M240i Coupe and Convertible – First drives
What are they?
Up until the arrival of the M2 the poster boy of the 2 Series range was the M235i and in either Coupe or Convertible guises it was an absolute blast to drive. Time moves on though and not only do we now have the £44k M2 as the 2 Series icon but the M235i has now morphed into the M240i which offers a performance increase, improved economy and reduced emissions.
The answer for the M240i is, bar the engine, not a huge amount. But that engine update is pretty important as the M240i now makes use of the new Baukasten six-cylinder 3.0-litre unit that, in this guise, is now good for 340hp and 369lb ft of torque – gains of 14hp and 37lb ft. There’s been a slight improvement in 0-62mph times with the Coupe taking just 4.8 seconds and the Convertible 4.9 seconds. That’s for cars equipped with the slick six-speed manual ‘box, but opt for the ZF eight-speed sport auto (a £1600 option) and those figures drop to 4.6 and 4.7 respectively.
As well as performance improvements we’ve seen benefits in both economy and emissions with the Coupe returning 36.2 and 39.8mpg (manual and auto respectively), with the Convertible’s figures being 34.0 and 38.2. Better emission outputs sees the Coupe drop a VED band which actually makes the M240i cheaper than the M235!
How do they drive?
In a nutshell, brilliantly. You could be forgiven for thinking that 14hp and 37lb ft isn’t a huge difference between the M235i and the M240i, but the B58 engine now fitted to the car is an absolute peach and it now feels more eager to rev while also being incredibly flexible – it’ll pull from walking to pace to over 100mph in fourth gear with ease.
We drove a manual Coupe and an auto Convertible and both cars feel as quick as their headline figures suggest and the soft-top does a very good job of hiding its additional 160kg – you’d be hard pressed to spot it in a straight-line drag race. When really pressing on through the twisties you do feel a slight weight penalty in the Convertible, but it’s only something you notice in extremis and given that the car’s structure generally feels pretty robust and free from scuttle shake we certainly wouldn’t shy away from being tempted by the soft top.
Both test cars were fitted with the optional M Adaptive suspension (a £515 option) and while BMW says there have been no changes made to this between the M235i and the M240i we were convinced there was slightly more differentiation between the Comfort and Sport modes than we’d experienced previously. In Comfort it’s exactly that, in Sport you’ll feel surface imperfections through the steering wheel and the seat of your pants, but it does offer better control when pushing towards the limit.
The one area where the Cabrio scores over the Coupe though is in the aural stimulation department – with the hood down you really do get to hear more of that gorgeous straight-six, and even with the hood up there’s more to be heard. Both cars elicit a delicious brumpph on the over-run and when swapping cogs when you’re on a charge so it’s a shame it can’t be heard better in the Coupe.
Both Coupe and Convertible make a pretty convincing case for themselves, and it’s worth bearing in mind that the M2 costs a pretty significant £10k more than the 240i Coupe. In 95 per cent of your driving the M240i will be just as quick, and as an everyday driver its slightly less frenetic nature will be more cosseting when you’re not in the mood for a banzai charge. To be compared favourably to an M2 a car has to be pretty exceptional, and the M240i is just that.