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HomeDRIVENNew BMW M240i

New BMW M240i

More Power for Mzansi |

When a new BMW performance-oriented model is released locally, it is usually specified with a small power deficit compared to its European counterpart due to differences in fuel quality, requiring the manufacturer to detune its engines marginally. So, it has come as a welcome surprise that the new M240i xDrive will have more power than its European counterpart when introduced here in the first quarter of 2022.

As a result of stricter emissions controls in Europe, the maximum power output of the TwinPower Turbo six-cylinder in-line petrol engine in the M240i xDrive is limited to 275 kW in Europe. South African bound models will be made available with 285 kW, which is only 17 kW less than the maximum power output of the current M2 Competition. This is enough to propel the new all-wheel-drive M240i xDrive from standstill to 100 km/h in 4.3 seconds – only 0.1 seconds off the time claimed for its highly rated M2 Competition stablemate.

In the Eye of the Beholder

Despite its visible dynamic potential and absence of an upright double-coffin grille, like its larger 4 Series Coupé sibling, the design of the new 2 Series, and the M240i derivative, in particular, is somewhat polarising. Some scribes have deemed the bonnet line too long, the proportions unbalanced, the lines and contours confusing, and the taillight design incohesive. But, as they say, beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder.

Those lines were conceived by José Casas Pena, a Mexican by birth and currently a senior exterior designer for the BMW Group in Munich. He combined classic coupé design elements from the BMW 02 and the 1 Series Coupé with contemporary features. Coincidentally, the new 2 Series will be built exclusively in Mexico.

The M240i is longer, wider, and lower than its predecessor, with a longer wheelbase and wider front and rear tracks. This affords the newcomer a powerful stance, emphasised by prominently flared wheel arches, a power dome on the bonnet, and the horizontal kidney grille, which incorporates vertical air flaps that open electrically when the engine requires more cooling. 

As a nod to the legendary 02 models, the single unit full-LED headlights embody a circular design, and, in true BMW fashion, the car has a long bonnet, short overhangs, and a set-back cabin with a pronounced spoiler lip on the short boot lid.

The M240i xDrive Coupé will be joined by the 220i with improved petrol engine (135 kW/300 Nm), and 220d Coupé featuring a 140 kW/400 Nm diesel unit with two-stage turbocharging and 48V mild-hybrid technology. A 230i Coupé (180 kW/350 Nm) may be included in the range towards the latter part of 2022, and the full-blooded M2 is expected to go into production in late 2022.

Out on the Autobahn

With their Thundernight metallic paint coats shimmering in the hazy sunlight, the fleet of M240i xDrive Coupés looked fresh and feisty parked at the BMW Driving Experience Centre on the outskirts of Munich. Plus, the compact car’s much-maligned lines look significantly better in real life than they do in images.

The position of the Alcantara/Sensatec leather-upholstered sports seat behind the steering wheel is satisfyingly low, adding to the sense of feeling cosseted in the cockpit. The high-quality trim and door panels heighten the premium interior ambience with trapezoidal accent surfaces backlit by optional ambient lighting.

Standard and optional driver assistance systems have been significantly expanded, and the BMW Head-Up Display and Drive Recorder is now available for the first time in the 2 Series Coupé. The centrally mounted digital 12.3” instrument cluster and 10.25” control display proved intuitive and user friendly. 

Cloud-based map navigation, BMW TeleServices and Remote Software Upgrades are now also available, and on the rural Bavarian roads, the Harman Kardon surround sound system in the M240i xDrive really enhanced the driving experience.

Those fortunate enough to experience the current M2 Competition will understand the level of dynamic prowess the smallest BMW coupé can deliver and, after negotiating a few curving forest roads, it became clear that the agility and cornering dynamics of the newcomer are exceedingly greater.

With chassis technology from the BMW 4 Series, model-specific M Sport suspension, additional front axle struts, M Sport brakes, an M Sport diff at the rear and 19” M light-alloy wheels with different sized tyres (225/40 R19 upfront and 255/35 R19 at the rear), the M240i xDrive proved lithe and agile in the sweeps.

Static torsional rigidity has been improved by 12% compared to its predecessor, negating body roll and its ride – while on the firm side – was pliant enough for long-distance journeys. This was complemented by the lusty, rev-thirsty and smooth 3.0-litre twin-turbo engine, developing 25 kW more than its predecessor, with a peak torque of 500 Nm.

The fast-shifting eight-speed Steptronic Sport transmission (part of the M Sport package Pro) delivered seamless shifting, and the Sprint function proved useful in quick overtaking manoeuvres. It also features Launch Control, and on the unrestricted section of the autobahn leading back to Munich, the compact two-door coupé comfortably reached 250 km/h.

The well-integrated powertrain and chassis significantly optimise the handling behaviour and enable racecar-like cornering and even oversteer drifts (although, without any rear-drive setting, a significant amount of effort is required to break the prodigious all-wheel-drive grip).

Last Word

In short, the agility, precision, and cornering dynamics of the new M240i xDrive Coupé exceed those of its predecessor, while its optimised ride comfort and acoustics simultaneously enhance its abilities, both as a daily driver and long-distance tourer. 

Given our first-drive experience on the smooth German roads, the new M240i xDrive Coupé ticks all the right boxes, and it will be interesting to see how it performs on home soil. We look forward to the local introduction of the new 2 Series models in the first quarter of next year.

Report by Ferdi de Vos | Images © BMW AG

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