Car reviews - BMW - 2 Series - M240i Coupe
Smooth manual gearbox, strong six-cylinder performance, purpose-built chassis, grippy Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber
Room for improvement
A little too clinical around corners, tight second row, in-cabin exhaust note not loud enough, costs more than before
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1 Feb 2018
STUCK between a rock and hard place – it is an old adage we have heard many times before. But this term perfectly applies to the BMW M240i Coupe. Why? This model has few, if any, competitors on the the Australia new-vehicle market, meaning it is a victim of inter-brand rivalry.
In one corner is the now-even cheaper M140i that packs the same powertrain and drivetrain combination, while the other corner is occupied by the bahn-storming M2 Pure which threatens with its wholly M pedigree.
So, following a mid-life facelift, what has changed with the M240i Coupe? Is it better placed to outpoint its siblings and claim ultimate bragging rights? Or do its stablemates offer better bang for your buck? Read on to find out.
Price and equipment
Following its facelift – or Life Cycle Impulse (LCI) in BMW language – the M240i Coupe jumped in price by $1900, to $76,800 before on-road costs. This increase was a bit of a disappointment considering the awfully similar M140i received a $4910 price cut, to $59,990, at the same time.
Pricing grievances aside, the M240i has a decent list of standard equipment, including 18-inch alloy wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres (225/40 front, 245/35 rear), an M Sport braking package, adaptive LED headlights, tweaked LED tail-lights, high-gloss Shadow Line exterior trim and an M Sport bodykit.
Inside, features extend to an 8.8-inch Navigation Professional display powered by BMW’s iDrive6 infotainment system, satellite navigation with live traffic, digital radio, dual-zone climate control, an M Sport steering wheel, front power sports seats with memory function, an anthracite roofliner, a power sunroof, anti-dazzle rearview and side mirrors, keyless entry and start, a 12-speaker Harman Kardon surround sound system, seat heating, and adaptive M suspension.
Our test car was fitted with the no-cost option of a six-speed manual gearbox with rev-matching functionality, which came in place of the standard eight-speed ZF automatic transmission. It was also finished in optional Estoril Blue metallic paint, which looks amazing in the metal.
While you would be hard pressed to spot the differences externally, most of the changes to the M240i have occurred inside. Cabin quality has been elevated with the addition of a redesigned dashboard with stitching, Pearl Chrome trim finishers, chrome-trimmed window buttons and a high-gloss black centre console.
However, the most obvious addition is the new black-panel instrument cluster that incorporates a small colour display for various functions. When the ignition is switched off, the instrument cluster appears to be fully digital but shutdown, even though it is not – such is the impressiveness of the Amazon Kindle-like technology.
These minor upgrades have gone some way in lifting the interior’s ambience, although it still does not possess the flashiness of similarly priced models from other brands. Otherwise, the M240i is a familiar proposition to its predecessor, offering a mixture of soft-touch plastics with harder panels.
While not necessarily designed with the comfort of rear occupants in mind, the M240i’s two-seat second row is a cramped and unforgiving experience. During one multi-hour trip, we had both rear seats occupied by adult males and the verdict was less than favourable. Headroom and legroom are at a premium, meaning if you are anywhere near six-foot tall, it will not be a pleasant journey. Best be calling shotgun on the front passenger seat, we say.
Our test car had the no-cost option of cloth and Alcantara Hexagon upholstery, in place of the standard Dakota leather trim. In our opinion, the former is a no-brainer for this type of car as it adds to the sporty ambience while providing more comfort – particularly true during a hot summer’s day when leather will sear your back and bottom upon contact.
Meanwhile, BMW’s iDrive infotainment system is still brilliant, especially in its new sixth-generation form that creates more distance between it and its competitors. Graphics are clear and concise, operation is direct and logical, and functionality is top-notch. Despite its growing pains, iDrive has become a dependable winner.
Engine and transmission
Powered by a 3.0-litre B58 turbocharged six-cylinder petrol engine, the M240i produces 250kW of power at 5500rpm and 500Nm of torque from to 1520 to 4500rpm.
Both are considerably meaty outputs considering the two-door’s size.
This powertrain is an absolute peach in almost any application, and it is the same story here. Sir Isaac comes on hard and early, pushing the M240i towards peak power with ease. This is the type of unit that you want to wring out constantly, because it delivers time and again – especially when mated to a rear-wheel-drive layout. What is the perfect dancing partner for an engine like this? A six-speed manual gearbox, of course.
Combining a short clutch pedal with a high release point, this self-shifter is set up for success. Smooth, precise gear shifts characterise this manual effort, in fact they are so good that you can feel in total control from the get go. There is no clutch mastery required here. If this gearbox is not old school enough, BMW has thrown in a hand-operated park brake for good measure.
Not everything has to be automated these days.
This three-pedal set-up also incorporates rev-matching functionality that smooths out gear changes if the driver is not adept with the heel-and-toe action. Depending on your viewpoint, the automatic throttle blips can be an absolute hoot, especially when braking hard around a corner. But the purists will say how this is sacrilege – we’ll let you make up your own mind.
Exhaust noise is definitely there, so long as the windows are down and the sunroof is open. It’s slightly disappointing as we would have hoped an M Performance model like the M240i Coupe would bring some of the aural drama experienced in the full-blown M2. Crackles and pops are present on the overrun, but they are simply not loud enough to penetrate the cabin. Granted the M240i is a softer version of the M2, but can we get a little more noise, please?
