2023 BMW 230i Coupe review


Forget the rest of the BMW 2 Series Coupe range, this 230i is the performance and value sweet spot for driving enthusiasts.

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What we love
  • Generous and spirited powertrain
  • Taut dynamics and frisky nature
  • Simplified driver-focused interior
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What we don’t
  • Cramped back seat
  • Ride could be tiring for some
  • Steering lacks feel

Let’s understand how the BMW 230i Coupe fits into BMW’s current model range. 

SUVs are the revenue cash cows for the BMW brand these days. In fact, they’re cash cows for pretty much all brands, but it’s good to see passenger cars still being offered to those who don’t want an SUV. 

The 2 Series sits one rung above BMW’s cheapest passenger car model, the 1 Series hatchback, and one rung below its best known – and one of its oldest – nameplates, the 3 Series executive sedan.

Confusingly, the BMW 2 Series range includes rear-drive Coupes with two doors and front-drive Gran Coupes with four doors – even though everyone knows a coupe has just two doors by definition. 

There’s also a case for viewing the 2 Series range as de facto members of the 1 Series family, because all 1s and 2s represent the most affordable way into that body style with a BMW badge. 

We’re going to ignore the 2 Series Gran Coupe in this review and focus solely on the two-door 2 Series Coupe range, of which this 230i is the middle man.

How much does the BMW 230i cost in Australia?

The current BMW 2 Series Coupe range arrived in late 2021 in 220i and M240i xDrive forms with prices starting back then at $59,900 and topping out at $89,900 plus on-road costs.

Since then, BMW has increased pricing on most vehicles in its extensive range, and the 2 Series didn’t miss out. At the time of writing (September 2023) the 220i carries an MSRP of $68,800 plus on-road costs and the M240i is priced at $90,427 plus ORCs.

No equipment or performance has been added to the cars to justify these price increases.

The 230i Coupe landed in June of this year with an MSRP of $74,300, putting it roughly $5K above the 220i and $16K below the M240i xDrive. 

That has since changed. Today’s pricing (September 5, 2023) has the 220i at $71,300, the 230i at $76,800, and the M240i at $99,250. All of those prices are before on-road costs.

Compared to the 220i that Kez Casey tested last year, the 230i adds keyless entry and start, a digital key, an upgraded sound system, electrically adjustable front seats, adaptive LED headlights with auto high beam, adaptive cruise control and uprated M-Sport brakes.

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The drive-away price of the 230i is $88,369 in Melbourne, which includes all statutory taxes, duties and registration fees – and a couple of petty administrative fees: inspection fee ($31) and appointment fee ($20).

If BMW added these two innocuous fees to all 22,696 vehicles sold in 2022, it netted the company a cool $1.6 million in additional revenue for no customer benefit. But then if you’re buying a BMW, I guess the presumption is you don’t mind adding a $51 tip to the bill.

If you do, your options are limited. Mercedes-Benz doesn’t offer a small coupe, and neither will Audi now that the TT’s end has been confirmed. 

Look beyond the prestige space and the Nissan Z occupies similar pricing ground. We’d expect the 2024 Ford Mustang to also have variants competitive on price with the 230i, but we’re not sure many people cross-shop a BMW with a Ford or Nissan.

Key details 2023 BMW 230i M Sport
Price $76,800 plus on-road costs
Colour of test car Brooklyn Grey Metallic
Options M Sport Pack – $2800
– M high-gloss Shadow Line with extended contents
– 19-inch M light alloy wheels
Enhancement Pack – $3900
– Glass roof, electrical
– Metallic paintwork
Comfort Pack – $1400
– Steering wheel heating
– Lumbar support, front seats
– Heating, front seats
Price as tested $84,900 plus on-road costs
Drive-away price $88,369 (Melbourne)
Rivals Nissan Z | Ford Mustang

How much space does the BMW 230i have inside?

The 230i Coupe has a two-door body with four seats inside. The interior is very much on point for the brand and for the price. M Sport faux leather and Alcantara seats, and a leather steering wheel set the premium tone, which is capped off by pulsating ambient lighting and a massive (optional) panoramic sunroof.

