Although not as economical as we would have thought just by taking BMW's word on it, the two-liter 170 horsepower engine is pretty much all that you'd want from a modern engine. Speaking of fuel economy, we averaged 10.4 liters per 100 kilometers (US 22.6 mpg) during the whole period in which we drove the car. Taking into account the fact that we didn't quite drove in a very economical fashion the whole time and the time we spent in the city was full of sudden accelerations followed by stops, we think that's a pretty good number for a normally aspirated and high-revving two-liter engine.
Not even close to the 6.6 liters (US 35.6 mpg) BMW was apparently expecting, but pretty good nonetheless, especially given the conditions. What we really liked about it were the BMW DNA traits which, minus a few, are still present even in a modern Bavarian engine. The lack of low end grunt is compensated by the minor storm coming right after you pass 3500-4000 rpm.
Fitted with direct injection and BMW's Valvetronic system, the power plant also sadly managed to disappoint us in the "hi fi department". Especially with the top down, the four-banger sounds way too antithetic to the oldschool Bavarian inline engines. We don't know if it's the lack of two more cylinders or the direct injection, but it was probably the first petrol engine from Munich to not sound like it's supposed to. Okay, maybe the dying cat comment earlier on is a bit too much, but it still didn't tickle our hearing in a very good way.
The six speed manual transmission does its job pretty well, although we would have preferred if it was more of a short shift, considering the fast-revving nature of the engine. Also, its gearing was a bit on the tall side, with more fuel-friendly than acceleration-friendly ratios.Continue reading