Chris V purchased this BMW 2 Series used for $45,000 (including all on-road costs) in 2018. Chris V would buy this car again because: “The 230i stands out as a unique blend of performance, comfort, decent practicality, efficiency and good looks! While I did not purchase the car initially, I took over ownership from my brother last year and am very happy with the all-rounder abilities of this daily driver. “
The 230i has been decently reliable over the span of five years. Although built in 2017, it was purchased in 2018 as a demonstrator with three years warranty and five years free servicing.
In its first year or so it developed a very loud squeal from the rear wheels when travelling (not necessarily braking) at low speeds. It took several visits to BMW to rectify the issue, but it has not returned since and never made the car undriveable.
Last year at 48,000km, when I pulled into the driveway after work I noticed a heap of steam exiting the engine. Looking up the road from my house revealed a trail of coolant that had decided to exit the party then and there.
After getting towed, it took BMW Sydney no offer of a loan car, two weeks for a service manager to return my call, and three weeks total to repair what ended up being a split coolant hose running from the expansion tank into the cylinder head.
BMW initially quoted $1100 (for an $80 part!) for this repair but covered half of the cost under goodwill after some negotiating. This is apparently a known fault of this engine and has even been recalled in the US, but nowhere else. Shame.
While that does sound like a negative experience, the car has been otherwise fault free for five years and 56,000km (not many I guess!).
The B48 engine in BMW family has also received great feedback for ongoing reliability versus its predecessors (see N20) since its introduction in 2016, so I’m holding onto that and frequent oil changes dearly. Knock on wood.
Living with this grandpa-spec F22 (Luxury Line, blue metallic and beige interior) every day has been an absolute blast. It’s a genuinely enjoyable place to be seated and is extremely easy to use. Everything has a button in what I believe is near peak-BMW interior style.
I recently returned from a 1900km road trip, which the 230i handled quite well. The seats proved to be quite comfortable, even on my return eight-hour-straight drive (Do you have an iron bladder? – Ed.), and NVH levels are surprisingly good. The interior provides a rattle-free experience, thank god.
As mentioned, the dealership side of ownership hasn’t been the most positive overall. They were relatively dismissive with the two visits for the issues above, and even denied my last free service as it was booked a couple months out of the service package expiry, even though I was made to reschedule the initial appointment which was within the period!
On the second-last service, they refused my request to change the oil as they deemed it ‘not necessary’ even though a year had passed since its last.
Overall disappointed on this front, but it hasn’t detracted from what is otherwise a relatively unique and enjoyable car.
The car was purchased for $45k in 2018, which back then was great value for a mid-level 2 Series with almost all options ticked. It is only missing the optional heated seats, which is admittedly something I wish it had during the winter. My car before this has heated seats, so its absence is personally notable.
Otherwise, it has AEB, lane-keeping assist, auto parking, auto high beams, TPMS and 360 sensors on the safety front. While there might be more I’m forgetting to include, newer cars today obviously overshadow this list but it remains a perfectly usable package for me overall.
Tech-wise, it has the extended nav screen with wireless Apply CarPlay, Harmon Kardon sound system, four drive modes, memory seats with electric lumbar and side-bolster adjustment, DAB radio, a pretty useful voice assistant and subtle ambient lighting with a choice between amber or white.
You can also create different driver profiles and program them to the keys, which is as neat as it is useful for a solo owner. As much as I love these features, the absence of a dipstick in favour of electronic oil level measurement is something I genuinely despise, instead having to warm the car up and park it on a level surface for the computer to measure correctly.
For me, the 230i has the perfect amount of of tech and safety features to make it both excellent value, and relevant in the current car climate.
The F22 230i comes with BMW’s ‘B48’ 2.0 Turbo 4-cylinder petrol engine. In my opinion, the B48 is one of the smoothest and most enjoyable turbo-fours available in a modern car.
With 185kW and 350Nm sent to the rear wheels, it provides more than enough power to overtake on highways and zip through traffic like your stereotypical BMW driver would. BMW quotes a 0-100 time of 5.6 seconds, and that feels accurate despite not having personally timed it.
