BMW has met what we’d consider its primary objectives, in that it has effortlessly blown away the M240i’s closest rivals, even though in an obscure way the M2 is its biggest threat.
From Audi TTS to Peugeot RCZ R, via Volkswagen Scirocco R and even Nissan 370Z, there isn’t a compact coupé that provides the same blend of handling agility and driver engagement as this. The car is also a huge improvement on the rather blunt, unsatisfying old 135i coupé, it should be noted.
But, as likeable as it is, the M240i isn’t beyond criticism and nor is it quite one of the all-time sporting greats. There are niggles and disappointments in its dynamic mix.
The car’s basic handling is crisp, grippy, muscular and direct. The steering wheel has sensible but plentiful weight but – since BMW's variable-ratio steering system is standard – it picks up pace a little too quickly off-centre to allow the most intuitive kind of control. Nevertheless, on good surfaces the M240i corners flat and hard, with good authority from the front wheels and a good balance of stability and adjustability from the driven rears.
The adaptive M Sport suspension of our test car served it fairly well. But it may be that BMW’s passive standard setting is a better all-occasions bet than any of those available through the adaptive set-up. Because, by polarising those Comfort, Sport and Sport+ modes, BMW has failed to produce a perfect-handling sports car here – as far as we could tell.