BMW’s new 2 Series coupe is bigger, heavier and more expensive than the car it replaces, but it still provides plenty of excitement for less than $100,000
The previous-generation ‘F22’ BMW M240i represented a real high point for modern-era BMW: it was genuinely small in size despite packing a straight-six engine, rear-wheel drive, two doors, and the option of a manual transmission.
Now, there’s another M240i coupe, upgraded and upsized to sit on BMW’s sophisticated Cluster Architecture (CLAR) platform that underpins bigger and more refined cars like the 3 Series sedan, 4 Series two-door and even the X7 large SUV.
So long the right-sized F22: enter the two-door 2 Series for the 2020s measuring 60mm longer, 81mm wider and weighing 230kg more (1690kg) than the vehicle it replaces, we’ve feared that the G42 M240i – which now packs all-wheel drive – would become unnecessarily more mature.
Not all upsizing is bad, though: a new platform brings new hard points, and the 2022 M240i’s 31mm wider rear tracks that nearly match those of the well-regarded M2 Competition (1600mm), while ride height falls by 4mm. And don’t forget that vehicles based on CLAR have rated well in our testing – and the underpinnings of the two-door 2 Series are totally different to the underwhelming, four-door front-drive 2 Series Gran Coupe. Confusing!
The other number that has gone up is the price, with the now-AWD (previously RWD) M240i grade asking $89,900 before on-road costs – $8000 more than the previous generation. That said, BMW dealers still let you negotiate, unlike Mercedes-Benz Australia’s new-for-2022 national fixed price model.
There is reportedly a new rear-wheel drive M240i model in the works that should cost about $4000 less – though this is not confirmed for Australian release. What we do know, though, is that the old six-speed manual will not make a return: an eight-speed auto is now the sole transmission.
Moving to AWD matches the premium small performance car segment trend right now with tough all-paw rivals such as the transverse-engined Mercedes-AMG A45 S ($99,895) and Audi RS3 sedan ($94,700) all doing it – importantly, BMW’s xDrive system in this longitudinally-engined 2 Series is the only one of that class which sends power to the rear first and then the front when needed.
Initial impressions of the new 2 Series were mixed – the new coupe doesn’t photograph well from the rear three-quarter but when you see the low-set two-door in the flesh with its frameless doors it’s hard not to fall in love – especially when wearing ‘Thundernight metallic’ purple paint ($1700).
What a photo can’t capture is just how extreme the fender blistering is on the new M240i, not to mention the bulging bonnet that looks very much like the M2 CS’s carbon item (though the M240i’s is steel and has no vents). The detailing is great too, with the same aerodynamic in-set door handles as the 4 Series Gran Coupe that hark back to the 90s obsession with aerodynamic efficiency.
As impressive as a purple M240i xDrive looks in the flesh, what really matters is how this two-door BMW drives. The start button on the centre console wakes the ‘B58’ 3.0-litre turbo-petrol inline-six with a smooth flare of revs followed by subtle pops on the overrun as it settles down to a smooth idle. It’s a sound that excites – yet relaxes at the same time.
Switching the M240i into its Sport drive mode unlocks yet more burble from the exhaust and sharpens the throttle response. There’s also a Sport Plus mode, as this is an M Performance model, but you don’t get the quick-engage, configurable M1 and M2 mode buttons found on a full-fat M car. Still, Sport gives you a configurable setting for the adaptive dampers, shift programming, engine response and steering weight.
With the transmission in Sport Plus the M240i rams the ZF eight-speed automatic’s changes home with a satisfying hit in the back as the turbo spools up for another punch of acceleration. The M240i has a pleasing relentlessness to its power delivery, not peaky like turbos of old but a hefty muscularity that shoves you back into the supportive seat.
Peak outputs are up over the outgoing car, with 285kW of power available at 5800rpm (European cars are 10kW down due to the fitment of a petrol particulate filter) and 500Nm of torque in an immense spread from 1900-5000rpm. Combined with the AWD system’s prodigious grip the M240i is quick: in fact, it’s only a tenth behind a DCT-equipped M2 Competition to 0-100km/h in recording a 4.3 second time according to BMW.
A base model 220i grade with less power and rear-wheel drive is available from $61,900. The entry-level 2 Series coupe features a B48 turbo petrol four-cylinder making 135kW/300Nm while being handily 200kg lighter. We haven’t had a chance to drive the entry 2 Series yet, but its more delicate on-paper stats suggest that though it lacks the outright firepower of the 240i, it may be a sweet back-to-basics package for keen drivers.
The M240i feels more alert than the 4 Series that it shares its engine, underpinnings and transmission with, which is interesting given that at 1690kg this 2 Series is only 50kg lighter than the physically larger M440i xDrive – though the M240i has a footprint on the road that is is about six percent smaller.
Part of the edgier nature of the 240i comes from its 110mm shorter wheelbase (2451mm), which sharpens turn in and makes the little coupe feel crisper than the midsized 4 Series. There is a noticeable wieldiness to the 2er on country backroads, which when combined with the strong six-cylinder engine and rear-biased AWD system makes the M240i devastatingly quick.
No longer do you have to deal with the old 240i’s slightly wayward back axle that was always crying out for a limited-slip differential (a feature this car has fitted as standard). A rear-drive version would amp the excitement further, but the xDrive AWD system makes this car’s performance effortlessly accessible.
