Point the BMW’s power-bulged nose at a corner and you will discover the M2 comparisons aren’t limited to its ability to demolish straights. The meaty steering doesn’t offer quite as much feedback, but it’s accurate and has a near perfect rate of response, which in combination with cast-iron control from the adaptive dampers (there are Comfort and Sport settings, plus an automatic Adaptive mode) allows you to load up the chassis just so.
There’s bags of front-end bite and the car takes a nicely neutral mid-corner stance, but there’s also the option to quickly alter your line if you’re feeling frisky. Squeeze the throttle hard and you will get a subtle smear of power oversteer, aided by the trick electronic limited-slip differential at the rear, before the xDrive system feeds torque forwards for a secure, slingshot exit.
On give-and-take roads, few cars can cover ground as quickly as this BMW, or serve up as much devil-may-care, old-fashioned entertainment.
Dial everything back and the M240i is a surprising sybarite. Even with the standard adaptive dampers in their softest setting, the ride is still firm, particularly over sharper imperfections, but it’s rarely uncomfortable and far more cosseting than the M2. Noise levels are low too, and on long runs the BMW does a passable impression of a miniature grand tourer.
And the downsides? Well, the eight-speed automatic gearbox offers crisp and quick shifts, but we can’t help but wish that, like the old car, there were a manual option. Oh, and while the brakes offer good outright stopping power, they lack confidence-inspiring initial bite and suffer from a surprisingly long pedal.
Yet these are niggles rather than deal-breakers, because overall the M240i is a real riot to drive. Plus, at a smidge under £46,000, it offers unrivalled performance per pound.