Sector: Lower Medium Price: £26,865 Fuel: 58.9mpg CO2: 125g/km

The 2 Series may be a new member of the BMW range, but the car behind the badge is far from unfamiliar. This is the model which replaces the old 1 Series Coupe, and it takes the best bits of its predecessor and makes them look better than ever.

BMW’s expanding range has taken its lead from the 6 Series, which has denoted sportier versions of the 5 Series since 1976, and drip-fed this down to smaller models. So the 4 Series encompasses the coupe versions of the 3 Series, and likewise the 2 Series does the same job for the 1 Series.

Assuming BMW follows the larger even-numbered model ranges, you could guess that the 2 Series family will grow to include a two-door Coupe and Convertible versions, a CLA-rivalling five-door GranCoupe and possibly an X2 coupe-crossover, based on the X1. Plus, of course, the Active Tourer MPV, which is a bit of a square peg in an otherwise style-focussed line-up.

So, like its predecessor, the 2 Series Coupe shares its platform with the 1 Series hatchback, but with a wider front and rear track and an engine range stripped of the least powerful versions. In diesel form, the range starts with the 145bhp 18d and 187bhp 20d tested here.

However, there’s a marked difference in styling. Where the 1 Series Coupe gained a stubby boot but looked otherwise very similar to the hatch, this shares no metalwork with its closest relation. With slim Z4-like headlamps and a much neater profile than its predecessor, it’s matured into a genuinely good looking smaller sibling to the 4 Series.

Interior differences are less marked, it's almost the same inside albeit with frameless doors and two defined rear seats instead of a bench. That is to say that it’s not as visually appealing inside as the closest rivals from Audi and Mercedes-Benz, but it’s solidly built and well-appointed with a fixed infotainment screen in the middle of the dashboard. The sports seats are supportive and very comfortable, the driving position is just right for a coupe, and it’s only rear headroom that’ll catch out the tallest passengers.

With BMW’s high power, high efficiency diesel engines, it’s easy to get a thoroughly enjoyable driver’s car without excessively high tax liability. The 20d tested here emits 125g/km CO2 and comes close to its claimed 58.9mpg on the motorway, yet produces enough power to take on diesel hot hatches like the Golf GTD in the performance stakes, while the chassis underneath gives excellent roadholding, but without back-breaking ride quality.

It also has no direct rivals. Audi hasn’t fitted a fixed roof to the A3 Cabriolet yet, Mercedes-Benz hasn’t lopped the back doors off the CLA, and slightly cheaper cars such as the Volkswagen Scirocco with an equivalent diesel engine lack that softened three-box coupe silhouette.

BMW has form as a manufacturer of compact coupes, and while the 2 Series is a new nameplate it’s built to a familiar formula. It might just make you question moving up to the larger 4 Series.

Verdict:

Great to drive, effortlessly efficient and practical for all except young families, the 2 Series has plenty in its favour, and few rivals to steal sales away. Qualities which should continue to make it a popular user-chooser option.