der Bayerische January/February 2021 - 30

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D

uring an analyst conference
call ten years ago, the then
BMW CEO cited a statistic
that startled the BMW faithful:
80% of the 1 Series owners thought
their vehicle was front-wheel drive.
Just as surprising was how
BMW leadership viewed this
statistic. To them, this meant that
front-wheel-drive BMWs would be
welcomed in the marketplace.
As you may suspect, there
was a business reason for the
announcement. The MINI brand
was the last remnant of BMW's illfated purchase of Land Rover.
While both the products and the
brand have been wildly popular, the
cost for developing a world-class,
front-wheel-drive platform, as well
as standing up separate sales and
marketing channels, insured that
profitability was a long-term
prospect. To shrink the timeline to
profitability required an additional
sales channel - hence, slow, deliberate, strategic market conditioning
for front-wheel drive BMWs.
Key to this market condition-

B M W

2 2 8

ing was the development of a
modular front-wheel-drive chassis
to be used for both MINI and BMW
products: the UKL (Untere Klasse)
platform. BMW has since developed a UKL derivative known as
the FAAR platform, designed with
ICE, hybrid and electrical powertrains in mind.
Some of you may remember
my article on a BMW dealer in
Bordeaux, France. Prominently
displayed was the first modern
front-wheel-drive BMW, the 2
Active Tourer. The first U.S. BMWbranded product using this platform was the BMW X1, with a
second, the X2, following a few
years later.
I suspect that for the BMW
faithful, a BMW-branded frontwheel-drive minivan and BMWbranded compact SAVs were not
much of a culture shock. Our brief
experience in the 2 Active Tourer
reminded me of the Shelby-ized
Dodge Caravan prototypes (the fun
you can have blowing away
Corvettes in a minivan is immeasurable). The BMW X1 drives like
an Audi Q3 or an Audi A4, while

G R A N

C O U P E

the X2 drives like a VW GTI or an
Audi RS6.
The real test of acceptance by
the BMW faithful would be a
UKL/FAAR chassis BMW-branded
car. And that's why the 2 Series
Gran Coupe was of such interest for
us to evaluate.
The " Pullyu-Pushmi " title was
developed with some malice aforethought. For the rear-wheel-drive
BMWs, the xDrive is a " PushmiPullyu " design - the rear wheels are
the primary drive wheels, and when
the Dynamic Stability Control
(DSC) detects slipping in the rear
wheels, power is sent to the front
wheels.
For the UKL/FAAR platform
vehicles, the front wheels are the
primary drive wheels, with power
sent to the rear wheels when the
DSC detects slippage. Hence,
" Pullyu-Pushmi " . The earlier references to Audi and VW are no coincidence - the xDrive systems used
for the UKL/FAAR platform is a
Haldex design - the same company
that developed the " Quattro " system
for Audi.
From the all-too-brief Ultimate

(Below) I thoroughly enjoyed the 228 horsepower, 258 ft-lbs of torque from the turbocharged four-cylinder engine.

30

Driving Experience autocross experience in an M235 Gran Coupe, it
was clear that this vehicle drives like
the classic 1980s/1990s Dodge
front-wheel-drive performance vehicles (Daytona IROC R/T, Stealth R/T
Turbo, Shadow CSX, Shelby Lancer,
Shelby Charger, Shelby GLHS,
Spirit R/T). After a few laps in the
M235 Gran Coupe, I felt like reaching for my " Members Only " Shelby
Motorsports jacket.
The contrast in vehicle driving
dynamics was made even more
apparent because the M340i (my
new favorite 3 Series) was the other
BMW featured in the Ultimate
Driving Experience autocross. Both
BMWs were quite fun on the course,
and course times improved significantly as one became familiar with
the two different vehicle dynamics.
But drivers accustomed to rearwheel drive will not initially be
comfortable with front-wheeldrive performance-vehicle dynamics,
including those of the 2 Gran Coupe.
That will be the major issue for
the BMW faithful and the " me like
car, me drive fast " car reviewers.
The 2 Gran Coupe does NOT drive
like a BMW. To me, it drives like an
Audi. And there's nothing wrong
with that.
Bringing my 2020 M240i convertible to BMW of Alexandria for its
SECOND windshield replacement,
thanks to construction debris from
the I-95 toll road extension, I was
provided with a 228 Gran Coupe
as a loaner vehicle. Delighted to
receive it, I put that 228 Gran Coupe
through its paces on some of my
favorite Northern Virginia back
roads while listening to music from
the Sirius XM " First Wave " channel.
I was thoroughly enjoying the 228
horsepower, 258 ft-lbs of torque
from the turbocharged four-cylinder
engine while on the back roads from
Fredericksburg to Harrisonburg
when the Bronski Boy hit, " Hit That
Perfect Beat " , came on. Suddenly I
was transformed back to Southern
California listening to KROQ,
driving Turnbull Canyon Road in a

derBayerische



der Bayerische January/February 2021

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