope customers will keep trading up. That's something that BMW has tinkered with in the past as well.

In 2010, it launched its Corporate Edition 3 Series for some Rs 24 lakh, which was around Rs 10 lakh cheaper than the regular 3 Series. But the catch was that it came without bells and whistles and led some to question whether the car-maker had gone too far with the decontenting blade. After all, at the time a customer could have easily opted for cars such as the Skoda Superb, which were larger, roomier, had more features and were priced similarly.

But the Bavarian car-maker was betting on the allure of its badge. The gambit worked and the cars sold out. They were later discontinued.

Sometime in 2013, BMW again experimented with entry-level cars and launched its 1 Series, a premium hatch that sold for above Rs 30 lakh. It was introduced amid much fanfare with cricket legend Sachin Tendulkar launching and endorsing it.
While the 1 Series was also discontinued, the luxury category of cars has seen all the players experiment with small “entry-level cars” at some point in time or the other.

Mercedes Benz launched the A Class, which was removed after a few years, and Audi brought in the Q3 SUV that is smaller and cheaper than the rest of its stablemates.

The fundamental question is always this: Does a cheaper luxury car mean that it's a cheap car?

In the case of the 2 Series that I drove, the answer is a definitive no. That's because at around Rs 40 lakh the smallest sedan of BMW is almost as expensive as larger three box cars and, therefore, hardly cheap.

Second, step inside the 2 Series and there's no evidence of any decontenting or dilution of what constitutes premium German motorcars. The interiors are plush and replete with high-quality materials, leather and fittings, that include a thick meaty, steering wheel, a sunroof, perfect positioning of driving seat and a compact, well-designed cockpit.

The version of the 2 Series that I drove came with the 190hp diesel engine and is also present in the 3 Series, although tuned differently. It's refined and performs well at low speeds, and when you hit the mid-range of the car's range of performance, it is at its best. That is to say it feels nice and loaded with torque, nimble and easy to handle on city streets.

Because of its compact size and shape (it's smaller than the Honda City), it's also very practical, and finding parking and spots to squeeze into is a cinch. As far as diesel engines go, the BMW has always delivered on the refinement index, and with this modern and new eight-speed gearbox, this is a winning combination for any car lover to have in one drivetrain.

Beyond the tech and toys that include rear parking assistant and more, the car is, despite its size, fun to drive. The ride quality allows for sporty yet comfortable driving.

The big question: Is the 2 Series worth the money? For those who've always wanted to drive a BMW in India, the 2 Series is easily the most fun to drive everyday car that money can buy, and at no point does it feel untrue to its BMW DNA. Of course, the price may be what a 3 Series cost a few years ago, which may lead you to believe that this may replace the 3 Series. That's simply not going to happen.

Meanwhile, those who care about reducing the starting price of cars to a point where they actually feel like entry-level vehicles, putting together a forum would be a good idea.

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