The BMW 2 Series is offered as a coupe or convertible, and with a broad array of engines right through from efficient three-cylinder petrol and four-cylinder diesels, through to some of the best performance engines available in a compact car. If you do fancy sweaty-palmed, exhilarating performance with which to enjoy the 2-Series’ nimble rear-wheel drive handling, then look to the M235i (later updated and called the M240i) for a truly rapid, thrilling drop-top or coupe. If even that isn’t enough, the coupe-only M2 is one of the finest compact sports cars going; a return to the simple but brilliant purist sports cars that BMW built its reputation on. Problem is, the M2 is so in-demand that it’s barely losing value at all and it’s not cheap in the first place, so we’re going to focus on the more affordable 2 Series models here.

We’ll run out of room on the internet if we go into detail about every engine offered in the 2 Series, but it’s suffice to say that there’s one out there to suit you, and there are no bad engines on offer. If you’re after a cheap purchase and fuel costs, the 218i is one of the best options. This little 1.5-cylinder petrol engine is familiar from the Mini Cooper, and it manages zesty, rev-happy performance while also managing to give you 40mpg on an easy run.

Reliability problems are few,
in the BMW 2 Series.

However, most used 2 Series models are diesel, and our pick would be the 220d. These four-cylinder diesel cars are pretty common on the used market in both convertible and coupe bodies, and the good news is that they will stop up the road at hot hatch pace while still returning 50mpg. Happy days. They’re not too noisy, either, although it must be said that the petrols are better for delivering a fun exhaust note and quiet cruising. You can get automatic and manual versions of these engines, and it’s best to pick what suits you – auto if you spend a lot of time commuting and want an easy life, or a manual if you fancy a more hands-on, enthusiastic drive. 

Even the convertible 2 Series has room for two passengers in the rear seats, so while the rear seats are best suited for kids, this is one of the most practical coupe or convertible cars you can get.

enjoy the 2 series’
nimble rear wheel drive handling.

Reliability problems have proven to be remarkably few in the BMW 2 Series. Diesel engines can have trouble with the diesel particulate filter (DPF), especially on cars that have spent their lives in the city since the filter typically gets cleaned out in faster driving. Interiors seem to be well built and don’t suffer squeaks and rattles too easily, so generally this is a great used buy – if still not a terribly cheap one. If you’re looking for more affordable two-door, soft-top fun then check the Mazda MX-5, which also has a great reputation for reliability, although it’s a strict two-seater with nowhere near the BMW’s practicality and refinement.  

Entry-level SE trim is a good bet for equipment, since it gets 17-inch alloys, air-con, DAB radio, sat-nav, Bluetooth, auto wipers and LED lights and rear parking sensors. Even so, the more expensive Sport and M Sport cars are very common on the used market since the bigger wheels and more aggressive-looking styling is so popular. Other than a slightly more tiresome ride comfort, they look great and tick all the boxes if you’re after a car that just makes you love life on the road.

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