Claimed to complete the zero-to-100km/h sprint in 4.7 seconds, the M240i drinks 7.4 litres of premium unleaded (95) per 100 kilometre on the combined cycle test while emitting 169 grams per km of carbon dioxide. During our time with the M240i, we averaged 10.1L/100km with a mix of city and highway driving over the two-week Christmas and New Years period. While 36.5 per cent higher than BMW’s claim, our fuel consumption figure seems about right when factoring in some ‘spirited’ driving.
Ride and handling
The M240i features variable sport steering, meaning it is speed-sensitive. In the real world, this translates to impressive directness at lower speeds and stability at triple figures – both of which are desired with a sportscar. As is BMW’s trademark, the steering is on the heavier side and provides a great connection with the road, even if it is electrically assisted and not hydraulic. A thick-rimmed steering wheel that is delightful in hand further enhances the M240i’s prowess around bends.
Handling-wise, the addition of Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres has given the M240i an edge around corners. Simply put, this car sticks to the ground, even when oversteer is encouraged for some rear-wheel antics. The result is confidence inspiring, as the driver never feels like it is out of hand. That being said, the M240i is so unruffled that some of its would-be front-engined, rear-wheel-drive fun is missing.
Riding on an adaptive M Sport suspension that sits 10mm lower than its 2 Series siblings, the M240i is relatively supple on sealed surfaces but can feel unsettled on coarser stretches. That being said, it is composed at all times and never feels out of control. A lot of this is owed to the 2 Series’ purpose-built chassis that gives it a dynamic edge over its passenger-car-first, sportscar-second 1 Series stablemates.
Meanwhile, the ventilated disc brakes with blue-coloured, M-branded callipers (four- and two-piston at the front and rear respectively) provide strong stopping power and remain up for the task after a good pounding.
Four driving modes – Eco, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ – allow the driver to adjust steering, engine, gearbox, suspension and chassis settings on the fly, with the latter two naturally offering the most fun. When Sport is selected, the M240i feels noticeably tighter around corners, thanks to a flatter ride and heavier steering. Sport+ takes this a step further by automatically ‘switching off’ the traction control system to allow a little more rear-end action.
Conversely, Comfort is docile and, dare we say, comfortable around town. Its lighter steering tune means parking is effortless. What about Eco? Well, if that is the mode you want to select, you have missed the point the M240i is trying to make.
Safety and servicing
The BMW 2 Series Coupe range – including the M240i – is yet to be tested by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) or its overseas counterparts since its introduction in 2014.
The M240i Coupe’s safety and driver-assist technologies extend to a reversing camera, front and rear parking sensors, lane departure warning, forward collision warning, speed limit recognition, tyre pressure monitoring, rain-sensing wipers, and high-beam assist, as well as six airbags (dual front and side up front, dual side only at rear).
Unfortunately, manual M240is miss out on a few key features that their automatic counterparts have, such as autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian detection, and adaptive cruise control.
All BMW models come with a three-year/unlimited-kilometre new-vehicle warranty, which covers paintwork and provides roadside assistance during the same period.
A five-year/80,000km capped-price servicing program is available for 2 Series variants, costing $1395 (including GST), with service intervals pegged at one year or 15,000km.
While the M240i Coupe automatic is great in its own right and easy to live with, there is a certain unrivalled charm that this manual version offers.
Having one of the sweetest gearboxes in the game today certainly help its cause.
While BMW did not exactly blow anyone away with the rather mild 2 Series facelift, it did well to address several of the pre-facelift model’s shortcomings. Namely, the interior received a well-deserved spruce up, even though it still trails most of its rivals in that department.
Other than the cabin, the M240i is pretty much business as usual. Solid sportscar chassis? Check. Sublime six-cylinder powerplant? Check. Top-notch steering? Check. You get the idea – if ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
However, the M240i Coupe’s main issue is sibling rivalry. It costs $16,810 more than the M140i, which provides nearly all of the same thrills for a considerable chunk less. At the other end is the M2 Pure which asks for an extra $16,500 but offers the raw M experience that enthusiasts are after.
So is the M240i worth the extra spend over the M140i, or should one fork out even more for the M2 Pure? If the budget is tighter, you cannot go wrong with the M140i. But if you have funds to burn, it is hard to ignore the M2 Pure. In any event, all three models are dead-set winners, it just depends how much capital you have. One of each, please?
BMW M140i from $59,990 before on-road costs
The aforementioned M140i is arguably the best performance bargain in Australia right now. With the same 250kW/500Nm 3.0-litre turbo-petrol six-cylinder powerplant as its M240i Coupe sibling, it certainly packs a familiar punch, albeit without the corresponding dynamic sharpness.
Nissan 370Z Nismo from $61,490 before on-road costs
While the 370Z is an ageing model, the new Nismo flagship has breathed new life into it. Grippy and direct around corners, the Japanese sportscar has a flexible and linear engine but is let down by a skittish ride on rough surfaces.
BMW M2 Pure from $93,300 before on-road costs
Another inter-brand rival, the M2 Pure begs the question: Why not go the whole way? It is a full-fat M model that dials the M240i Coupe’s dynamic edge up to 11, and has a more potent 272kW 3.0-litre powertrain. Hard to ignore, right?
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