Like any modern BMW, the 2022 2 Series is a polarizing vehicle. As my colleague David said when he wrote about it a month ago, there are a few reasons for that. For one, it’s big — 3.5 inches longer, 2.6 inches wider and at least 100 pounds heavier (depending on trim) than the coupe it’s replacing. BMW is also nixing the manual.
But of course, the most questionable aspect of the new 2 is its exterior, which most of the Jalopnik staff thinks is all right, and I personally can’t stand.
Admittedly, the transgressions afoot here aren’t as overt as those on the M4. There’s no chipmunk kidney grille, and I don’t get the sense BMW modeled the face of its baby coupe after the nasal cavity of a skeleton. But the outgoing 2 Series was the only BMW I still aspired to own — the only one that felt as though it was in any way tied into the purposeful, understated, engineering-first nature of the brand. And I have to say I feel a bit vindicated in that sentiment, because Frank Stephenson — a dude who has designed BMWs — makes many points I wholeheartedly agree with in his latest video.
Frank’s review of the new 2 Series begins promisingly, as the X5 designer commends the return of a more traditional, wider kidney grille. That praise doesn’t last very long though, because he proceeds to tear apart the overwrought, confoundingly geometric nature of the front and rear, taking particular aim at the headlights.
Why are there so many angles and surfaces that have zero function to them? The angles around the inner part of the headlight where it comes toward the grille, they don’t relate to anything on the front end. They’re there for just design purpose. And they don’t really go anywhere — they sort of tend to start to go and stop. It’s circles and squares and triangles. They just don’t speak to each other.
In a word, it’s busy. And while the regular 2 Series sort of sits on that edge of overdesign for me personally, the M240i xDrive goes completely off the rails, with its straining jawline and even larger triangle cheeks that seem further out of place. The frivolous lines and shapes are all accentuated, amped up. Somebody’s gotta tell it to chill.
Frank also questions the mass of the coupe in profile and its excessively long hood. The old 2 looked light on its feet and didn’t take up any more space than it needed to; fans of the classic BMW performance cars of yore liked it for that. The new 2 is a brick, and the proportions don’t gel with what it’s ostensibly supposed to be, at least within BMW’s lineup.
As you look at the car from a perfect side view, there’s something gone wrong. The problem here is that I expect this car to probably have either a V12 or a V16 in the front. Because I swear, a bonnet that long is a little bit cartoonish on this vehicle here.
The designer concedes that the all-wheel-drive system could explain the length of the wheelbase. But then the old 2 was offered with all-wheel drive and it didn’t manage to look anywhere near as heavy, with its shorter hood and airier greenhouse.
At the end of the day, there are always going to be people who cry murder when designers take extreme risks. They’re paid to get attention, not make pretty things. I get that, and I don’t even think the new 2 is the ugliest BMW I’ve ever seen — it’s just disappointing, particularly compared to its predecessor.
But taking risks in and of itself isn’t a virtue. If it was, the Accord Crosstour would’ve been celebrated, not banished from our collective consciousness. Purpose, thoughtfulness and measured approaches are important; they’re what separate great design from everything else, especially these days when ANGRY and BIG are the defining characteristics of modern cars.
But enough of me and my soapbox. What say you? Am I full of shit? More importantly, do you agree or disagree with Frank’s takes here?