The electrically adjustable driver’s seating position is excellent and combines with reach-and-tilt-adjustable steering to deliver an ideal driving position in what is a very driver-centric cabin. The cabin itself feels cosy without tipping into claustrophobia, but this is a small car to begin with, so bear that in mind.

Below that is the (nowadays) obligatory phone charging mat and a couple of cupholders.

As for the rest of the interior, some may think the 230i’s less techy approach is a bit behind the times compared to other BMW models, most notably the latest X1, but I like the simplified and less screen-heavy approach in what is ultimately aimed as a driver’s car. 

The 12.3-inch driver’s instrument cluster is digital, just like the 10.25-inch central infotainment screen. BMW has persisted with the eight preset buttons below the infotainment screen, which is a waste of space and adds visual clutter.

Getting into the back seat is straightforward but not overly easy due to the compact dimensions of the car overall. A lever on the back of the front seat tilts and slides the front seat mostly out of the way, and returns the seat to that position once you’re in. 

The back seat is an occasional seat for adults at best, but shouldn’t be a struggle for kids or young teenagers. It does not have enough headroom for my 172cm frame, and leg room and under-seat foot room are tight unless the front-seat occupant slides all the way forward. 

Back-seat occupants do have access to climate-control settings and air vents, along with two USB ports and a fold-down centre armrest with cupholders. The fold-down armrest reveals a ski-port for accessing the boot. 

When the armrest is not folded, the middle of the back seat has a rubber-lined oddments tray, which is a thoughtful touch. There is a seatback storage net on the backs of both front seats.

Both back seats have ISOFIX mounting points but getting a child seat in here – and presumably the child – on a regular basis is likely to drive you mad. 

Moving to the electrically operated boot, it’s a decent size for a car of these dimensions – 390L capacity.

2023 BMW 230i M Sport
Seats Four
Boot volume 390L seats up
Length 4537mm
Width 1838mm
Height 1390mm
Wheelbase 2741mm

Does the BMW 230i have Apple CarPlay and Android Auto?

Like the cheaper BMW 220i, the 230i has a 10.25-inch infotainment screen with some very crisp and classy graphics. Interaction is via touch, a central controller or voice commands. 

The system includes satellite navigation, AM/FM/DAB+ radio, smartphone mirroring, Bluetooth connectivity and various information systems. There are two USB ports up front; one next to the phone charging mat and the second under the centre armrest.

Apple CarPlay is wirelessly available while Android Auto is wired. 

I used wired Android Auto during my time with the car, and found it generally solid but did experience a couple of system dropouts – which is bizarre in a wired system.

The BMW 230i combines this with a 12.3-inch digital driver’s display that also has classy high-quality graphics. The same goes for the head-up display on the windscreen.

Is the BMW 230i a safe car?

The BMW 2 Series Coupe has not been crash-tested or rated by ANCAP. It was given a four-star rating by Europe’s equivalent, Euro NCAP, in 2022. 

The BMW 2 Series Coupe has six airbags across both rows. 

2023 BMW 230i M Sport
ANCAP rating Untested
Euro NCAP rating 4 stars (2022)

What safety technology does the BMW 230i have?

Standard active safety equipment includes autonomous emergency braking, lane-departure warning and blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert and rear collision prevention. 

Compared to the 220i, the 230i adds adaptive LED headlights with high-beam assist, adaptive cruise control and Park Assist Plus. 

How much does the BMW 230i cost to maintain?

BMW was one of the last brands to upgrade their factory warranty to five years, which it did in October 2022. There is no kilometre limit for privately owned vehicles. 

BMW says there are no defined servicing intervals with the 230i, but it’s likely to need a service every 12 months or thereabouts. You can take the guesswork out of servicing costs by purchasing a five-year service pack upfront for $2050.

When quoted by a leading insurer, the BMW 230i returned a $2587 annual premium, based on a comparative quote for a 35-year-old male driver living in Chatswood, NSW. Insurance estimates may vary based on your location, driving history, and personal circumstances.

At a glance 2023 BMW 230i M Sport
Warranty Five years, unlimited km
Service intervals Condition-based servicing
Servicing costs $2050 (5 years)

Is the BMW 230i fuel-efficient?

