In the two-door world, the BMW 2 Series is as alluring as they come. And within its lineup, like other M Sport offerings, the 2019 BMW M240i is a masterful balance between style and substance that’s ideal for people who can be real with themselves about how much car they truly need. While the M2 Competition exists for track-day enthusiasts, the M240i is an approachable alternative, going from mall parking lot to spirited Sunday drive with consummate ease. It’s exactly as fun and engaging as it looks like it ought to be.
To my eye, the 2 Series is one of the most beautiful interpretations of BMW styling you’ll find anywhere. As the kidney grille gets larger and larger on SUVs, the diminutive treatment it receives here is properly understated and provides an excellent contrast to the deeply stamped shoulder line. The M Sport brake calipers and optional exhaust tie it all together into a package that’s curvaceous and distinct yet tasteful. In a word: gorgeous.
The interior is similarly well done, conveying a quality in build and materials befitting the price tag. Subtle touches like the blue contrast stitching and M colouring accents in this tester’s optional interior – which costs extra, but not any more than the rest of the real leather upholstery combinations – deliver a pleasing attention to detail. The only obvious gap I can find is in the pedals, which are decidedly bland relative to their surroundings.
The BMW Driving Assistant is standard equipment, which includes active cruise control with stop-and-go, lane centring, lane-keep assist and lane-departure warning, and blind spot monitoring. Automatic collision is equipped as standard as well, and adaptive LED headlights are available at an extra cost.
With so many people gravitating toward SUVs these days, it can’t be ignored that a low-slung two-door performance vehicle with a 390 L trunk probably can’t be considered especially practical. That said, there are some things that help it along: the rear seats are split 40/20/40 as standard, and the outboard positions have quick-release latches in the trunk for easy dispatch. And the back seat is designed for car seats and feels spacious enough to handle them, which can’t be said for all small coupes on the market.
User Friendliness: 8/10
I’m a fan of BMW’s on-board infotainment system and the dial interface that operates it. There are some thoughtful elements such as being able to display satellite radio stations by station name or current artist or song title. In combination with the ability to sit back and not need to interact with a touchscreen, this helps keep the experience less distracting.
The gear lever and drive mode buttons are simple and effective as well, and the standard digital gauge cluster helps make driving information easy to read at a glance. The same can’t be said for the HVAC and entertainment buttons on the centre stack, which doesn’t take terribly long to learn but comes off as visually busy, especially with the unnecessary CD player and preset buttons.
Key features that make the M240i stand out like the adaptive suspension and M Sport brakes are included as standard, as are heated and power front seats with driver’s seat memory, a heated steering wheel, the digital gauge cluster, and more. For add-ons, it’s nice to see some simplification in the ordering process on this car. There are two basic packages to choose from: Premium Package Essential for $2,900, which adds auto-dimming exterior mirrors, a sunroof, front and rear parking sensors, a universal remote control, and keyless entry, and Premium Package Enhanced for $4,900, which includes these features plus on-board navigation, Apple CarPlay (sorry, Android users, but there’s no Android Auto available), SiriusXM, and BMW ConnectedDrive with real-time traffic info and concierge services. From there, a handful of one-off options can be added such as a premium sound system, performance exhaust, and adaptive LED headlights.
We’re all guilty of being bewitched by high horsepower figures once in a while, myself included. But the truth is that this 3.0-litre turbocharged inline-six engine’s 340 hp and 369 lb-ft available from 1,520 rpm is just the right mix of breathtaking and approachable. If you enjoy a winding road on a summer day as much as the next person but know you’ll never get around to doing anything performance or track-related, this is the car you’re looking for.
There is a six-speed manual transmission available, but it can’t be paired with all-wheel drive. I feel obligated to complain about this because having more manuals around is always better, but the truth is that matching it with rear-wheel drive only is almost certainly the right move. The enthusiasts will appreciate it, and the enormous percentage of people who want all-wheel drive sadly aren’t likely to want to row their own gears and will be very happy with the performance-oriented eight-speed automatic.
The standard adaptive suspension works with the transmission and the throttle to create multiple drive modes. Sport+ is geared quite aggressively, and while it makes a great noise, most drivers will reserve it only for the most curvy and remote stretches of road. Sport, on the other hand, delivers a happy medium that’s properly pleasant in everyday driving. But when you’re cruising along in Comfort mode and need to punch it, the M240i does so without hesitation.
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As small coupes go, the M240i is not bad at all. The standard sport seats are generously supportive, and my daughter reports that even the back row is relatively roomy for a car of this style and size. Two tall passengers in the front attempting to make room for two adults in the back might create some tension, but that’s the worst-case scenario. My torso is on the taller side, and I don’t have any headroom issues.
Driving Feel: 9/10
Another benefit of the adaptive suspension is how it can adapt its ride and handling characteristics to varying situations. From potholed highway to smooth and twisty back road, the M240i is smooth over rough surfaces and handles like a dream. The variable steering adjusts in feel and responsiveness to the conditions as well. Overall, driving it is engaging, rewarding, and yet effortless in all the right ways.
Fuel Economy: 8.5/10
For what you can get out of this car, Natural Resources Canada’s ratings of 11.3 L/100 km in the city, 8.0 on the highway, and 9.8 combined are very reasonable. After a week of testing, I netted a much more embarrassing 12.3. (On the other hand, I did have an awful lot of fun with it.) You will, of course, need to budget for premium fuel.
Value is in the perception of the wallet-holder. You can get an awful lot of large SUV for $65,000, but you also might never enjoy driving again. Within the subset of people who would consider buying this car, it’s the combination of drivability, adaptability, and subtle yet incomparable appearance that make the M240i worth the asking price.
If what you really covet is an M2 Competition, but you don’t have the budget for it and you know you really don’t need it, don’t hesitate to take one of these for a spin. It’s beautifully executed and might just scratch that itch while demanding less of an asking price than you’d think.
|2019 BMW M240i xDrive|
|Engine Displacement: 3.0L|
|Engine Cylinders: I6|
|Peak Horsepower: 340 hp @ 5,500 rpm|
|Peak Torque: 369 lb-ft @ 1,520–4,500 rpm|
|Fuel Economy: 11.3/8.0/9.8 L/100 km city/hwy/cmb|
|Cargo Space: 390 L|
|2019 BMW M240i xDrive|
|Base Price $51,000|
|A/C Tax $100|
|Destination Fee $2,480|
|Price as Tested $64,725|
|Optional Equipment $11,145 – Estoril Blue metallic paint $895; black Dakota leather interior with contrast stitching $1,500; Premium Package Enhanced $4,500; Park Distance Control, front and rear $450; M Performance exhaust $1,500; lumbar support $300; adaptive LED headlights $1,000; Harman/Kardon sound system $1,000|