Editors note: It’s the holidays and we’re doing something a little different this week. We’re going to be reviewing a few of the most interesting cars we’ve driven this year within the BMW family that aren’t MINIs. We started at the top with the Rolls Royce Ghost Black Badge. now lets take a look what some might consider a JCW alternative.
If this is the end of BMW’s small, rear wheel drive petrol powered coupes, this is a glorious end. That’s our lasting impression after our initial time on the road and track with the all new BMW M240i. But before we get to that, let’s take a step back and talk about discuss what this all new 2 Series coupe means for BMW and for you.
The new rear wheel drive 2 Series wasn’t suppose to be. As we understand it, the original plan was to base all 2 Series models off of the new FAAR front-wheel drive platform underpinning MINIs and all small BMWs. But something got in the way – buyers. The previous rear wheel 2 Series was so well received it created a problem. How could BMW walk away from such a critically acclaimed package? So the decision was made to base this all new 2 Series on a scaled down CLAR platform – the same that underpins everything from the 3 Series to the 7 Series. The great news is that move allowed allows BMW to retain the rear wheel drive foundation. However it required a couple of key trade-offs which subtly alter the personality of the 2 Series.
This decision has led to an increase of 209 lbs, a 3.4″ increase in length and a 2″ increase in wheelbase. That’s only 2″ shorter than the E92 M3 for those playing at home. It’s also increased the front track by 2.1″ and the rear by 1.5″. BMW has combated this with a whopping 47 hp increase.
Driving the 2022 BMW M240i
The net of these increases means the 2022 BMW M240i is a car that feels all-around faster but also slightly less eager and playful. But don’t think that this car has grown into a 3 Series as there’s still plenty of playful character here. The chassis’ has increased 40% which increases isolation and but also allows for greater steering precision. That wider front track houses a revised suspension with has more negative camber giving you a bit more bite upfront.
The updated suspension is also on point in creating that duality. On the South Palm track at the Thermal Club the M240i was stable and utterly predictable at the limit. While it didn’t process the magic of the M differential there was plenty of adjustability in power delivery and a surpring amount of steering precision.
On the road the other side of that duality shined. The M240i’s suspension soaked up the broken desert pavement and its expansion joints mile after mile offering much more isolation than the previous generation. Also onboard was plenty of new tech starting with iDrive 7 which we secretly prefer over the all new massive screened iDrive 8. That includes a 10.2″ digital cluster, active cruise, drive recorder, remote engine start and even M colors interior lights. Not offered yet is Active Driving Assistant Pro which we expect along with iDrive 8 later in the car’s life-cycle.
The Beaver is Dead
We don’t talk much about the new beaver tooth BMW grille seen on many models these days because frankly its the least of our styling concerns. But it is reassuring to see a smaller, more conservative approach to the grille design. Further than classic three box shape is here as well eschewing the fastback look of the 4 Series. Then there are the subtle boxed fender flares which are a not so subtle ode to the E30 M3. While there are still parts of the overall design that feel over stylized (that front bumper and those rear lights are working a little too hard hard in our eyes) the 2022 BMW M240i is a bit of a relief.
At a MSRP $57,295 as tested a lot should be expected. As many will point out, that’s M2 money from just 5 years ago. But the what this all new M240i delivers is next level in its versatility. BMW has gifted this car with both more comfort and control while giving it just as much (if not a touch more) feedback through the wheel. While the xDrive blunts some of that (we can’t wait to drive the RWD version), there’s little question this new M240i moves the ball forward in almost every way in terms of performance and livability.
This is no M2 (and certainly no 1M) in engagement and exhilaration, but the 2022 BMW M240i xDrive neatly straddles the line between outright performance car and near luxury. In 2022 terms we can’t think of a small coupe we’d rather daily. Except for maybe the forthcoming rear wheel drive version.