What Car? says...
There are few greater joys in motoring than a brilliant engine, and BMW has produced a fair few of them over the years. Its twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six is one shining example, and it’s what you’ll find when lifting the bonnet of the BMW M240i.
In many ways, it’s what this car’s entire driving experience centres around. You see, there was a time when sports cars with tuneful six-cylinder engines were plentiful but, with the downsizing trend continuing, the M240i is a dying breed. So, it’s distinctly old school – and in the best possible way.
With 368bhp and four-wheel drive, the BMW M240i can officially do 0-60mph in 4.3 seconds, but (spoiler alert) in our tests it was even quicker than that.
Of course, it’s not all about power delivery and noise because, as with all the best performance cars, handling is very important too. The M240i is at the top of the BMW 2 Series Coupé line-up and gets a unique suspension set-up to go with its riotous engine.
Both those models are based on the BMW 1 Series hatchback, whereas the 2 Series Coupé is closely related to the larger BMW 4 Series. The M240i is from good stock, then – the 4 Series is our reigning Coupé of the Year.
So, what are its rivals? Well, arguably, this is one of the few cars on sale that don't have any. There are plenty of other fast two-door coupés of course, just none this small (unless you count the Audi TT, but that’s more of a sports car with token rear seats).
Over the next few pages of this review, we’ll run you through what the BMW M240i is like to drive, how practical it is and whether or not it stacks up financially.
Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
The BMW M240i borrows its 368bhp 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine from the M440i. Officially, it can do 0-62mph in 4.3 seconds – but in our tests it managed 0-60mph in a staggering 3.9 seconds. That’s only fractionally slower than the far more expensive Audi RS3.
The M240i sounds great, too: the bassy woofle at low revs becomes a soulful howl as you let the revs build towards 7000rpm. Just before you get there, you’ll need the next gear. It will be selected for you automatically if you leave the gearbox in its default setting, but in Manual mode, you can take control using paddles behind the steering wheel.
There’s plenty of fun to be had through the corners. The M240i is certainly no poor relation to the BMW 4 Series dynamically – it’s more compact than its bigger brother and feels it. The nose is eager to dart into corners and grip levels front and rear are also well balanced.
Perhaps surprisingly, we found the steering slightly sweeter in the entry-level BMW 2 Series Coupé – the 220i – than in this range-topping version.
In the M240i you can lose the sense of connection to the front wheels when you hold a prescribed amount lock to get around a corner, something we found less of a problem in the 220i. It’s a small gripe, though, and is likely to be due to differing weight (the M240i is heavier) or different tyres, because BMW assures us the fundamental steering set-ups are the same.
The M240i's brakes aren't perfect, either. There’s a small ‘dead zone' at the top of the pedal travel, before the pads grab the discs quite sharply as you push your foot closer to the floor. Stopping power is very impressive, though.
We’ve tested the M240i with optional adaptive suspension fitted, and in its Comfort setting, you’re isolated very well from bumps in the road, especially by performance car standards. In this form, it's more comfortable than the entry-level 220i, which isn’t available with adaptive suspension.
Unlike in some quick cars, you won’t need ear defenders for a long motorway journey. Indeed, if you switch the sports exhaust to the quietest setting, the M240i is barely any less agreeable than a regular 2 Series Coupé.
The interior layout, fit and finish
There are so many similarities between the M240i and the BMW 4 Series inside that, from behind the wheel, you’d genuinely struggle to tell which of the two cars you were in. That’s a huge compliment to the 2 Series, because it’s the cheaper car by a sizeable margin.
There are small differences, including a different design for the insides of the doors featuring larger door pulls. Genuine leather seats are standard on the M240i and you can choose between black or tan.
The driving position is excellent and you get electric seats (with adjustable lumbar support) to set everything up just how you want it. There’s a reasonable, if not exceptional, amount of side support from the front seats during hard cornering. There’s no option to upgrade to the sort of race-style bucket seats you can get in some more expensive performance cars (including the BMW M3).
Overall, the 2 Series has a classier interior than many alternatives you might be considering, including the Mercedes CLA. Only the Audi TT outshines it, and that’s a much less practical choice for carrying passengers.
The BMW iDrive infotainment system is brilliant. The M240i gets a 10.3in display that you can use as a touchscreen or operate by twisting and pressing a rotary controller between the front seats. The dial is much less distracting when you’re driving and the operating system is super-intuitive.
There’s built-in sat nav, plus Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone mirroring (so you can run phone apps through the touchscreen). It’s worth considering the Harman Kardon sound system upgrade if you love listening to music, and wireless phone-charging is on the options list too.
Passenger & boot space
How it copes with people and clutter
While the M240i has plenty in common with the larger BMW 4 Series, its dimensions are significantly more compact. You won’t really notice the difference when sitting in the front, though, because there’s still plenty of head room and the seats slide back a long way on their runners.
Six-footers won’t fancy a long trip in the rear seats, but adults will feel a lot less squished than they would in the back of the Audi TT (the Porsche Cayman is a two-seater only). If you plan to carry more than one passenger on a regular basis, you’d be better off looking at the BMW 2 Series Gran Coupé or Mercedes CLA. As a bonus, both those cars have rear doors.
Alternatively, if you can find the extra cash, the brilliant M440i – the range-topping version of our 2022 Coupé of the Year – is far more accommodating for people sitting in the back.
The M240i’s boot is a respectable size, and will take a set of golf clubs or a few small suitcases. The saloon opening means the aperture is quite small, so you can forget about squeezing in a bike (surprisingly, we did manage to fit one into the boot of the TT, thanks to its large hatchback opening).
Buying & owning
Everyday costs, plus how reliable and safe it is
Th BMW M240i is a sporty offering from a premium German brand, so you're probably not expecting a bargain price tag. That said, it's quite a bit cheaper than the larger BMW M440i and is also attractively priced compared with, say, the Audi RS3.
The M240i is fairly thirsty and averaged 32mpg in our real-world tests. There is a diesel (220d) version of the 2 Series Coupé if you’re looking for maximum miles to the gallon, but BMW expects the vast majority of buyers to opt for a petrol. Diesel just isn’t very fashionable these days.
The M240i is considered a model in its own right, so there’s no trim level as such. You do get a few more luxuries than on lesser engines, though, including leather seats. We’d recommend adding the M Technology Pack and adaptive M suspension at the very least, though.
The 2 Series Coupe is too new to have featured in our most recent What Car? Reliability Survey but BMW as a brand came a middling 13th (out of 30 manufacturers) in the overall league table.
Disappointingly, the 2 Series Coupé failed to achieve the top Euro NCAP five-star safety rating, scoring four stars overall. Based on sensors in a crash-test dummy, concerns included weak protection of a 10-year-old sitting in the back during a side impact, along with poor pelvis protection for pedestrians.