BMW 216i Gran Coupe Review: Entry-Level Doesn't Mean Economy Class

BMW 216i Gran Coupe Review: Entry-Level Doesn't Mean Economy Class

James Wong
James Wong
29 Aug 2022
The 216i GC uses a 1.5-litre 3-cylinder turbo that’s so adept at sipping fuel, it attracts a S$15,000 VES rebate and sits attractively in Cat A.

Hot off the stellar performance of the M235i Gran Coupe demonstrated during the BMW M Experience Day 2022, the potentially sharp contrast between the aforementioned range topper and the range junior in the 216i Gran Coupe (216i GC) was not lost on me while I dialled down my expectations several notches.

However, I realised I didn’t need to. The fundamental ‘rightness’ of the M-festooned big brother was also present in the 216i GC, especially when it comes to handling and ride. There is an innate balance in the car that made a loud statement for a different sort of BMW to what we’re accustomed to believe is the ‘best’ - one that is front-wheel drive (FWD), but also fun to drive. There’s no denying that it is one of the most agile and well-sorted FWDs out there, even as an entry-level model.

The 216i GC uses a 1.5-litre 3-cylinder turbo that’s so adept at sipping fuel, it attracts a S$15,000 VES rebate and sits attractively in Cat A. Its modest 109 hp output is less important than its 190 Nm figure that peaks from 1,380-3,800 rpm. That makes the 216i GC a perfect city dweller, affording reasonable efficiency while being guilt-free to run. Like all 3-cylinders it is inherently unbalanced, but it does give the car a chirpy character that’s more refreshing than fundamentally smoother engines.

Inside, the interior architecture is more or less in keeping with the 1-Series, and like all BMWs of this generation quality and ergonomics are rather top-notch. It isn’t devoid of features either - BMW’s OS 7 is operated via two large 10.25-inch screens that offer pretty much all of the technology you’d want without being too complicated to operate. Even rear passengers get some niceties like rear AC vents and two USB-C charging ports.

The Driving Assistant package is also fitted as standard so you get the usual gamut of the Lane Change Warning system, rear collision warning and crossing traffic warning, among others. The car can even park itself and then automatically reverse out of a tricky parking lot it entered in. The 216i GC is not a big car to begin with but having all of these is a bonus especially when visibility from the cockpit is not great with the coupe-like roofline.

Speaking of four-door coupes, the 216i GC, at least to my eyes, is not a particularly attractive one. The whole car just seems to stretch vertically a little too much, so it looks less comfortable in its skin than it should.

But if you could accept its looks or even love them, as well as not be too bothered about a FWD BMW that’s already a mainstay these days, the 216i GC is hardly an entry-level BMW from the driving perspective, even though it may be priced as such.

In Summary

What we like:
pros
Good ride, handling and a peppy engine manages to elevate this from merely adequate.
What we dislike:
cons
Could have more confidence with its looks. Some may not accept a FWD car as a BMW.


Verdict

More dynamic than you think, less plain than you expect.

Credits: Text by James Wong; Photos by Horizon Drivers' Club

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