Our Take on the 2023 BMW M240i
With the new M2 out, it would be easy for the BMW M240i to get overshadowed were it not such a strong car in its own right. This is classic BMW. Two doors, (relatively) compact dimensions, luxurious cabin, brawny straight-six, rear-wheel drive. On paper, it's extremely appealing, and that's the case in real life, too.
It actually proves to be a good foil for the M2 as well. You get almost all the performance of the more expensive car, with even more daily livability. The M240i doesn't quite render the M2 pointless, but it certainly is the better car for a lot of buyers beyond even the price.
The current generation 2 Series debuted in 2021, and for 2023, it got an updated digital gauge cluster and larger infotainment screen shared with other BMW models like the 3 Series. In many ways, the 2 Series is really just a shrunken, two-door 3 Series, sharing the same basic chassis as the long-running sport sedan. It's a little larger overall than the previous 2 Series, and it ditches the cabriolet body style. Note that the 2 Series Gran Coupe is an entirely different car, riding on a front-wheel-drive platform shared with Mini models.
Both the turbocharged inline-four and -six engines are carried over from the previous 2 Series, though the 'six gets a big power bump, and an eight-speed automatic is the only transmission. If you want a manual, you need to step up to the M2. BMW does, however, offer both 230i and M240i with xDrive all-wheel drive.
Superb engine and transmission.
Balanced chassis that doesn't sacrifice ride comfort for handling.
Excellent build quality.
Seats are hard and slightly angled inward.
Styling not to everyone's taste.
Driver assist systems aren't standard.
Performance, Engine & Horsepower
Here is where the M240i shines. Its 3.0-liter straight-six offers 382 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, though in typical BMW fashion, these numbers seem pessimistic. This is a very fast car, one that hardly feels like it's giving up anything to the M2. Unless you're doing a lot of track days, you don't need a quicker car than an M240i.
BMW's straight-six is one of the best engines on the market today. There's a ton of torque from very low in the rev range, but it pulls hard all the way up to its 7000-rpm redline. No other straight-six on the market has quite this level of flexibility, and high-rev appetite. There's very little noticeable turbo lag, plus being a straight-six means the engine is impeccably smooth.
As much as a manual transmission would inject a welcome bit of character into this car—as it did with the Toyota Supra 3.0, which uses the same engine—the eight-speed automatic is essentially perfect. When you use the paddles, shifts are fast and crisp, yet in normal driving, it's wonderfully smooth.
Make no mistake, this engine/transmission combination is the benchmark that all automakers should aim to live up to. If there are any faults, it's perhaps the engine's nasal sound, but that's it.
Despite being a powerful, heavy car, the M240i is remarkably fuel efficient. The EPA says it'll get 22 mpg in the city, 32 on the highway and 26 combined. We didn't do any scientific fuel-economy testing but found that on longer highway jaunts, the M240i regularly exceeded the 30-mpg mark.
This year, I was tasked with pre-running the route for our annual Hudson Quattrocento rally, which meant compressing around 400 miles of the best backroads across Connecticut and upstate New York plus a couple of longer highway trips into the space of two long days. I wanted a car that would be easy for the boring stuff, entertaining on the fun stuff. The M240i was just about perfect.
Obviously the engine and transmission are excellent, but so too is the chassis, especially in rear-wheel-drive form. That classic BMW balance is there in the corners, and it's fun feeling the electronic locking rear-differential helping you scramble out of corners. Especially without a manual, the M240i isn't the most engaging car in the world, and the steering feels quite numb. You'll also struggle to find a road that flummoxes the car. It's so competent in everything it does.
There are cars out there that offer a greater spread between comfort and sporty ride quality, but the M240i is perfectly livable. I found myself leaving the car in its Comfort drive setting and putting the transmission into Sport mode for twistier roads. The harsher ride and heavier steering in the M240i's more amped-up drive modes don't really add anything to the car.
At 3748 pounds, the M240i is unfortunately very heavy, but that never presents itself as an issue in road driving. And when my route scouting was all done and I had a three-hour drive back to New York City, the M240i disappeared beneath me. It was quiet, comfortable, and effortless.
For 2024, the BMW M240i starts at $50,965 and our 2023 tester stickered for $58,420. (A 2024 equivalent would cost $59,620.)
It's a lot of money, but I actually think it's a good deal. For starters, the M240i is over $10,000 cheaper than the almost-mechanically-identical M440i, and there really isn't much else in its segment. Its closest rival is the Toyota Supra, which is lighter and sportier, but starts around $5000 more, too. You could get a Nissan Z or Ford Mustang GT for less than the M240i, and while those have more power, they're much less refined and luxurious.
I'll also say that BMW is a little stingy with some options. Lumbar support shouldn't be a $300 option in a car like this—an option our tester didn't have—and adaptive cruise control is another $500. This sort of thing is par for the course in modern European luxury cars, though that doesn't make it less annoying.
Also of note was our tester's $2400 Cooling and High-Performance Tire package, which should give the M240i some track-day capability. Unfortunately, we weren't able to put it to the test.
The 2 Series doesn't have BMW's flashiest interior. Still, it's very nice overall, with good materials throughout and a very easy to understand control layout. The seating position is odd, however, with the front seats canted inwards. It means you sit a little twisted behind the wheel, and this can be a drag after a long day's drive. Another demerit is moving most of the climate controls into the infotainment system rather than use physical knobs and switches on the dash. At least BMW hasn't gone down the road of haptic controls.
We addressed ride comfort and noise earlier, and while both are great, the seats left a little to be desired. There's the issue around lumbar support being an option, and generally, they're just a little hard. After a couple hours behind the wheel, I found myself needing to get out and stretch or take a walk. On the flip side, they don't offer quite enough side and shoulder bolstering for fast driving either. The rear seats are also quite cramped, as you'd expect with a small coupe. Occasional-adult or child-use only, folks. All that said, I would never describe the M240i as an uncomfortable car. It's just that the seats aren't the best.
BMW's iDrive system has long been one of the best infotainment systems on the market, and here it works very well. The fact that climate controls are integrated into the screen makes changing certain settings, like heated seats, unnecessarily complicated, and the Apps menu is dauntingly large. Still, the rest of the system is very good and benefits enormously from the rotary knob controller and shortcut buttons in the center console.
Practicality is probably not the first thing on a BMW 2 Series buyer's wishlist, but the 14-cubic-foot trunk is nice and usable. Definitely more so than those the hatchback Toyota Supra and Nissan Z, and larger than the Mustang's 13-cubic-foot trunk.
While the M240i is not without its faults, its strengths far outweigh any shortcomings. This is a lovely sports coupe like so many BMW two-doors that came before it. The M240i isn't quite like anything else on the market, either, with a unique blend of performance, everyday livability, luxury, and reasonable price. It's simply a hard car to argue against.
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