We say: new engine, more power and better noise. Could be BMW’s best car
The M235i, which was a pretty damn good small sports coupe, has got a new engine and a new, even more meaningless badge, which along with updated, sharper iDrive, is the only visual giveaway. But let’s not get convoluted. The genius of the M240i is that it’s pretty much all you’d ever need to amuse you on the road, and to bimble about in every day.
Praise be, someone at BMW still sees the joy in stringing out a line of six cylinders under a bonnet. The 240i still uses a 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo engine, but it’s new: a child of the modular engines that BMW is rolling out.
Effectively, the engineers simply glue together 500cc cylinders and strap on turbos until they reach the right motor for the job. That’s why little BMWs and Minis have 1.5-litre 3cyls, bigger ones have 2.0-litre 4cyls, and here, we’re in 3.0-litre 6cyl territory. You drop a tax band, gain 14bhp and 371b ft. This thing has as much torque as an M2, sounds as good and weighs a full-grown man (100kg) less.
It doesn’t have the body control, so drive flat-out and the M car would just pull away, as the young pretender heaved and sagged a tad in its wake. But if you’re behaving more reasonably, this small, agile little coupe is superb at coping with rotten British roads, exciting and approachable. Third gear is wonderful in the M240i. It allows you to trundle through a village at acceptable revs, but upon reaching the national speed sign on the other side, a squeeze on the gas has the engine momentarily pause for breath, then surge with building gusto all the way to a 7,000rpm red line you’ll not reach, because to do so would require an address change to Cell Block 4, Wormwood Scrubs.
You’ll find its limits a lot sooner than the big M lad – it’s ultimately less of a challenge. But if you like the feeling of using 95 per cent of a car’s ability on every journey, there’s a lot to suggest the M240i is possibly the best all-round sporting car BMW makes right now.