When it arrived in the US for 2008, the BMW 1 Series aped the legendary 2002 in many ways: engaging dynamics, two-door coupe bodywork, and nimble proportions – as well as slightly dorky styling. However, its 2014 2 Series replacement was a bit more sterile and uninteresting, requiring a jump to the big-dog M2 if you wanted to have fun.
Luckily, the 2022 BMW 2 Series brings zesty performance back to the entry-level coupe family, with snappy handling and a vibrant powertrain that should make a believer out of anyone who doubts modern BMW’s ability to make an involving driver’s car. It even looks good, with clever design touches that hearken back to that original Bimmer compact two-door of the 1960s and 1970s. Purists may decry the lack of a manual transmission and the mandatory all-wheel drive of the M240i model, but the coupe still finds a way to blend BMW’s best modern attributes with dynamics befitting its heritage and predecessors.
|Quick Stats||2022 BMW M240i Coupe xDrive|
|Engine:||Turbocharged 3.0-Liter I6|
|Output:||382 Horsepower / 369 Pound-Feet|
|0-60 MPH:||4.1 Seconds|
|Top Speed:||155 MPH|
|Trim Base Price:||$49,545|
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Gallery: 2022 BMW M240i: First Drive
Although its kidney grilles are far less imposing than those of the 4 Series, 7 Series, or X7, the BMW 2 Series nevertheless makes styling waves. Foremost, it’s the first production BMW in decades not to feature two lighting elements in the headlights, with single projectors peeking out from little triangular housings. It’s a deliberate deviation meant to hearken back to the time before quad headlights were standard BMW fare. The proportions also recall the company’s sport sedan legends – the crisp shoulder line above bulging front and rear fenders are pure 2002 Turbo, as are the upright greenhouse and slight forward lean to the front fascia.
The 2 Series still borrows liberally from modern BMW’s playbook, though, with sharp creases and an almost American power bulge appearing on the hood. Triangular vents on the bumper corners demand attention; they’re massive on the M240i and only slightly more subtle on the 230i. And the aggressively chamfered rear fascia’s geometric lower bumper cutouts are decidedly unusual. However, the grab bag of vintage and modern styling cues works well in person, giving the 2 Series a planted stance and nearly endless visual interest. The only exceptions are the needlessly complex taillights, whose gloss black housings look far larger than necessary.
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Inside, BMW cribbed the cabin design from the larger 3 Series. A hexagonal infotainment binnacle resides above a sloping center stack, with a gloss black shift selector and iDrive controller on the console. The 2 Series livens up those corporate design cues with a few funky accents like our tester’s black leather with bright blue stitching, as well as optional ambient lighting with perforated door panel trim that allows red light to shine through – you can also spec the BMW M tri-bar color scheme if you prefer.
With 38.1 inches of headroom and 41.8 inches of legroom, the front row is reasonably spacious for most folks, though the narrow sport seats felt a bit confining after an hour or two. The rear is another story altogether. As with most coupes, legroom is tight at 32.2 inches, and headroom goes down to 34.7 ticks of the tape, a reduction of 2.3 inches relative to the outgoing two-door. It seems BMW would prefer you select the mechanically unrelated, front-drive-biased 2 Series Gran Coupe if you’ve got passengers to haul around.
Instead, the 2 Series coupe is better suited to carrying two folks off to far-flung locales, preferably ones that lie at the end of a narrow, curvy road. Apart from full-fledged M models, no BMW in recent history has felt as alive as the M240i we drove in the mountains around Thermal, California. The coupe is rather delightful on those pristine roads, with particular credit going to the 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine under that chiseled hood. Producing 382 horsepower and 369 pound-feet, the minimal turbo lag and flat torque curve provide good off-the-line and midrange performance, and the responsive eight-speed automatic is a good match here.
