If nothing else, the new 2 Series Coupe proves that BMW can still build a good-looking car. Well, at the very least, it can build a car that’s not totally polarising and argument-generating with its styling.
The new M240i xDrive has been styled by Mexican-born designer José Casas Pena, and it just so happens that the car is built in Mexico too.
Pena says that it consciously riffs on the classic BMW 2002, which is why it ignores the current tall-and-narrow BMW grille trend in favour of a more classical shark-nose, and also why it has single headlight lenses, rather than BMW’s usual twin-lamp layout.
It’s longer (105mm), lower (28mm), and wider (54mm) than the old 2 Series, and it no longer looks like a 1 Series hatch with a boot. That’s because the 1 Series and 2 Series Coupe are no longer mechanically related.
This 2 Series Coupe is built on the same rear-wheel-drive chassis as the 3 Series and 4 Series. Think of it, then, as a 4 Series Coupe that has been to Weight Watchers and had some rhinoplasty at the same time.
It’s not cheap.
The 2022 BMW M240i xDrive — which will be the pinnacle of the 2 Series Coupe line-up until the new M2 arrives — costs $89,900 before on-road costs and, while you do get more power than the old M240i, standard four-wheel drive and more equipment, that’s still a lot of cash.
It is, in fact, $30,000 more than the base 220i Coupe, and that’s hardly a cheap car itself.
Still, on the upside the M240i is more affordable in most markets than the rival Audi RS3 Sedan, and it’s a proper coupe, not merely a fast four-door.
Standard on all new 2 Series Coupe models is the eight-speed Steptronic automatic gearbox, which is a bit of a shame, as there’s no manual option. The M240i only comes with xDrive all-wheel drive, too.
You get digital instruments (on a 12.3-inch screen behind the wheel) and a 10.25-inch infotainment touchscreen atop the centre of the dash.
Other standard kit includes an acoustic windscreen, electric seat adjustment and three-zone climate control. This M240i rides on lightweight forged 19-inch rims, with high-performance Michelin tyres. Other standard equipment on the M240i includes adaptive suspension and the trick M Differential between the rear wheels for improved handling.
For the first time in a 2 Series Coupe, you can have an optional head-up display projected onto the windscreen, while the infotainment system now has more connectivity options including real-time traffic info and hazard warnings, and the option of being able to use your smartphone as a digital key.
Wireless Apple CarPlay is standard, too, while the Amazon Alexa digital voice assistant is built into the car’s operating system, alongside BMW’s home-grown ‘Hey, BMW’ digital voice system. The system also now gets over-the-air software updates too.
The 2022 BMW 2 Series hasn’t been crash tested by Euro NCAP or ANCAP, but its CLAR platform mates have all scored five stars.
Standard safety kit in Australia will include:
- AEB with pedestrian detection
- Forward collision warning
- Cruise control with downhill braking function
- Lane departure warning
- Blind-spot monitoring
- Rear cross-traffic alert
- Traffic sign recognition
- Proactive rear collision protection
If you’ve sat in a current 3 Series or 4 Series, you know what the new M240i is like on the inside.
The dashboard, the screens, the switches and the centre console all are more or less identical. The only real physical difference is how much closer the rear screen is to the back of your head, and how much cosier the cockpit is.
Actually, it’s not too cramped inside. In spite of the lower roofline compared to the old 2 Series Coupe, space up front is fine – although the driver’s seat is set a touch higher than we’d ideally like.
There’s an extra 51mm of length in the wheelbase, so rear seat space is, while not exactly roomy, certainly not cramped either. It is a little tricky to post yourself through the gap between the folded front seats and the door frame though, and tricky again to heave yourself back out, especially if you’re on the tall side.
The good news is that overall quality is excellent, as all of the cockpit surfaces and materials look terrific, and all of the switches and column stalks move with a precise, high-quality feel.
The driver’s seat is comfortable, and you can adjust the tightness of the side bolsters to suit. A shame that the driving position is slightly offset, but it’s less of an issue than it might be if there were a manual gearbox.
The big screen in the middle gets BMW’s iDrive 7.0 software, which is easy to find your way around. You can use the click-wheel controller on the centre console, or the touchscreen, or voice control, or even gesture control.
The optional head-up display is a must-have — it’s bright and clear to read, and includes excellent navigation overlays, as well as speed limit info.
