DURBAN, South Africa - Automakers which, historically, chose alphabetic denominations for their products are limited to 26 model ranges; BMW, however, works on numbers and that, theoretically, gives the company scope that is unlimited.VIDEO: 2014 BMW 2 Series Coupe - on the trackIMAGE GALLERY: 2014 BMW 2 Series Coupe The latest in the Blue Propeller Company's progression - or, in this case, insertion - is the 2 Series Coupe just launched to the media in South Africa with two days and 300km of driving through kwaZulu-Natal on both sides of Durban that included a brief visit to the Dezzi Raceway and Private Airport outside Port Shepstone on the way-down South Coast for some high-performance stuff.The 2 Series Coupe, you see, comes in three two-door hard-top versions (for now) from mild, through sensible, to manic and it was the manic M235i in which a dozen local motoring writers were let loose on the Dezzi track and which showed there IS an alternative to the now legendary M3.FIVE LAPS OF DEZZIA sort of budget version for a modest R512 500 for the baseline car (R646 680 with various taxes though additions from the options list* could make that half-bar look like small change). The M235i's diminutive size being driven by a straight-six, quad-valve, three-litre, 240kW/450Nm (at 5800rpm and from 1300-4500rpm respectively) engine explains the 'manic' and gives weight to BMW SA's claim that it's the most bang-for-its-bucks car in its segment.GALLERY: BMW 2 Series CoupeFive laps at Dezzi (a real-life private small-plane runway with a series of curves added at each and in the middle) showed off the car's straight-line speed and curve-clawing automated grip through the winding bits, especially the varying-radius curves up the hillside...In responsible hands a powerful car is a safe car and on along the (disgustingly) pot-holed and litter-strewn back roads and on the contrastingly superb and clean freeways the M235i was a thoroughbred - reassuringly little lean on the winding roads through the hills, instant overtaking on the freeways.It's compact, superbly comfortable (my test car had power adjustment for just about everything) and displays all the attributes of a true sports car.The three-car baseline price list is... 2 Series Coupe 220i - R376 000 2 Series Coupe 220d - R406 000 2 Series Coupe M235i - R512 000...though they, too, come with a mighty list of budget-bustin' options.From September 2014 (orders taken from July 2014) there'll be a 180kW 228i.The second day's driving saw us back along much the same route with a nudge into the famous Valley of a thousand Hills. I'd wanted to try the diesel model (220d) but the two available had been snatched by other journos; the only car remaining for me and cars.co.za writer David Taylor was a 220i.If the M235i was manic, then the 220i was merely superb fun on wheels: the latter's straight-four but twin-turbo two-litre engine puts 135kW (5000-6250rpm) and 270Nm (1250-4500Nm) under the driver's right foot and, frankly, that's plenty for a car of this size.DIESEL ALSO A PERFORMANCE MACHINEThe handling isn't as sharp as the M-car but if I had to do a Jozi-Cape run or simply commute then the 220i is the sensible purchase, a car you can live with and enjoy every day instead of the top model which is pure temptation to hell-raising.Pity we missed the diesel because its performance is almost exactly the same as that of the petrol two-litre. Its torque, at 380Nm, is far higher than that of the petrol car but each makes 135kW and does 0-100 in, give or take, seven seconds - the benefit of the diesel is sub-five litres/100km fuel consumption for the R30 000 price premium and both can make 230km/h.BMW says the new 2 Series Coupe "celebrates the premiere of another new model family and raises the bar in the premium compact segment in terms of dynamic ability, aesthetic appeal and emotional allure"."Its a distinctive vehicle concept unique in its segment with a two-door body in classic three-box design typical of BMW coupes: four seats, rear-wheel drive and an engine range and chassis set-up focused squarely on sporting ability."And its South African market launch (officially from April 1 2014) includes a BMW M Performance model – the already described BMW M235i Coupe.LARGER DIMENSIONSThe range, the automaker adds, has a clear visual differentiation from the compact BMW 1 Series