Sporty, svelte and savage, the BMW M240i xDrive may be just what the doctor ordered.
BMW have made us all wait a bit launch of their latest M2, but blessed us with this stop-gap to keep us busy. It’s compact and sporty, as you would expect, but with one or two unique – if divisive – tricks up its sleeve.
The M240i xDrive rolls the modern coupé up in inspiration from the classic BMW 2 Series from decades ago, and sets it all atop the same larger platform as the current 4 Series, with all the modern conveniences that offers.
Power and might
As this is kind of an all-wheel-drive M2-lite, you get a healthy 285 kW, 500 Nm of torque and a claimed 0-to-100 in 4.3 seconds, which is only 0.2 seconds behind the full-cream M2 (but they are actually both faster than that anyway). The M240i xDrive also gets all the M-sport stuff you could want – seats, suspension, braking, rear differential – for optimal driver dynamics.
All of this results in a car that is even more stable through the corners, goes exactly where you point it and feels effortlessly planted. The weight distribution is roughly 50:50, too, so the car feels particularly well-balanced whatever you’re doing.
One of Beemers Best
As befits a car of that parentage, the M240i is defined by its bold, direct lines and compact proportions. The long bonnet, short rear and short overhangs place it somewhere in the sports coupé – grand tourer arena. Probably the most direct nod to the previous model, this car also has single headlight units (LEDs, of course).
The M240i is a foot longer and 20cm wider than its 1970s forebear; it is also a few centimetres larger than the previous 2 Series coupé in every dimension except height – sitting 28mm lower. This low stance, along with the M-specific front and rear aprons, spoiler and 19-inch alloys, lends the car a wonderfully athletic appearance, and pays dividends out on the road. Our pick of the colours (and BMW’s – judging by the marketing material) is ‘Thundernight Metallic’, a deep, rich purple.
Inside, it’s all the modern BMW you know and love. The M-sport seats are brilliant and supportive, and can even be electrically adjusted to hug you tighter. There’s stuff like ambient lighting, a Harman Kardon sound system and wireless phone-charging, and everything else you would expect at this point, as well as a head-up display, but we think this is one you buy for the performance.
The M240i eschews the DCT (dual clutch transmission) setups typical of sporty offerings and sticks instead with BMW’s beloved 8-speed ZF torque-converter automatic (with paddle shifters for added driver involvement). Much ado has been made of this in the past, with dual-clutch systems often being perceived as faster and more modern, but ZF reckons the shifting in their new gearboxes is ‘imperceptible’ – and I can corroborate that. Another thing a torque converter has going for it is masses of low-end torque, as displayed here – the 500 Nm of peak torque is available from 1 800 rpm all the way to 5 000 rpm.
Couple that with the all-wheel-drive system and an intuitive launch process, and you get a compact, powerful car that punches well above its weight and puts down its power very effectively. From (completely legal) experience, we can tell you that it wins some races you would not expect it to – that’s probably down to the easy launch process (brake, rev, go), not skill, but still, this thing will surprise you. All in all, a fantastic car if you can get your hands on one.
In a nutshell
Highs: Incredible balance and stability, value for money.
Lows: Not quite as nuts as the M2d.
- Engine: 2 998 cc, inline six-cylinder turbo petrol
- Power: 285 kW 500 Nm • Performance: 0–100 km/h in 4.3 seconds
- Top speed: 250 km/h
- Luggage capacity: 381–1 287 litres
- Tyres: 235/35/r19
- Fuel capacity: 50 litres
- Economy: 9.7 litres/100 km
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
- Co2 emissions: 185g/km
- Price: Around R1 163 600
Words by: Rhynhardt Krynauw