BMW M240i xDrive Coupe review: is BMW’s smallest sporty coupe also its best?

It sounds impressive enough to be the new BMW M2.

As you surely know, this is not the new M2. It’s the next best thing: the M240i. The most popular 2-series coupe on sale today, it packs a colossal 369 hp and 369 lb-ft. Thanks to all-wheel drive, it’s good for 0-62mph in 4.3 seconds, which is just as fast as the standard BMW M2. And doesn’t he look happy?

For a modern BMW it’s almost nice…

Well, at least the grids are in proportion. There are quite a few bulging bumps, the power dome on the hood is ridiculous, and the rear of the car looks like, as some have already seen, Sid the Sloth out of Ice Age. Does your head turn when you growl? Oh yeah. A lot, in fact. Much more than a Mercedes CLA would do.

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So what is the new M240i? A real sports car?

To understand the new 2 Series Coupé, you have to take stock of all the BMWs that surround it. The 1 Series is now a front-wheel drive sedan full of Mini parts, and BMW has insisted that (although the 2 Series Active Tourer and Gran Coupe may be based on the same nitpicks) its 2-door won’t. Thank goodness the engineers still have some power in the board’s votes.

But BMW was never going to spend millions of dollars designing a bespoke rear-wheel drive platform just for a niche market. So what BMW did was take the platform that’s under the 3 and 4 Series, cut it down a bit, and put a beefy 2 Series body on top. Presto, a coupé with a longitudinal engine and rear-wheel drive. Except this one actually has four-wheel drive.

It’s as fast as you can get: the M240i basically borrows the drivetrain from the M440i. So it’s a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder with 48-volt hybrid assist, an eight-speed automatic transmission, sending 369 hp and 369 lb-ft mostly to the rear wheels, except when you ask. when up to half of that can be shared with the front axle.

It’s a heavy powertrain for a “small” car, which is why this entry-level Mini-M weighs over 1.7 tons. Any way you look at it, it’s overweight, though it still fits and beats its claimed 35-mpg economy if you’re approaching a freeway.

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Does he drive with his own cheeky character or does he feel grown up?

The wheelbase of this 2 is longer than the previous one and the tracks are wider. So it is stable, but the suspension itself is much better resolved. While the old car bounced and bounced over a bumpy road, as if parts of the suspension were tied together with bungee cords, the new M240i has phenomenal composure, mature, taut, and yet reasonably comfortable. Only when you actually lean on it does the weight of the pig spoil the effect.

There will be an M2 (rear-wheel drive only) coming to the top of the range next year, but given the pace of this M Performance model and how consistent the ride is with the current generation of M cars, I’d have to say this youngster competitor is called to be the preferred car for every day. It is also faster than ancient M2.

Forget about the M2 and tell me more about the 240i…

I’m sorry. Steering is remarkably weighted and direct without being overly heavy. It feels like you’re throwing a big, twitchy engine into a corner, but it’s snappier than an M440i. There’s torque absolutely everywhere and the engine even makes a nice noise, with the characteristic straight-six sound allowed into the cabin without sounding as boosted through the speakers as an M3.

As always, the gearbox it’s attached to is magical as a moocher, quick to redline on the way up, but won’t give you last-minute downshifts until it’s good and ready. This is where BMW gives way to a more tense and mischievous M version. Same thing with the brakes – too spongy and too much servo on top of the pedal. M Division’s first job is to take them out and start over.

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However, the chassis and balance are soft. On paper it’s a very rear-facing four-wheel drive, but the Audi RS3 folks will be pleased to find that the M240i suffers from the same nonsense and lack of talent: you can hit the throttle mid-corner and the 240i commands you. outside.

From time to time you will have a tense restlessness. A movement of the hip. But never a change from “oh my god please don’t”. You’ll get what you pay for with this engine every time you hit that cold metal starter button. A button from a Series 4, of course. Because yes, the new 2 is no longer a sporty 1, it’s a stunted 4. So you get a Series 4 cab.

You mean a cheap £60,000 big boy-inspired facsimile?

I mean a real M440i cockpit. Same screens, same materials, same technology. And slightly more supportive seats. It is a beautiful place. There’s not even a drastic reduction in space for occasional rear passengers. Still, the M240i is £46,000 and the M440i, which does exactly the same job, is £9,000 more. And uglier.

What is BMW doing here? There are too many cars doing the same job. Series 2 is now just as composed and competent as Series 4, which in turn pokes fun at the existence of the bloated and expensive Series 8. Bad news if you just bought the flagship, when the M240i looks like a bargain.

But although it is so complete, it could be said that it lacks that something intangible. It’s a nice little sports coupe. If you had a previous Gen 2, you’ll love upgrading to Business Class with its premium cabin and top-tier powertrain. But it’s also a missed opportunity to create a brazier, more bellicose little coupe with its own definable character.

What’s the verdict?

BMW currently makes fantastic two-doors, but they suffer more from the Russian doll effect, if that’s still an acceptable benchmark.

So to understand the new M240i, you need to take stock of all the BMWs around it, before concluding that it’s possible to greatly respect it and not get it right in the end.

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