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The 2020 BMW 2 Series Six-Speed Base Model Is A Future Classic

A Melbourne Red Metallic BMW 230i Coupe from my Build-And-Price fantasies
A Melbourne Red Metallic BMW 230i Coupe from my Build-And-Price fantasies
Graphic: BMW

With all the recent yammering over BMW’s design-decline into self-parody, I had to head over to the automaker’s website to see what an M4 goes for these days. But instead, I immediately got distracted spec’ing out a non-M 2 Series. Now I want one.

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In today’s era of used Honda Civics selling for $50,000, I say with confidence: a well-kept, manual-transmission rear-drive 2020 BMW 230i Coupe is going to be coveted 20 years from today.

It’s no asphalt-assaulting M monster... which is actually good because this means the car’s not going to be punishingly stiff and noisy. It is, however, a conceptual callback to BMWs of the early ’90s that enthusiasts can’t get enough of. This is as close as you can get to a 1991 BMW 325is in the automaker’s current catalog, which makes it appealing to me, as a fan of both classic sport luxury cars and modern automotive safety features.

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A sparsely optioned 2020 230i has a simple interface with two big round main gauges, rear-wheel drive, a manual transmission, manual hand brake, and tidy proportions.

The 2.0-liter TwinPower engine’s modest by modern BMW standards but when you look at the specs objectively: 248 horsepower/258 lb-ft of torque, turbo, variable valve control, there’s a lot of good shit in there!

The car’s curb weight’s a little higher than you might like at just under 3,400 pounds, (an E30 was more like 2,500 pounds) but that’s pretty slim compared to many current model-year cars. For context, a 2020 Supra weighs about the same, except this BMW actually has a usable back seat.

BMW claims a 0 to 60-mph time of 5.5 seconds with the manual transmission option, which seems just fine to me. That’s, like, stock FD RX-7 territory. It sure felt fast in 1995, at least.

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Did I mention that the lack of carbon fiber decorations and the letter “M” makes the vehicle look quite friendly and pleasant?

Black SensaTec with red stitching upholstery plus black high gloss trim with Coral Red matte accent kind of creates a lowkey performance-looking cockpit
Black SensaTec with red stitching upholstery plus black high gloss trim with Coral Red matte accent kind of creates a lowkey performance-looking cockpit
Graphic: BMW
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For $37,590, about $20,000 less than an M2 Competition, I spec’d this 230i coupe in the lovely Melbourne Red Metallic ($500 premium), picked the seats with red stitching (no-cost option), added a Coral Red piece of trim to the dash to tie in with the paint (also a free option), stuck with the base 17-inch wheels, selected the three-pedal transmission, which didn’t cost me anything either, and splurged for heated seats, a heated steering wheel, and a moonroof.

Goodness. Perfection!

I’d tint those fog lights yellow, find some nice same-size wheels for the car, maybe do black vinyl on the roof, and call it done
I’d tint those fog lights yellow, find some nice same-size wheels for the car, maybe do black vinyl on the roof, and call it done
Graphic: BMW
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Without expecting to, I’d pretty much built a car right out of my dream journal. Modern, but modest. Convenient, but minimal frills. Just a nice, sporty, daily drivable car with great fuel economy and plenty of tire sidewall that I could shift myself.

I think this is a lot of car for the coin, even though I’m too much of a tightwad to take the plunge and get a car loan myself. Still, I can’t deny that I’m tempted. Especially since simple, fun, modern cars are only getting harder to find with the optimal quantity of pedals and drive wheels.

Jalopnik Staffer from 2013 to 2020, now Editor-In-Chief at Car Bibles

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DISCUSSION

I thought the same thing about the e82 manual with naturally aspirated N52 straight 6, but I dont think reality matched my expectations. Lose the six for a turbo 4 and I cant imagine how this newer 2 would fair any better.