Over the last 15 years, the cars that have best recalled the BMWs of generations gone by have been the tiny 1 Series and 2 Series.
With their compact dimensions, taut suspensions, straight-six engines, and manual transmissions, they’ve been fun, frisky cars that set enthusiasts’ hearts aflutter. Sure, there have been plenty of higher performing BMWs – the big M cars in particular – but the littlest Bimmer coupes are the cars that most remind us of the Ultimate Driving Machine years.
This year, the 2022 BMW M240i gets more power and performance than ever before, but it only comes in an all-wheel drive configuration and, more crucially, only with an automatic transmission. Well, my fellow enthusiasts, we have no one to blame but ourselves, since estimates peg the take rate on the previous M240i with a stick shift at less than 10 per cent. The good news is there’s still plenty of fun to be had behind the wheel of this 2 Series coupe.
Driving Feel: 8.5/10
The new M240i is still a wickedly fun car to drive. Besides, the venerable eight-speed automatic transmission is an excellent gearbox that offers wonderfully smooth shifts during normal driving, yet sizzling immediacy when called upon. There are paddle shifters, too, but when left to its own devices in sport or sport+ modes, there’s little need to call upon them.
Better still, the M240i’s handling remains one of its strengths. Despite being fitted with smaller 18-inch wheels wrapped in Pirelli winter tires, this tester’s poise and balance, even when pushed to shenanigan cornering speeds, couldn’t be upset. The all-wheel drive system doles out the torque where it’s best utilized, and the electronic limited-slip differential, relatively short wheelbase, and adaptive suspension unite to give the M240i tremendous grip and nimbleness.
The steering is quick, too, reinforcing the BMW’s eagerness at directional change, but the feel that used to tell drivers exactly what the rubber was doing where it meets the road is mostly absent now. The squishier winter rubber can possibly be blamed for some of that aloofness, if not all the steering’s numbness.
Meanwhile, the brakes offer tenacious bite and serious stopping power. Perhaps the most impressive feat is that BMW’s chassis engineers managed to make the M240i feel like such a nimble little sports coupe, despite a curb weight that’s risen to 1,756 kg (3,871 lb).
Truthfully, that’s a grotesque amount of weight for a sports machine this size, and yet the mass is hidden not only by the suspension tune, but also the brute force available from the engine. Powered by the inline six-cylinder mill found in several other BMW models, it’s tuned to dispense with 369 lb-ft of torque (the same as last year’s M240i), and 382 hp (a 47-hp increase). All together, it can rocket the car from rest to 100 km/h in a claimed 4.3 seconds. I wouldn’t at all be surprised to hear that it’s a conservative figure, either. This is a ferociously quick car, made even more so thanks to the availability of peak torque from 1,800 to 5,000 rpm, giving the M240i incredible responsiveness regardless of whether you’re puttering along, or keeping the revs up.
Fuel Economy: 7/10
BMW has yet to publish fuel consumption ratings for the 2022 M240i at the time of this writing, however, after a week of driving that included a mix of urban crawling, highway commuting, and as much back-road hustling as possible, the BMW showed an overall average consumption rate of 8.9 L/100 km. For a nearly 400-hp sports coupe, that’s a decently frugal rate, but premium fuel is called for.
The M240i’s modest fuel consumption rate and stellar all-wheel drive system add to its usability as a daily driver, requiring fewer fuel stops than, say, a Mustang GT, and far better traction in the winter. It has split-folding rear seats, but at 283 L the trunk is notably smaller than last year’s M240i cargo hold, or that of the Mustang. Of course, having a back seat at all puts it ahead of a similarly-priced Toyota Supra, but the new M240i’s rear headroom has been reduced so much this year that it’s now actually slightly less than a Mustang’s. A Volkswagen Golf R offers both more passenger and luggage practicality, albeit in a hatchback package.
Unfortunately, those reduced rear seat dimensions mean that the two passengers stuffed back there had better be of pretty short stature, lest they strain their necks trying to fit beneath the roof line. But it’s a different story up front. There’s plenty of space for driver and passenger, and climbing into and out of the BMW isn’t nearly as challenging as it is in something lower like the Supra. The front seats are firm and well-bolstered to keep a driver in place during spirited driving, but they’re also supportive in all the right places to keep occupants comfy, even after many hours behind the wheel.
The ride quality varies between firm and really firm, depending on whether the adaptive suspension is set to comfort or sport modes, but then buyers of sports coupes should expect a taut suspension. Despite its firmness, the M240i takes the harshness out of all but the nastiest of potholes.
