Model names (actually numbers) for BMW’s entry-level series have changed for 2017, to conform with newer, slightly more powerful turbocharged engines. What was the 228i is now the 230i. The new four-cylinder engine is meant to reduce emissions while boosting performance.

Pricing and Equipment

Prices for the 230i starts at $34,145 (destination charge included) for the coupe. Picking the convertible raises the outlay to $39,945. BMW’s xDrive all-wheel drive adds $2,000 to each 230i model.

BMW’s new turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine delivers 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque. Either a six-speed manual gearbox or an eight-speed automatic transmission may be installed. Rear-drive is standard; all-wheel drive an option. The manual transmission is not offered with all-wheel drive.

A Track Handling Package is available. BMW also offers an M240i coupe and convertible (listed separately) with a turbocharged, inline six-cylinder engine.

The 230i coupe includes:

  • Sensatec leatherette upholstery
  • Automatic climate control
  • Seven-speaker, 205-watt audio with HD radio
  • Bluetooth connectivity
  • Power front-seat bolsters (manual adjustment)
  • Keyless ignition
  • 17-inch alloy wheels

Performance Pros

BMW 230
  • Arguably provides the level of driving excitement for which BMW has long been known – a trait that isn’t quite as evident with the current 3- or 4-Series.
  • Spirited acceleration makes the 2-Series more tempting to enthusiasts.
  • Quite decent fuel economy, EPA-estimated at 24 miles per gallon city, 35 highway, 28 mpg combined with the automatic transmission and rear-drive.
  • Beautifully balanced and fun to drive – even better with the optional sport suspension. Roadholding ranks as simply stellar.

Performance Cons

  • Ride quality slips downward if the optional Track Handling Package is installed. It includes an adaptive M suspension, variable sport steering, M Sport brakes, Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires on 18-inch wheels, and slightly lowered ride height. Otherwise, there’s little to complain about how the 2-Series performs.

Interior Pros

  • Cabin looks modern, but with a restrained aura.
  • For a sport coupe, the 230i is impressively spacious. Front seats have plenty of room in each direction, with abundant adjustments for the positions of both the seat and the steering wheel.
  • An “Easy Entry” function makes it easier to enter and depart from the back seat. This feature is even more helpful for the convertible, which has a narrower rear seat.

Interior Cons

  • Snug back seat is more spacious than the old 1-Series, but falls way short on comfort for some adult body sizes.
  • All told, the interior comes across as a bit low-budget. The 230i dashboard is similar to that of the 3-Series, but scaled-down in size.

The Most Pleasant Surprise

This has to be the overall feel of BMW’s long-vaunted “driving excitement,” recalling some stimulating smaller two-door models of the past.

The Least Pleasant Surprise

The 230i isn’t as fully equipped as some rivals, likely prompting a session with the option list to acquire a few luxuries such as leather seating, and even a rearview camera. Considering the 230i’s price, such items should probably be standard. At least, a reasonably-priced option group can add some contemporary active-safety features.

The Bottom Line

Gracefully sporty on the outside, the 230i is indisputably German in design and in detail work. Still, it’s what’s inside that counts, and the smallest two-door BMW stands ready to deliver a motoring experience that’s wholly contemporary, but with its roots stretching back toward the “classic” sport coupe period.