thanks to an individual design, including an 11cm increase in body length; sporty, stretched lines with a roofline flowing smoothly into the rear; distinctive front and rear design; body at its widest over the rear axle to emphasise the rear-wheel-drive configuration and a choice of Sport Line, Modern Line and M Sport packages for "individualisation".The 2 Series coupe has larger dimensions than its predecessor: 72mm longer at 4.432m, 32mm wider to 1.774m, a 30mm wider wheelbase at 2.690m, front track up by 41mm to 1.521m and rear track 43mm wider to 1.556m.The overall stretching millimetres gives six millimetres more front headroom and 21mm more rear legroom - certainly two modestly dimensioned adult humans will be pretty comfortable in the back. The boot is also family holiday-friendly with an extra 20 litres taking it to 390 litres.The rear-seat backrests split into two or (as an option) folding 40:20:40. The M model has tunedchassis components.The coupes' cabin is driver-focused and comes (depending on model) with auto climate control; iDrive operating system in conjunction with BMW Professional radio or navigation system including a control display in exclusive BMW flatscreen design; satnav and lots of storage compartments and the ever-vital cupholders.SERIOUS CONVERSATION NEEDED Other features (again, model or ordered dependent) include various driver assistance systems and mobility services from BMW ConnectedDrive, anti-dazzle auto high-beam, adaptive headlights, parking assistance, rear-view camera, speed-limit info, cruise control system with auto braking, extended integration of smartphones and music players and the ability to handle apps for internet-based services such as Facebook and Twitter.A serious conversation in the showroom, with multiple cups of coffee, will be a pre-requisite and, we suggest, should only come after extensive scrutiny of all the brochures you can get your hands on.HISTORY LESSON"This the latest 2 Series Coupe," BMW says, "builds on the brand’s tradition of compact models offering a satisfying degree of driver engagement and the presence of the 2 in the model designation creates a close link to this heritage."The introduction in 1966 of the BMW 1600-2, for instance, opened up a whole new vehicle segment, a global standard-bearer for sporty handling and intense driving pleasure in the compact car segment. More engine variants increased the appeal of the new model; the 1968 BMW 2002 took centre stage in terms of both popularity and turned “Freude am Fahren” (Sheer Driving Pleasure) from a slogan into an experience for whole new target groups."The most spectacular variant was the 125kW BMW 2002 turbo – the first model from a European manufacturer to gain a turbocharger."The modern range's M Sport adds, as mentioned earlier, suspension tuning (including a 10mm lower ride height and 17" M double-spoked alloy rims, aerodynamically optimised body elements (including large front air intakes, striking side skirts and a diffuser for the rear apron), plus a special design for the BMW kidney grille and an exhaust tailpipe embellisher in gloss chrome.There are also aluminium sill strips bearing the M logo, sports front seats, a special dial design for the instrument cluster, ambient lighting and an M driver’s footrest.The spec lists are way to long to be included here - you'll get the full range from your friendly local salespeople - but for sure this new 2 Series has more options, choice and go-faster bits than any other small/medium performance car on the South African market.*OPTIONS LIST: BMW 2 Series M235i - Adaptive M Suspension; Comfort Access; glass sunroof, electric with sliding and vent function; enterior and exterior mirrors with automatic anti-dazzle function; auto anti-dazzle interior mirror; electric seat adjustment with memory for driver's seat; lumbar support for driver and front passenger(power adjustment); highlight trim finishers black high-gloss; headlight washers; parkin radar front and rear; xenon headlights; adaptive headlights; auto aircon with microfilter; extended light package; auto high/low beam; driving assist; park assist; Professional satnav; Internet preparation; Harman/Kardon sound, BMW Live; apps; convenience telephony with extended smartphone connectivity; instrument cluster with extended contents; acoustic seat belt warning; speed-limit info.