2017 BMW M240i Coupe Review

A Future Classic

A gentle squeeze of the treadle-style accelerator is all it takes to reveal the BMW M240i’s unbridled enthusiasm, which lurks just behind a veil of aristocratic civility. Based on its subdued exterior, you’d never guess the explosive performance that’s just a toe tap away.

As revs build, the straight-six pulls with liquid smoothness, like drizzles of olive oil on a Caprese salad. Turbine engines yearn for such refinement.

Available as a coupe or convertible, the 2017 BMW M240i is a true high-performance driving machine and a 21st-century reincarnation of the brand’s iconic 2002 from decades long ago. It ups the standard 2 Series’ athleticism without encroaching on the ruthlessness of an M2. High performance with everyday livability, it’s smack-dab in the Venn diagram’s meaty center, in this case, an exceedingly happy place to be.

Tucked behind that twin-kidney grille is the heart of a lion, BMW’s B58 engine, a boosted six displacing an even 3.0-liters. With direct fuel injection and a turbocharger forcing its half dozen pistons down on every intake cycle, it’s rated at 335 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque.

In comparison, the M2 delivers 30 additional ponies, but it’s endowed with less twist, only 343 pound-feet, though it does have an overboost function that allows it to match the M240i’s prodigious sum.

Thoroughbred Performance

Acceleration is effortless with the engine pulling vigorously in every gear at nearly any speed. Even with the stubby shifter pulled all the way into sixth, it’s still got more to give as you roll on the throttle. It’ll lug right along at idle without vibration or choppiness betraying your unwillingness to downshift.

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When equipped with three pedals, the M240i can hit 60 miles an hour in as little as 4.6 seconds. Opt for the available eight-speed automatic and that time falls by another two-tenths. Grab all-wheel drive (only offered with the self-shifting gearbox) and this car will make mile-a-minute velocity yours in as little as 4.2 ticks, a performance that’s all over the M2’s. No matter the version, top speed is 130 miles an hour.

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Wind it out, and not only are you treated to a river of silky thrust but musical notes as well, the engine seeming to ring, a classic sound that brings to mind a reverberating tuning fork. I mean, come on, is it really a BMW if it doesn’t have six in a row under the hood? This engine arrangement is to the Bavarian automaker what soft-serve is to Dairy Queen, tie-dye to hippies, or foot blisters to marathon runners. It’s baked into their DNA like chopped nuts in an apple-walnut cake.

A slick if rubbery shifter allows you to manually rifle through the M240i’s half-dozen forward ratios. Missed shifts are rare and the throws short, though a touch more precision in the mechanics would be nice. Still, it’s great the company continues to offer manual gearboxes. How much longer this will continue is anyone’s guess so get ‘em while you can.

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For a relatively small car, the clutch pedal is far heavier than expected. There’s heft when you step, some meat on its bones, which, paradoxically, makes the M240i easier to drive, at least for me, as the engagement point is easier to feel through the soul of your left foot.

Around town, Uncle Sam and his minions at the EPA estimate this Bimmer should deliver 19 miles per gallon. Keep your foot off the accelerator so boost pressures remain low and you should be able to achieve 28 on the highway without issue, though probably net even more on long hauls. Combined, it’s rated at 22 mpg, which is totally respectable for a car so swift.

Road Manners

Given its thorough engineering, the M240i’s chassis is more than able to cope with all that under-hood fury. Deftly navigating turns, this machine is a passionate dance partner, building driver confidence as you push it to corner at ever-greater speeds.

Ride quality is taut but never punishing. Refinement is probably this car’s biggest advantage over the M2, which for many drivers is likely too extreme for everyday use. Giving you control over the how it feels going over the road is BMW’s Adaptive M Suspension system, which is standard in the M240i. With a variety of settings from Comfort to Sport and beyond you can commute from Monday to Friday and still race with confidence on weekends. It really is the best of both worlds.

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Not surprisingly given its heritage, this car also changes direction with eerie precision. The chunky Alcantara-and-carbon-fiber-trimmed M Sport Steering Wheel is meaty in your paws and oh-so-pleasant to use, plus it’s augmented with a series of LEDs and a small screen at the 12-o’clock position. This F1-inspired bit of kit can display things like a G meter, lap timer, quarter-mile monitor and more. Functions are controlled via a pair of thumb-actuated buttons hidden under the suede-like covering.

Luxury Light

The M240i’s steering wheel is the centerpiece of its cabin, which is sturdy feeling if somewhat utilitarian. Materials quality is generally high and assembly peerless, though it’s not an overwhelmingly luxurious place. If you want outrageous opulence, grab a 7 Series. This car is all about driving.

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Up front, the buckets are widely adjustable and plenty comfortable, being cut wide for everyday comfort. A little more bolstering might be appreciated by road racers and auto-crossers but broader clientele will likely be satisfied with these chairs. Around back, there’s room for two, in theory. No adult is going to be very comfortable in the M240i’s aft bench; it’s best used for storage when the car’s relatively trim 13.8-cubic-foot trunk is filled. Children might be an exception.

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Matching its brisk acceleration is BMW’s latest version of iDrive, which is surprisingly snappy, responding immediately to twirls of its control knob and presses of the satellite buttons nestled within finger reach. Handwriting recognition makes it super easy to enter addresses or search for points of interest; just draw letters and numbers on top of that large, circular dial. This system’s menu structure is generally easy to figure out but you might want to spend some time familiarizing yourself with a few of its finer points as there’s quite a lot going on in there.

The Verdict: 2017 BMW M240i Coupe Review

Perhaps one of the best all-around performance cars you can buy today, the M240i is fast and fun yet still totally livable; it’s an absolute gem. Dynamic and involving, this is the perfect car for enthusiasts that want an all-in-one package, a vehicle that’s fast around a closed circuit yet still comfortable enough for weekday drives to work.

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And luckily for them, that well-rounded performance won’t lead to personal bankruptcy because the M240i starts at less than $46,000 ($48,796 including freight and PDI in Canada). Even our popularly equipped tester, which featured things like an optional navigation system ($1,950), Apple CarPlay compatibility ($300), gorgeous Estoril Blue Metallic paint ($700), and Oyster Dakota leather ($1,450) checked out at $52,870 including $995 in destination charges, which is entirely reasonable for a future classic, something that could be better than an M2.

Discuss this story on our BMW Forum

  • Isend2C

    I think that this is a lovely car and I understand its appeal… But a Camaro SS would trounce it, while saving several grand. I’ve been pushed away from luxury brands since they offer so little for so much. I haven’t found their quality to be significantly better – “Materials quality is generally high” is said in almost EVERY review nowadays, including a $18,000 Corolla.

    I’ll stick with an optioned-up mainstream brand which offers me a faster car, with more features, reliability, and charisma. The 2-series is a great car with a 6 cylinder… but it’s not worth its price to me.

  • craigcole

    The Camaro SS is a GREAT car, ain’t nothin’ wrong with it (other than the limited outward visibility). That LS V8 will put a smile on your face all day long.