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First drive: BMW M240i Coupe. Image by BMW.

First drive: BMW M240i Coupe
No major changes for the facelift, but then the belting BMW M240i didn't require remedial action.

   



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BMW M240i Coupe facelift

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5

BMW hasn't done a lot to the M240i during the midlife model facelift, but then, let's be honest, it really didn't need to...

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: BMW M240i Coupe Steptronic Sport
Pricing: 2 Series Coupe range from 24,300; M240i from 36,415, Steptronic Sport as tested from 37,715
Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder petrol
Transmission: eight-speed Steptronic Sport automatic, rear-wheel drive
Body style: two-door, four-seater coupe
CO2 emissions: 163g/km (VED Band B, 500 first 12 months, 140 annually thereafter (if car purchased for less than 40,000; 450 per annum years two-six of ownership, otherwise)
Combined economy: 39.8mpg
Top speed: 155mph (limited)
0-62mph: 4.7 seconds
Power: 340hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 500Nm at 1,520- to 4,500rpm

What's this?

BMW's 'halfway-house' M Performance version of the 2 Series, which sits between the standard 2 Series Coupe and the beefy M2. It's christened the M240i, but nowhere in the BMW range is the gap between diet and full-fat M-car closer than it is here. The tale of the tape reveals that the M240i kicks out 340hp and 500Nm from a 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder petrol, and can sprint from 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds (if you choose the automatic gearbox), has a 155mph limited top speed, and returns 39.8mpg and 163g/km. In comparison, the M2 uses the same engine with 370hp and 500Nm on a time-limited overboost, can do 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds, has the same 155mph limited maximum, and returns 33.2mpg and 199g/km. On paper, it's hardly a knockout blow that the M2 delivers to the M240i. It looks like the only reason you'd go for the M2 - which is more than 10k dearer - is because of its overblown bodywork.

The M240i, in comparison, is a model of discretion. And that's what BMW has exercised while facelifting it in what the company refers to as a 'Life Cycle Impulse' (LCI). Like the rest of the 2 Series Coupe and Convertible ranges, this is a visual update of nigh-on microscopic proportions. There are new front air intakes, kidney grilles, LED light clusters and alloy wheel designs, plus three new body colours. On the inside, a new iDrive 6-powered touchscreen infotainment system is incorporated into a dashboard that features new dash trims, the seats have new upholstery, and there's a new fascia panel that encompasses the central outlets for the climate control. We're repeating the word 'new' here in the hope that'll make it look like more has happened than actually has; even the diehard BMW fan will have a hard time differentiating the old 2 Series from new.

Still, in a cop-out ending to this section of the review, we've always liked the appearance of the 2 Series Coupe, and we particularly like the M240i, so we're not lamenting this cautious approach to the facelift this time. There's something about its very understated appearance that almost makes it more appealing than the M2; it's the Q-car to the M2's unbridled aggression, the Mark Hamill incarnation of The Joker up against the late Heath Ledger's turn as the Clown Prince of Crime, the, er... the family man DS Marcus Burnett to the playboy DS Mike Lowrey. Yes. Ahem. And some people prefer a bit of restraint when it comes to their performance motors. So, in a nutshell, the M240i looks as it ever has done: cool, calm, collected and really rather smashing, all told.

How does it drive?

From an engineering standpoint, BMW has done absolutely nothing to the M240i. It still has the single-turbo 'B58' 3.0-litre motor, that was drafted in during 2016 to replace the old 326hp 'N55' twin-turbo 3.0. If BMW's engine codes bore the backside off you, the simple way of telling what you've got under the bonnet relates to the badging on the car's rump - 'x35i' means the 326hp motor, 'x40i' the newer mill. And while these two engines are statistically and mechanically very similar, we can see why BMW made the switch. Because the B58 is gobsmackingly good.

For starters, put that lowly 5,500rpm point of peak power out of your mind, as this big-hearted six will rev right out to 7,000rpm with no complaints whatsoever. And it backs the pace up with an excellent soundtrack. Hit that redline repeatedly through the first half of the 1,300 eight-speed automatic's ratios, and you'll find you're so quickly deep into three-figure speeds that you'll probably be completely aghast. We drove the M240i in Germany, and it needed only a farcically short distance on congested stretches of Autobahn to hit its speed limiter time and again with an almost derisive ease. Quick? And then some. Objectively, having not driven an M2 for a few months, the M240i feels like it gives absolutely nothing away to its boxy-arched sibling.

And, aside from electrically power-assisted steering that gets flummoxed by rapid direction changes - leaving you with an intermittent yet infuriating dead patch around the straight-ahead - the handling is also magnificent. It's not as taut or focused as the M2, granted, but you could make the argument that this extra suppleness in the suspension actually makes the M240i the more devastating road weapon. It'll cling on at cornering speeds verging on the insane, all the while transmitting masses of information to you via the steering wheel and base of the seat to give you the clearest possible indication of what the BMW is up to. Not that you should be able to exceed its grip levels easily in the dry, because the M240i has the sort of traction that's otherworldly for a car with a rear bias. The balance of the Beemer is tremendous.

Yet, as that sober exterior should tell you, it's extraordinarily adept as an everyday cruiser. On its standard-fit 18-inch wheels, the M240i has no need for recourse to adaptive dampers to provide a supple ride, the BMW cossets its occupants over fairly noticeable ruts and imperfections in the tarmac. It's also admirably hushed when driving it at regular road speeds, with a general tranquillity permeating the cabin, rather than the straining of the engine, or the rushing of wind around the passenger compartment, or the chatter of low-profile tyres rolling along at the corners. In essence, aside from its occasionally befuddled steering, we're almost at a loss to think of any real chinks in the M240i's dynamic armour. It's a bloody little corker, no doubt about that.

Verdict

It's safe to say that we adore the BMW M2 with every fibre of our being, so the fact we're sitting here and basically telling you that the M240i is 99 per cent as good as the wide-arched warrior, but for a gigantic 10,000 saving, should rather tell you in how high esteem we hold this M Performance 2 Series. To have one wonderful, world-class compact performance coupe in a single model line-up is some achievement; to have two, well... it just looks like wanton indulgence on BMW's part. If you've got any doubts at all about Munich losing its edge when it comes to the ultimate driving machines, give the M240i a whirl and you'll be completely sold on having a BMW in your life; preferably, this one.

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

4 4 4 4 4 Interior Ambience

4 4 4 4 4 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Safety

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Comfort

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Driving Dynamics

5 5 5 5 5 Powertrain


Matt Robinson - 21 Jul 2017



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2017 BMW M240i Coupe. Image by BMW.2017 BMW M240i Coupe. Image by BMW.2017 BMW M240i Coupe. Image by BMW.2017 BMW M240i Coupe. Image by BMW.2017 BMW M240i Coupe. Image by BMW.

2017 BMW M240i Coupe. Image by BMW.2017 BMW M240i Coupe. Image by BMW.2017 BMW M240i Coupe. Image by BMW.2017 BMW M240i Coupe. Image by BMW.2017 BMW M240i Coupe. Image by BMW.








 

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