Intended as the entry point to BMW’s family of sporty coupes, the M240i (and later 230i) are the most affordable coupes offered (as long as we discount the not-really-a-coupe 2 Series Gran Coupe). Accordingly for a premium brand car, my tester had plenty of features, including a high-end sound system, on-board navigation and Wi-Fi, head-up display, and wireless charging for smartphones – though most of those goodies were options. A sunroof and keyless access were part of an option group, as well, but at least the heated sport seats were standard.
The lack of adaptive cruise control in my test car was surprising given that many economy cars now come equipped with that feature as part of an active safety suite, though it is available as an option. BMW does fit the M240i with forward collision warning and automated braking system, as well as a lane departure warning, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic alert, plus really good LED head- and tail lights.
User Friendliness: 7/10
Complementing the comfort and support of the M240i’s front seats, the driving position and outward vision are quite good, with enough side and rear glass to prevent some of the massive blind spots afforded by the swoopy styling of many other sports cars.
Ergonomically, the new 2 Series shares its layout with pretty well every other contemporary BMW. The control placement, chunky steering wheel, and digital gauge package are common across the brand these days, and those familiar with BMW’s infotainment interface will find no surprises here. It’s a system that has matured into the refined and easy-to-use set up it is today, offering a wide screen, sharp graphics, and both touchscreen and rotary-knob controls. Smartphone integration can be done wirelessly, although I’ve yet to find a manufacturer that can get my aging iPhone to do so reliably without a cable attached, including this system that was prone to glitching.
While the lack of manual transmission has garnered some moaning amongst the armchair automotive critics, a far more vocal contingent seems to be levelling their complaints at the new M240i’s styling. Most offensive seem to be the rear lights that are pushed to the outer corners of the car – a look that, to my eye, simply gives the little coupe the impression of a wider stance befitting a sporty car.
Up front, BMW’s stylists have broken with modern tradition of the four distinct headlights going to a pair of lights reportedly to pay homage to the classic BMW 2002 models of the 1970s. The twin-kidney grilles’ vertical slats are opening and closing air flaps, and there’s been a universal sigh of relief that the 2 Series didn’t inherit the M3 and M4’s controversial vertical grill design.
It’s an undeniably aggressive look, with the flared fenders and M-car style power bulge in the hood, and the long nose to short rear deck giving it a traditional BMW sports coupe profile. It’s one I liked a lot more in person than in the photos. And that purple paint (called Thundernight Metallic) looks absolutely sensational when all polished up.
The interior is serious and typical BMW without much flamboyance or flourish to the shapes, textures, or colours, but it also means that it won’t age quickly as the current trends go out of style. The one exception is the tricolour panel on the doors associated with BMW’s motorsports division; not only does it look like digital fish scales, but it lights up. Very cool.
Like most BMW models, the key to keeping the M240i a decent value is to be very careful with the option list. I’d be happy to skip some of the niceties in my test car, like the keyless access, the digital gauge display, the sunroof, and even the upgraded sound system, as well as the frivolous trim pieces that ratchet up the costs quickly. The $56,950 starting price has everything I need, short of adding the $750 Adaptive M Suspension option, and I’d be a happy camper on leatherette seats. Still, with a base price closing in on $60,000, there are other cars that will offer similarly scintillating performance and more features for the same or less money.
For those looking for a solid, seriously fun performance machine that’s as at home carving corners as it is commuting to the office, the 2022 BMW M240i is an even better option now than it used to be. Despite its lack of stick shift, it still does a pretty good job of embodying what enthusiasts have loved about BMW’s small sporty coupes for so many years with ample handling, power, and style.
|Engine Cylinders||Turbo I6|
|Peak Horsepower||382 hp @ 5,800–6,500 rpm|
|Peak Torque||369 lb-ft @ 1,800–5,000 rpm|
|Fuel Economy||N/A, 8.9 L/100 km observed|
|Cargo Space||283 L|
|Model Tested||2022 BMW M240i xDrive|
|Price as Tested||$71,175|
$11,645 – Premium Enhanced Package, $5,000; Universal Garage Door Opener, $300; Adaptive M Suspension, $750; Shadowline Headlights, $500; M Highlighters, Illuminated, $250; High-Gloss Black Exterior Contents, $350; BMW Live Cockpit Professional, $1,000; Wireless Charging, $350; Metallic paint, $895; Aluminum trim, $250; Leather seating, $1,500; Black painted wheels,