The boot is a little bigger than that of the old 2 Series Coupe, with 390 litres on offer, but it’s still quite shallow and the boot opening isn’t very big, so larger items will be tricky to load, to say the least.
To help, BMW has trimmed the height of the load lip by 35mm, while the back seats split-fold as standard (that used to be an option).
While we are hurtling towards the end of the internal-combustion engine, BMW is making sure that this old technology goes out with a bang, rather than a whimper. Turbocharged it might be, but this 3.0-litre unit is a true, classic BMW straight-six in every respect.
As an M Performance model, rather than a full-house M car, the M240i is supposed to be the less powerful, more affordable alternative to the M2.
M240i xDrive models in Australia will put out 285kW and 500Nm, 10kW up on the European specification.
This is a remarkably tuneful engine, with a deep, steady bass-line overlaid with a traditional inline-six wail when you start to probe the upper reaches of the rev limits. It sounds as good as it goes, in other words, and at 4.3 seconds for 0-100km/h, it really goes.
A lesser M model it might be, but the boys at M have nonetheless been working their engineering magic on this unit. It gets motorsport-derived parts such as lightweight pistons, a forged steel crankshaft, fully variable valve timing and an aluminium crankcase.
The downside is that fuel economy is not great, but we’ll come back to that in a minute.
Would you be surprised if we told you the M240i is fantastic to drive? Thought not.
In fairness, taking a compact, stiff, relatively light (1700kg) coupe and stuffing a powerful, smooth engine and four-wheel drive into it was not going to result in a duffer. BMW’s M technicians have been hard at work making sure that was not the case.
What’s really pleasing is, in spite of the mechanical commonality with the 3 Series and 4 Series, the 2 Series Coupe feels distinctly different to drive. You really can feel the tighter dimensions and the increase in relative stiffness.
While a 4 Series Coupe feels pretty languid and fluid, the 2 Series Coupe — especially in this M240i form — feels punchy and aggressive, darting into the apex of corners where the 4 Series would take its time.
Fun? Oh yes, massively so. The electric power steering is arguably the best of its breed, with exceptionally good weighting, and even quite good feel and feedback at the rim. You’re never left in any doubt of what the front wheels are doing, nor how much grip and traction they are giving you to play with.
Evaluating the car in Europe in October, the standard-fit four-wheel-drive xDrive system brought a little extra reassurance that we weren’t going to start making holes in the Bavarian scenery.
If four-wheel drive means the M240i is a little less adjustable than it might be, then at least most of the power is sent to the rear wheels and the M Differential between said rear wheels means that you can tweak the car’s cornering attitude with the throttle.
It will wag the tail, a little, but you need to be really, really trying — and really, if you’re trying that hard you need to be on a racetrack.
The uprated M Sport brakes are so good that you soon don’t bother thinking about them much, just revelling in the knowledge they’re more than strong enough to step in and help out when needed.
The downside to all this taut handling is that the ride is pretty firm, and that’s on the basis of a test drive on German tarmac, which is kept and maintained to the standard of a putting green.
On more heavily broken roads, the M240i — especially in Sport mode with the adaptive suspension — is likely to be pretty aggressive in how it deals with bumps, but at least you can tweak the car’s settings to suit, with the steering, engine, gearbox and throttle maps set to Sport mode but the dampers left in Comfort.
It’s not going to be cheap. Quite apart from the chunky price tag, there’s that fuel economy that we mentioned.
Other Euro-market models that use this turbocharged straight-six, such as the M440i, get a 48-Volt mild-hybrid system that helps them to eke out fuel savings, but the more focused M240i dispenses with this.
BMW claims 8.0L/100km on the combined cycle, but on our test (which included some high-speed runs on the Autobahn) we couldn’t do better than 10.6L/100km. If you back off and drive like a saint, you’ll do better, but if you’re driving like that, why are you buying an M240i?
Meanwhile BMW Australia’s Service Inclusive Basic package is currently advertised at $1650 for all 2 Series models, which covers basic scheduled maintenance for five years or 80,000 kilometres.
Given the way these things usually play out, the new M2 will be even faster, sharper and better all-round to drive than this M240i. That is, of course, built into the whole M car hierarchy.
The M2 isn’t here yet, though, so in the meantime this M240i ranks as properly brilliant. Good looking, compact and blessed with a combo of sonorous engine and an entertaining, well-sorted chassis.
It’s a proper BMW coupe, and praise really comes no higher than that.
Click the images for the full gallery
MORE: Everything BMW 2 Series