BMW M240i Coupe xDrive 3.0 Review: It's Grown Up To Be Like A Mini 4 Series Coupe
When the 1 Series-based E82 Coupe was unveiled, it harked back to a back-to-basics purity that really appealed to enthusiasts, while the 3 Series Coupe kept growing bigger beyond its original brief. The F22 Coupe brought with it the 2 Series moniker and the top non-M car gained a ‘M’ badge in the form of the M235i/M240i Coupe. Still, both of these generations are based on their rear-wheel drive 1 Series platforms.
The new G42 is quite different underneath. The 1 Series of its generation has moved to front-wheel drive, but kudos to BMW for keeping the 2 Series Coupe rear-wheel drive by adopting the chassis of the 4 Series. So obviously, it has grown quite a bit now especially in M240i guise, with a longer wheelbase (+51 mm) and wider front (+54 mm) and rear tracks (+31 mm). It even uses suspension parts from the 4 Series. Thankfully, it didn’t gain the ‘bucktooth’ front grille of the 4, but it has its own visual quirks, like headlights inspired by the legendary BMW 02 models and ‘3D’ tail lights. These details don’t really look familiar and we are still undecided about the car’s visual appeal.
So it is no surprise that on the road, the M240i Coupe feels more mature than its predecessor, in fact reminding me of its bigger cousin itself. It is more refined, has a posher interior (yet still with OS7, thank heavens) and has genuine space for 4 adults. Besides some more youthful details like the BMW M colours ‘painted’ (and backlit) on the doors, quality and ambience are right up there with the 4. Cabin insulation is fantastic although it still lets in the one thing that matters - the glorious noise of that B58 engine (more on that later). There really is a palpable increase in the amount of interior room, although rear passengers may still brush their hair on the headliner.
Like the 4, the M240i Coupe has great torsional rigidity (+12% over predecessor), superb 50:50 balance and a well-judged ride. There is that same ‘one piece’ feeling that we love from the 4, the car taking disturbances from the road in its stride rather than being thrown off course. Handling is sharp and incisive, no doubt a result of the rear-biased xDrive system and the standard-fit M Sport Differential. Seating position is spot on and controls like brakes (confident and progressive) and variable sport steering (meaty and communicative through the trademark padded steering wheel) are confidence-inspiring. The adaptive M suspension can range from firm but never uncomfortable, to more stiffness but never being unsettled - your pick with Individual Mode. There is a careful blend of being fun, yet being utterly suitable for the everyday - which is seriously giving M cars a run for their money.
Back to the engine. Good for 374 hp and 500 Nm, there’s plenty to love. There’s just so much fun to be had wringing the B58 to its redline because its exhaust note is as unadulterated as it gets in the modern day; the car is pleasingly sonorous and gives pops and bangs to spark joy where it can (as verified from the outside - so it isn’t all fake). But it’s also civilised for normal, everyday situations, giving plenty of torque low down so you always have access to power. I can’t ask for a better straight six BMW engine, especially as one of the last we would see. The 8-speed auto is also a perfect pair to the B58. It’s fast, slick, responsive, relaxed when it needs to be but aggressive when you want to get on.
So, I think we can conclude that it really is a 4 Series Coupe, downsized. That is crucial because, as a sports coupe, the M240i Coupe makes even more sense as a smaller car versus the 4. There’s a better power-to-weight ratio, easier placement on the road and ‘less is more’ agility. I genuinely enjoyed its effervescent character, always overflowing with an abundance of power and raring to dance on a twisty road. It definitely feels that bit sportier than its bigger cousin.
It’s hard to find something to fault with the M240i Coupe but chiefly, for me, it’s xDrive, despite being very good for what it is. With xDrive, as we found in the M440i Gran Coupe, things are really tied down. Yes, there is some sense of adjustability and interaction with the odd oversteer moments allowed, so it isn’t an inert system. But grip seems to be the priority here, evidently from the constant shuffling beneath you to get power to where it is needed. It’s impressive and I can imagine the car being far quicker especially on wet surfaces, but for a compact coupe I do find xDrive a little superfluous and laying a numbing ointment to the whole experience. If the rumours about a rear-wheel drive M240i are to be believed, it would be welcome news indeed.
If you can accept the subjective looks and don’t mind xDrive, the M240i Coupe is a deliciously familiar recipe of a great BMW sports coupe. Don’t miss it.
Credits: Text by James Wong; Photos by Horizon Drivers' Club