REVIEW | 2022 BMW M240i xDrive is an entertaining road-rocket
The role of the BMW 2 Series coupé is clear. It’s a compact coupé, meaning it takes four occupants and their luggage in a proper boot. In the engine bay, it can either have 2.0l petrol or diesel four-cylinder, or you can have it in more visceral M240i xDrive with a six-cylinder engine, which is tested here.
Sure, the styling of the latest car offends others, but that’s because its maker is on a design renaissance. It certainly has no problems with looking the part of a menacing little BMW with its bantamweight muscles and a short wheelbase.
It certainly works as a daily drive too and for a family of smaller-bodied members, but it’s still a largely minuscule cabin. Legroom is fine in front and the back is cramped, but regular-sized passengers can fit without needing detachable legs to be comfortable. The boot offers good loading space for a weekend away.
The interior strengths are sports-luxury fittings, and the front passengers perch on wide and shapely chairs that also squat low. The driving position is especially good, with a thick M Sport steering wheel with multifunction buttons and voice control. The arrangement makes the car feel premium and ideal whether on an energetic short drive or on longer distances.
The latest 2 Series also gets BMW’s latest infotainment hub that’s more sophisticated, but now fussier than ever. It features the usual Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and other smart device connectedness, but this doesn’t improve things. Instead it frustrates, as the BMW operating system wants to take over your mobile. Some basic entertainment functions like streaming music are best left to a pure Bluetooth connection.
The coupé is available in all-wheel drive exclusively in this market — another change in the recipe that brought the unforgettable 1M coupé and subsequent high-end models of the range. The raw performance of the 3.0l engine is now increased though. It outputs 285kW and 500Nm — 17kW and 50Nm shy off the outgoing M2 CS.
This translates into some stunning performance figures. The 0-100km/h sprint is rated at 4.3 seconds, which is just 0.4 secs slower than a full-fat M4 Competition. The top speed is 250km/h. Along with the eight-speed transmission, dynamic steering, adjustable dampers, sport modes, the all-wheel drive underpinnings deliver a cleaner sprint off the line.
The automatic gearbox is faithful to your requests whether pulling its flappy pedals or using the stubby gear lever, and it never hesitates or gets confused. You’ll have no qualms when it comes to cornering, too, with better than ever levels of grip than its rear-wheel drive ancestors. Yes, it’s all-wheel drive, but there’s an underlying sense that the rear wheels dominate proceedings. This aids agility without the propensity to fry the rears in wheelspin.
The M240i xDrive may no longer invoke fantasies of smoky sideways driving, but BMW hasn’t slacked on the wafting front. You can drive it gracefully and the adjustable dampers have a comfort setting that quietens the delicious bass coming from the sports exhaust.
There’s also an EcoPro setting and consumption hovered on 9.7l/100km, a fair reading compared to the 8.0l/100km claimed by its maker, but you’ll quickly empty the contents of the fuel tank if you succumb to the full violence of the M Performance-tuned engine.
Being a 2+2 coupe doesn’t do the M240i xDrive any favours in the eyes of family buyers compared to its rivals, the Audi S3 and Mercedes-AMG CLA 35. This pair fits five people and is also found in more practical hatchback guise, but the BMW's larger engine certainly makes it the fitter athlete.
It costs roughly the same price as the CLA 35 AMG, but it's R212,000 more expensive than the Audi S3 sedan. Clearly the M240i xDrive is for the deep pocketed.
But we are happy that BMW didn't go the four-cylinder route as it did with its M135i hatch cousin. It’s a refined and stylish looking thing, which has many fans that prefer its compact dimensions above the larger 4 Series, and they love it even in cheaper and quieter four-cylinder 220i and 220d guise. I’ll have mine in this rowdy M240i xDrive flavour, please.
Type: Six-cylinder petrol turbo
Type: Eight-speed Auto
Type: All-wheel drive
Top speed: 250km/h
0-100km/h: 4.3 sec (as claimed)
Fuel Consumption: 8.0l/100km (as claimed), 9.7l/100km (as tested)
Sunroof, park distance control front and rear, electric folding mirrors, cruise control, USB ports, multifunction steering-wheel controls, keyless entry, head-up display, auto on/off LED lights, high-beam assist, rain sensor wipers, driving modes, navigation, Bluetooth connectivity, climate control, tyre-pressure monitor, sports suspension, ABS, stability control and six airbags.
COST OF OWNERSHIP
Warranty: Two years/unlimited km
Maintenance plan: Five years/100,000km
Lease*: R22,694 per month
* at 10% interest over 60 months, no deposit
BMW M240i xDrive
WE LIKE: Styling, refinement, performance
WE DISLIKE: Not very spacious, fussy infotainment, a bit expensive
VERDICT: An entertaining little rocket
Motor News star rating
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Audi S3 sedan, 213kW/400Nm — R851,900
Mercedes-Benz CLA 35 AMG, 225kW/400Nm — R1,067,448
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