The new BMW M240i coupe made for one of the more memorable test drives of the year.
The 2 Series is the smallest of the German marque’s model lines — but I’m going to suggest it is the one most true to what makes a car a BMW. Remember, this is a company that built its reputation first on the 2002 followed by the 3 Series, which established the sports sedan benchmark for decades.
The current 3 Series sedans and 4 Series coupes have deviated from the purity that the old 3 represented. They’re great cars in their class, but the class members as a group have gone upmarket — a little less connected and a little more luxurious than their predecessors.
So, for anyone who, like me, has long admired what the 3 Series represented, we can officially be thankful the company has brought us the 2.
As long as you’re happy with two doors on your ride, that is.
Kicking things off is the rear-drive 230i, which starts at $38,050 and gets its motivation from a 2.0-litre turbocharged four cylinder.
Its 248 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque do just fine, good for a factory-claimed zero-to-100-km/h sprint in just 5.6 seconds.
But we’re not here for “just fine,” and we like our BMWs with the silky inline-six engines that made the company what it is today.
That brings us to this M240i — one of the more memorable test drives I’ve had this year.
The six-pot is irresistibly smooth; its twin-scroll turbo churning out 335 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of twist.
Our tester also came with rear-wheel drive (all-wheelers are available with either engine) and a proper six-speed manual gearbox (which is not available with AWD).
You may have noticed the M prefix here. This isn’t a true BMW M — that honour belongs to the range-topping M2.
The M240i is instead a member of the slightly milder M Performance line. But don’t misunderstand, this is no poseur and has the performance cred to stand on its own as a desirable option in the lineup.
M Performance bridges the gap between the entry-level trims and the true M cars.
In the case of the M240i, that means zero-to-100 sprints are completed in 4.6 seconds and are accompanied by an intoxicating duet from that turbo six and our tester’s optional M Performance exhaust.
But it’s not just about off-the-line performance here. It’s about steering, which is electromechanically assisted and gets variable ratios for quick turn in. It’s about suspension, which puts this car 10 millimetres lower than the base car and benefits from shorter springs and stiffer dampers.
The result is a car I couldn’t wait to get in and drive. Winding that sweet six through the rev range is a pleasure, but entirely unnecessary thanks to its swell of torque available at any engine speed — a swell that, when prodded, had the rear tires scrambling for grip even at 80 km/h in third gear.
Bringing the car down from speed was just as confidence-inspiring. Powerful brakes are activated through a pedal with firm feel and linear response.
It’s traits such as this that seem so straightforward when they’re experienced, yet are seldom matched by most.
Our tester started life at $51,100, which for this calibre of refined performance strikes me as a bit of a bargain.
Our tester was heavy on options, though, and I’d tick most of these boxes if I were configuring one for myself. There’s the enhanced premium package, which adds a sunroof, navigation, parking sensors and satellite radio. Check. Driver assistance package, which has adaptive headlights with automatic high beams. That one’s a maybe. And then, there are stand-alone options such as the performance exhaust, Harmon Kardon audio and that distinctive sunset-orange metallic paint. Yes, yes and yes.
All told, our tester rang the register at $61,300 before destination and taxes. Still, a pretty special car for not too pretty a penny. This is one BMW that tailors to its driver better than the larger, more expensive vehicles in the lineup.
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The enhanced premium package adds a sunroof, navigation, parking sensors and satellite radio.
The driver assistance package includes adaptive headlights with automatic high beams, while performance exhaust, Harmon Kardon audio and sunset-orange metallic paint are stand-alone options. (BMW)