Published on April 16th, 2016 | by Daniel Sherman Fernandez0
BMW 220i Gran Tourer test drive review, the late bloomer
Since the inception of the mini-MPV in the late nineties virtually every mass-market contender has pitched in with their own model, however there has been one mass car manufacturer that has hesitated the need to bring a MPV to all their showrooms….until 2 years ago. Yes, BMW has been procrastinating the need for a MPV in their arsenal of performance vehicles and have labelled MPV’s as the humble ‘bread van’. After years of stiing in the side line and watching how its immediate rivals from Germany, Volkswagen and Mercedes raking in huge profits from their people movers, BMW showed the world their first ever MPV, the 220 Gran Tourer. Upright yet streamlined, BMW’s effort, was shown almost two years ago at and went on sale in Malaysia late last year.
The Malaysian premium compact-MPV market offers strong competition now with the Ford S-Max, Volkswagens Touran and the Mercedes B-Class being the pick of the premium bunch. BMW is pitching this 220 Gran Tourer as a premium offering with the equipment, quality and price reflecting this. We drove the 7-seat Gran Tourer over a weekend and here is our impression.
As is the norm with all modern BMWs the first impression is one of a quality product. Clean, classy external lines enclose an interior that sets class leading standards in terms of fit, finish and execution. The image enhancing 17-inch rims on our car are standard on this Gran Tourer and the flat rear end follows standard MPV conventional shape and design. MPV’s like this can never really be seen as beautiful, but BMW has done well in executing this and it does look good.
The most important aspect of compact MPVs is the interior and here the Gran Tourer maintains the necessary MPV points. A seven seat layout (effectively a 5+2 with the two rears folding cleverly into the boot floor to give a large flat load space) with a pure five seat variant is also on sale. As you can see in the pictures the middle row of seats can be moved easily and slid forward for added rear legroom but middle row passengers sacrifice legroom. The cabin is filled with numerous storage spaces of various shapes and sizes including the air-conditioned glove box; 12v power supplies are also fitted for phones, computer games etc.
Driving any compact MPV was never going to be a seat of the pants thrill ride but this Gran Tourer carries the BMW DNA in full effect by providing some entertainment and involvement. The elevated driving position is always a boon for driver and passengers alike giving a good view of the road ahead and scenery elsewhere. The excellent all-round visibility, and a footprint about the same as a 3-series wagon (which is sadly not sold here), makes the Gran Tourer easy to manoeuvre and park.
The two-litre twin turbo engine is ideal for this 7 seat MPV, serving up 280Nm of torque low down at 1250rpm, just where you need it for lugging a well fed family from the buffet dinner at your nearby 5-star hotel. This engine makes for smooth and deceptively rapid progress and likes to rev as well pulling relatively cleanly to the red line, providing a rated power output of 192PS and a good spread of usable power across the speed range.
All in all this Gran Tourer is packed full of clever, thoughtful features that ease day to day motoring and make it a really useful mode of transport for families or those who need that extra load space. A comfortable, refined cruiser, packed with safety equipment and built to the usual high BMW standard make it a pretty tough package to beat as a premium compact MPV.
BMW 220i Gran Tourer Specifications
Engine: 4-cylinder Twin-Turbo
Power: 192bhp @ 4700rpm
Torque: 280Nm @ 1250-4600rpm
Top speed: 221km/h