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Car reviews - BMW - 2 Series - M240i Coupe

Our Opinion

We like
More supple chassis, amazing engine
Room for improvement
Cramped rear quarter, odd ergonomic omissions

Gallery

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BMW logo28 Sep 2017

By TIM ROBSON

Overview

AT FIRST blush, BMW’s M240i two-door, four-seat coupe looks like it’s a bit of an automotive orphan. It has no real natural competitors save for Porsche’s larger and more expensive Cayman S, and it’s a bit more expensive than its identically engined and arguably more practical five-door sibling, the M140i hatchback.

In fact, on paper it’s a little hard to see how the M240i can cost almost $7000 more than the M140i. But after driving them back-to-back over some of Australia’s toughest roads, the differences become a little more obvious.

Drive impressions

If you’re looking at the spec sheets for the M240i and think you may have seen them before somewhere, you’re right.

Fundamentally, the M240i is identical to the M140i htahcback, especially when you peruse the specs. New-generation B58 3.0-litre straight-six turbocharged engine that makes 250kW and 500Nm? Check. Eight-speed ZF torque-converting automatic transmission? Yep. Rear-wheel drive? Certainly.

Even items like sports seats, 18-inch rims, Dakota leather interior and new iDrive6 multimedia system – still packaged with a jog wheel and button array – along with adaptive LED headlights and adaptive M Sport dampers are shared between the two cars.

It also shares the lack of a rear limited slip diff – and that’s a real pity, because the M240i could go from damn good to sensational if a limited slipper was thrown in.

As with the other cars in the 1 and 2 range, changes to the M240i for its second facelift since its launch in 2014 are minimal, and are restricted to a new multimedia system, new front and rear bumpers, new alloys and some small interior trim tweaks.

As a result, its fundamental character of ‘small car with big engine’ hasn’t changed at all – and if the 2 Series does go all front-wheel-drive for the next generation as is rumoured but far from confirmed, then the M240i may well represent one of the last chances to get a genuinely sporting rear-drive two-door BMW.

After a couple of solid stints aboard a M140i across some of Tasmania’s toughest back roads, we thoroughly expected that things would be not so different aboard the M240i. And boy, were we wrong.

Even though its mechanical package is bolt-for-bolt the same, the way the M240i handles its prodigious torque – particularly through the rear end – is utterly different… and a lot more polished.

Put it down to more weight positioned higher over the back axles in the 140i.

Or the fact that the two-door body side structure on the M240i is probably slightly more pliable than the pillared-up M140i.

Whatever the reason, the M240i can be finessed more precisely than the four-door across tricky terrain, and the rear end is more faithful and stable when the road turns into stutter bump hell.

The stock ZF eight-speed auto is impressively quick and responsive with its shifts even though the M240i can be had with a no-cost six-speed manual, you’re missing exactly nothing going for the slushbox option.

Whereas the M140i’s secrets were harder to unlock, and a much higher level of commitment was asked of you, the M240i is much, much more accessible, and every bit as quick. More weight in the electric steering would be nice, and a self-tightening rear end would help that turn-in, too… but then it would be getting perilously close to the abilities of the more potent M2.

In fact, while the M2 is truly one of the finest machines to wear an M badge in recent decades, don’t feel too despondent if your leasing package can only extend to a M240i. Sure, you miss out on a lot of the theatre, but a compact, rear-drive, big-engined two-door coupe is still a rarity in this FWD/AWD world.

So the M240i is worth the extra dollars over the M140i, thanks to the better inherent chassis balance of the two-door car. It also paints a unique ownership picture that may not be able to be replicated going forward. If you’ve got a soft spot for quick little BMW two-doors, take it from us this will be a future classic.

Note: Images are of the international version

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