From £27,0559
M division attention gives Munich's smallest two-door model serious performance and dynamic ability

What is it?

This is the all-new BMW M240i xDrive Coupé, which in terms of on-paper specification is the sort of car that we can get along with, and get along famously with at that.

It’s a machine that BMW’s engineers fought hard to deliver: a compact, low-slung, two-door coupé built on a bespoke platform with a longitudinally mounted six-cylinder engine that’s bolted to a heavily rear-biased four-wheel drive system. 

In many ways, it’s so far removed from recent rush by manufacturers to deliver ever more EVs and SUVs that it’s incredible the car was given the green light by the bosses. Yet we’re very glad they did, because, as we’ve already discovered during a brief drive abroad, the flagship version of the all-new BMW 2 Series Coupé is a bit of a corker. 

The question is, does it stack up on the UK’s more challenging roads?

What's it like?

Well, the initial signs are promising, the M240i giving off all the right vibes even at a standstill. With its muscular haunches and taut lines, it has a real street-fighter swagger, with a squat, wheel-at-each-corner stance that hints at a quick-witted agility. 

The beautifully built interior is good, too, with a hunkered-down driving position that places you at the centre of the action, plus just enough space for four. Better still, the dashboard is lifted straight out of the BMW 3 Series, so you get a nice balance of screens and traditional switchgear. It’s easier to operate on-the-fly than the latest, smartphone-inspired iDrive 8 system that features on the BMW i4 and BMW iX.

By using a cut down version of its rear-drive CLAR architecture, BMW has been able to squeeze in a heavily revised version of the old M240i’s B58 turbocharged 3.0-litre six-pot, helping give it a real underbonnet USP compared with its largely four-cylinder rivals. It’s a punchy old unit too, packing 368bhp, 369lb ft and a 0-62mph time of just 4.3sec. For context, those numbers are pretty much identical to those of the original M2. This, then, is a serious piece of kit. 

It certainly feels it on the move, responding keenly (almost too keenly in Sport driving mode) to the throttle, punching hard from little more than idle, before really getting into its stride above 4000rpm, when the BMW accelerates with nearly the same ferocity as the old M2 Competition, even if it doesn’t sound as good. There’s a decent amount of grit and growl when it’s worked hard, but there’s also a curious synthesised quality that will be familiar to owners of the identically engined Toyota GR Toyota Supra.

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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. 

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Should I buy one?

The M240i isn’t quite as raw and thrilling as a pure-bred M car, but it’s not that far off and pretty much as quick where it counts. Arguably, it’s broader dynamic envelope will make it more appealing to many, who will appreciate its ability to mooch as effortlessly as the 220i yet also serve up some serious driver thrills when you’re in the mood to let your hair down.

It also looks the part and boasts an interior that’s not only cosseting, lavishly equipped and oozing premium appeal but also decently practical. Then there’s the price, which at £45,795 either matchs or undercuts rivals that can’t match it for muscle or depth of ability.

However, it does beg the question of how BMW is going to approach the next M2, because in terms of urge and ability, if not all-out engagement, there’s now not much clear air between the M240i and the bigger, more expensive BMW M4 Coupé.

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racey1979 13 March 2022

"Twin turbocharged". No it's not, the B58 has one turbo. 

405line 7 March 2022

It seems like BMW are trying to get as many people into the "M universe" as they economically can afford to, which is nice of them or I'm being a bit naive. Reminds me of the old "boy racer on shoestring budget" type vehicle.