BMW claims the 230i will use 6.4 litres per 100km across a city/highway combined cycle. I averaged 6.0L/100km over two days of sustained freeway commuting but blew the average out to 7.9L/100km after a Sunday morning drive in the hills.

Fuel Usage Fuel Stats
Fuel cons. (claimed) 6.4L/100km
Fuel cons. (on test) 7.9L/100km
Fuel type 95-octane premium unleaded
Fuel tank size 52L

What is the BMW 230i like to drive?

I’m old enough to remember when BMW’s naming convention indicated the engine size. Back then a car badged 230i would have a 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder engine. These days both the 220i and 230i have the same 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine

And there’s nothing wrong with that when the 230i’s engine produces 40 per cent more power and 33 per cent more torque than the 220i for a total of 190kW and 400Nm

The 230i has four drivetrain modes that change throttle sensitivity, gearchange mapping and steering heft. They are Eco, Comfort, Sport and Pro. A fifth setting – Individual – lets the driver tailor all settings to suit. 

BMW claims a 0–100km/h time of 5.8 seconds for the rear-wheel-drive 230i coupe, which is 1.7 seconds faster than the 220i and feels it. 

It uses this power beautifully, almost seductively, to immerse the driver in one of the sweetest compact sports coupe driving experiences you can get today… as long as you like a firm ride. 

If you’re after a Sunday boulevarde cruiser that allows you to sip your double decaf, chai-frosted latte without spilling on your ethically sourced synthetic sweater, then this is not your car. 

If, instead, you like a taut sports tourer that feels at all times eager and spritely, and has a strong connection with the road – lumps and all – then the 230i will make you smile. 

The BMW 230i’s chassis is deeply skilled and beautifully balanced, making this a car for the keen driver. It likes nothing better than to be unleashed on a winding mountain road, and it scythes through fast sweepers with a surety that belies its equally impressive agility in tighter corners.

But around town, it can come across as too firm because it follows the lumps and undulations in a way that only firmly sprung and well-damped cars do. This is partly how the 230i gets its sharp steering response on turn-in. On that, I would like a little more tactility and feedback.

For everyday driving, some may find this ride too reactive and busy. But that is the price you pay for a $70K sports coupe with one-mode suspension.

Our test car came with optional 19-inch Pirelli P-Zeros, so I’ve no idea if the standard 18-inch tyres make much difference. I doubt it. What would help is BMW’s adaptive dampers, but those are restricted to the more expensive M240i, which is a shame, if only because their addition would round out this car’s competencies.

Key details 2023 BMW 230i M Sport
Engine 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol
Power 190kW @ 4500-6500rpm
Torque 400Nm @ 1600-4000rpm
Drive type Rear-wheel drive
Transmission 8-speed torque converter automatic
Power-to-weight ratio 124.6kW/t
Weight (kerb) 1525kg
0–100km/h 5.8sec
Turning circle 11.1m

Do you like to drive? Do you like the drive? 

Be honest or you may regret it.

If you’re after a dynamic and spirited European sports coupe that feels constantly alive and energised, the BMW 230i delivers beautifully. 

Sure, it’s $10K more expensive than the 220i, but it has the beating heart to make this decision a no-brainer. 

But, if you want a European sports coupe that looks good and glides like a cloud but won’t ruffle your feathers, then keep searching.

Ratings Breakdown

2023 BMW 2 Series 230i M Sport Coupe

8.0/ 10

Infotainment & Connectivity

Interior Comfort & Packaging

Glenn Butler

Glenn Butler is one of Australia’s best-known motoring journalists having spent the last 25 years reporting on cars on radio, TV, web and print. He’s a former editor of Wheels, Australia’s most respected car magazine, and was deputy editor of Drive.com.au before that. Glenn’s also worked at an executive level for two of Australia’s most prominent car companies, so he understands how much care and consideration goes into designing and developing new cars. As a journalist, he’s driven everything from Ferraris to Fiats on all continents except Antarctica (which he one day hopes to achieve) and loves discovering each car’s unique personality and strengths. Glenn knows a car’s price isn’t indicative of its competence, and even the cheapest car can enhance your life and expand your horizons. 

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