The few letdowns to the M240i’s driving dynamics are the car’s standard Pirelli P Zero tyres that after only a few corners lose stickiness to the point that the car is less chuckable and requires more delicate and precise steering – which shows up the relatively numb steering feel more acutely. The four-piston front brake calipers are powerful but the brake pedal lacks the crisp responses of a fully-fledged M car.
Even with the narrow 225/40 R19 front tyres not gripping like the best out there, the xDrive AWD system is clearly rear-biased, consistently over-rotating the the 255/35-shod rear wheels before catching you – it’s like rear-drive for dummies! Plus, if you want a rear-drive coupe on BMW’s CLAR platform with a straight-six, there’s always the Toyota Supra…
Ultimately, the M240i xDrive won’t trouble a Supra or M2 on track: it’s softer and more of a grand tourer. But the suspension compliance offered in Comfort – and even Sport – modes blows both the M product and two-door Toyota into the water when it comes to daily usability. There’s none of that jackhammer firmness over speed humps, so the M240i really is a fantastic everyday sports car.
Safety is a sore point for the 2 Series Coupe though, and while it’s still awaiting assessment by ANCAP, it was marked down to four stars in Euro NCAP testing due to poor lane-keep assist and AEB tuning. Crash worthiness was still strong with good occupant protection noted.
In practice, the lane-keep system was intrusive to a point that I had to turn it off, but BMW’s tuning of the M240i’s adaptive cruise control system is still one of the best in the business following cars at a reasonable distance and not overreacting on the highway.
BMW has successfully differentiated the new 2 Series driving experience and exterior from its closely-related 3 and 4 Series siblings – but inside, you would have a hard time telling the more compact 2 Series apart.
The interior design is deeply sober with a choice of aluminium or piano black trim. The broad dash is nearly identical to that found in a 3 or 4 Series, built around a familiar 10.25-inch central touchscreen, head-up display, wireless charging pad, customisable ambient lighting, as well as wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto hooked up to a clear and well-balanced 14-speaker Harman Kardon sound system.
Covered in leather in our tester M240i, one way to make the cabin feel a little more youthful is to opt for a base 220i with its standard cloth seats – as this includes coloured cloth door trims.
Our usual complaints about BMW’s 12.3-inch digital driver’s display lacking contrast and customisability compared to Audi’s MMI display apply to the M240i too. The BMW lets you see a map in the instrument cluster but it is basic, unlabelled and unzoomable, unlike the Audi S3’s Google Earth cartography.
BMW has retained the overly chubby M Sport steering wheel from the 4 Series – though at least it has clear, real buttons that are difficult to press by accident. That’s quite different to an AMG CLA 35, which has frustrating haptic buttons on its wheel.
The sports seats found in this M240i are electrically-adjustable with inflatable side bolsters, lumbar adjustment and heating – but these upgraded pews are a $2000 option. Surely they should be standard on this near-$90,000 BMW! ‘Vernasca’ leather upholstery is standard for the M240i and while traditional black leather was fitted to our example, the no-cost option cognac hide would give the interior deeper visual richness.
The seats sit low and the driving position is close to perfect, though oddly for a BMW at 188cm tall I only had another 15mm of spare room above my head. Chalk this up to a combination of the standard-fit sunroof and the new car’s 4mm lower roofline.
There are a pair of back seats that, if front and rear passengers are shorter than 175cm, should be usable. They’re even comfortable to sit in with plenty of bolstering, a fold-down armrest, separate climate zone from the two-zone front vents and provisions to mount child seats with two Isofix ports and top tether anchor points.
The boot is also quite usable offering 390 litres of storage space, a 12-volt socket and four tie-down points. As the M240i’s tyres are run-flat, BMW does not include a space saver spare, only a tyre repair kit.
Any six-cylinder engine is going to be pretty thirsty in the real world – with the payoff being smoothness and a strong exhaust note. However, the M240i’s 230kg added heft over the previous generation means the ADR 81/02 fuel consumption figure has actually gone up, from 7.2L/100km to 8.0L/100km.
During our spirited 250km country road test outside Melbourne, the M240i returned a real-world figure of 11.5L/100km which is quite thirsty but not atrocious considering the pace on offer. Premium 95-octane petrol is required.
Servicing is very affordable if you choose to pre-pay for one of BMW’s plans. A five year/80,000km ‘basic’ plan costs $1650, so considering the complication of the M240i xDrive and the cost to service rivals such as the Mercedes-AMG A45 S ($5150) and Audi RS3 ($3580) the baby BMW coupe looks like great value to maintain.
A more involved service plus package that covers brake pads, rotors and wiper replacement costs $4340. BMW does not stipulate service intervals, so instead the M240i’s infotainment system will prompt you when it’s time for maintenance.
BMW’s short three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty has slipped behind rival German brands Audi and Mercedes-Benz – let alone Lexus, Genesis and Jaguar Land Rover – who all offer more generous five-year warranties.
The new 2 Series is a different beast to the coupe it replaces: no longer a truly small, RWD two-door, the 2022 M240i is a more sophisticated and mature vehicle – albeit a larger, heavier one.
That being said, the extra confidence and pace afforded by the sweet pairing of the straight-six petrol engine and the rear-biased xDrive AWD system makes the M240i an enticing proposition all of its own.
While this is a respectable GT car, hard-edged performance fans shouldn’t fret: the new M240i is not intended to replace the outgoing M2 despite their similar tracks (and price). BMW has left plenty of room for additional firmness in this chassis and we should see a manual M2 make one more return…
Instead, the new 2 Series in M240i formstrikes a fantastic balance between pace, grace and space for daily usability.
Variant tested M240i xDRIVE
Key specs (as tested)
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