The steering is quite weighted and communicative, which makes it fun to drive on twisty roads, but slightly fatiguing on longer journeys. This is obviously perfectly fine as the F22 was not designed as a GT car. As a result, the way it handles corners (especially on upgraded Michelin PS5s) is exceptional, and doesn’t feel like anything else at this price point, in this category, with equivalent features.
However, small road imperfections will send the steering wheel flying and make the car more dart-y than I’d like, so I do have to hold onto the wheel more firmly than I would in other cars.
Additionally, the ZF eight-speed auto is remarkable. It is almost as fast as a good dual-clutch and keeps the car in the right gear most of the time. In stop-start traffic, it does tend to be a bit jerky as it tries to predict a gear change based on throttle application, but my previous car also did this. So I’ll put it down to driver error or Sydney traffic. Probably.
My only complaint with the dynamic package of this car is the brakes. The pedal feels fine, but I think the car could do with more stopping power, which I believe was available with the M-Sport pack. I’ve only ever needed to slam on the brakes once, and while it performed perfectly fine for the situation, cars like my mum’s Mercedes definitely feel more responsive.
Unlike my mum’s Mercedes, however, the driving modes in the 230i actually make a difference! Comfort is the default setting, in which throttle response, transmission shifting and steering weight are all, well, comfortable. Eco Pro dulls the accelerator pedal so much that I may as well be pressing down on a loaf of bread, but I understand how it could be useful in hypermiling.
Sport sharpens the aforementioned aspects of the drive and wakes up the car quite a bit, where Sport+ makes the transmission even more aggressive and disables traction control. In Sport mode, the exhaust valve also opens and makes the engine’s soundtrack just slightly more notable.
The fuel efficiency of the B48 appears to be a mixed bag. On slower highways (say, never really exceeding 100km/h), I have consistently achieved a rather exceptional 5.1L/100km.
Seriously, that’s impressive for a non-hybrid with 185kW. On the other hand, stop-start traffic will see it climb to 13-14L/100kms which is less than stellar. On my recent road trip, I averaged 6.3L/100km on a variety of straight, then winding, then straight again roads. Not bad.
My lifetime average economy is 9L/100km, which I think could be slightly better considering the F22 is not a heavy car. It has a 50-odd litre tank but throws the fuel reserve light with about 7-8L remaining, which means I average 450-500km per fill as I drive mostly in the city.
With this car being a Luxury Line spec, I love that it is relatively unassuming and quiet. It’s definitely not the fastest thing on the road, nor in its family (hello M240i and M2), but it’s plenty for me and brings a smile to my face each time I get in.
As covered earlier, the tech available in the 230i is more than most would ever really need on the road. While it lacks active cruise control and bizarrely blind-spot monitoring, I’ve never felt that I needed more than what it has for my uses.
Further, the Nav screen has been almost faultless. Wireless Apple CarPlay connects instantly on start-up and has never disconnected or provided bad quality audio, response etc.
CarPlay does occasionally refuse to connect, about once every few months. In this case, I have to disable CarPlay on my phone and in the car, then re-connect to resolve the issue.
The HK sound system is great, although I have heard better in admittedly more expensive cars. Everything available in this car is well suited to my needs and rarely do I feel the technology fails me.
As I covered handling earlier, I’ll focus more upon the ride here.
This car is specced with the Luxury Line package, instead of the more common M-Sport pack. This means that it has a slightly softer suspension set-up than what is typically present on the F22 chassis.
As a result, the 230i rides surprisingly well for what is a 2-door sports-lite car. As most Euro cars go, the suspension is still firm and doesn’t hide changes in the road surface, but I have never once felt that the ride was flat-out uncomfortable.
It seems most at-home on winding roads with gradual elevation changes, where the car feels planted and body roll is relatively minimal. Then, on flat highways, it settles down and never sends sharp bumps straight into my spine.
While there are occasions that I think the M-Sport’s more aggressive looks suit the 2er, I love the unique spec of my car and think it’s perfectly suited to my daily driving. The Luxury Line suspension package may even benefit the car, as I cannot fault the way it rides even when being pushed.
I plan to keep this car for as long as it is viable. I just love getting in it every day and driving something that can achieve most aspects of daily driving to quite a high standard.