BMW estimates the M240i will hit 60 miles per hour in just 4.1 seconds, with a silken inline-six whir from under the hood accompanying crackling turbocharged snarls from the rear tailpipes. In Sport and Sport Plus, the 2 Series is downright exciting, with throttle response that’s too sharp in normal driving but a total delight if you’ve lit your hair on fire. Speaking of heat, we drove a vehicle equipped with a $2,400 high-performance cooling package, which brought an auxiliary oil cooler, more powerful engine fan, and grippy summer tires to the mix.
In Sport and Sport Plus, the 2 Series is downright exciting.
The powertrain may be the marquee headliner, but the M240i’s supporting acts are pretty good too. The suspension masterfully balances composure on a rough road with excellent body control in corners, and standard xDrive all-wheel drive means plenty of grip once you’ve clipped that apex. The 107.9-inch wheelbase is 4.3 inches shorter than that of the 4 Series, making the M240i feel quite a bit nimbler than its big sibling (even if it is 2.0 inches longer between the axles than the outgoing coupe).
In fact, the 2 Series almost crosses over into nervousness if you’re not expecting its quick responses – it’s not quite tail-happy, but BMW’s newest coupe is decidedly more playful than other cars in the company’s lineup. The M240i’s standard M Sport brakes help rein things in, with a responsive and firm pedal that imparts confidence. The quick steering is also a boon, helping the attentive driver keep the nose pointed in the right direction. Unfortunately, the electrically assisted rack is still short on feel, as most BMWs have been since 2012.
As responsive and enjoyable as it is on a canyon run, the BMW M240i is also pleasant on the daily grind, too. Set the vehicle to Eco Pro or Comfort and the individual systems soften up considerably, with lighter steering, a smoother ride, and blunted throttle response that makes stoplight getaways easier and gentler (if a bit lethargic). The upright greenhouse and relatively narrow roof pillars ease anxiety around town, giving the driver a good view in all directions. Ride comfort on the open road is good too, absorbing large obstacles with a muted thump and covering up small ones almost completely.
Thanks to optional leather upholstery, adjustable lumbar support, heated steering wheel and front seats, head-up display, digital instrument cluster, and advanced driver assistance, the 2 Series we drove was an adroit commuter. We’re not positive how much comfort one would sacrifice by going without those boxes ticked, but as equipped, the BMW coupe is pretty cushy (as long as you’re in the front row).
Piggy Bank Breaker
The BMW 230i, available only with rear-wheel drive, starts at a reasonable $37,345 with $995 destination, while the M240i xDrive demands $49,545. However, equipped with the aforementioned leather ($1,450), a $2,750 premium pack, and a $1,450 Driving Assistance pack, as well as eye-catching Thunder Night paint ($545) and a few other odds and ends, our tester rang the bell at $59,645. There’s no denying that’s a whole lot of cash for a subcompact, non-M Bimmer. It also puts the M240i in dangerous waters, where sharks like the $56,950 Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 and probably sub-$60,000 Audi RS3 prey.
We’d consider leaving the $400 extended shadowline package on the cutting room floor, since without it the M240i gets interesting warm-gray accents on the grilles and mirror caps instead. The high-performance cooling package might also be overkill, especially for folks who live in mild climates or who don’t plan to take their new Bimmer to the track. So equipped, the M240i is a more reasonable $56,845.
EPA-rated at 23 miles per gallon city, 32 highway, and 26 combined, the quick coupe is even commendably efficient, if you need some additional justification for purchase. The 2022 Audi S3 has the same city and highway ratings, but a combined rating of 27 mpg, while the Mercedes-AMG CLA 35 can only muster 22 city, 29 highway, and 25 combined.
Still, the best reason to buy one will never show up on a ledger or a spec chart. The M240i’s snappy agility and retro-tinged styling reminded us more than once of BMW’s golden age, when driver involvement was more important than headline-grabbing styling and technology. Yes, your inner Luddite will cry out for a manual gearbox (ours did), but in every other meaningful way, the BMW M240i is a satisfying, enjoyable compact sports car.
M240i Competitor Review
2022 BMW M240i xDrive