Words: Calvin Chan
Photography: Calvin Chan
Published: November 24, 2017
Here in the Canadian part of the hemisphere, our team of editors rarely get any rear-wheel drive cars to evaluate, especially when there’s an all-wheel drive variant available. Not only do Canadians love all-wheel drive but in some parts of this land, it’s a necessity. So you can only imagine how ecstatic we were when we got the keys to a rear-wheel drive 2018 BMW M240i Coupe with a near-extinct manual transmission. Our test vehicle was even draped in a beautiful Sunset Orange paint, heartily reminiscent of Valencia Orange that donned the rare BMW 1M.
The 2 Series is a particularly handsome BMW, but let’s forget about aesthetics for a moment and focus on what this delightful machine is all about - the drive. Right off the bat, the M240i nails the perfect driving position - the wheel telescopes far back, the gear shifter is at the perfect arm’s length, and the pedals have deep but linear travel. I haven’t felt this snug and comfortable in quite some time. The overall interior is functional without any technological distractions, and doesn’t focus on swaddling you in leather and gimmicks like the 5 Series, but moreso tries to let you focus on the road ahead. That being said, the M240i still comes with modern creature comforts like a heated steering wheel, wireless Apple CarPlay, and real time traffic information.
But once you get a taste of that 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six under the hood, it will make you wonder why standard V6 engines aren’t extinct by now. This straight-six is a masterpiece in seamless and potent power delivery, offering a healthy 335 hp and 369 lb-ft with excellent low speed pickup and an even more aggressive mid-range before running out of breath near 6,000 rpm. From 0 rpm to the redline, there are no hiccups, no interruptions in forward acceleration, no jerkiness - it’s like all the horses are galloping on a hovering carpet slicing through the air from 0-100 km/h in a swift 4.8 seconds (0.2 seconds slower than the automatic, and 0.4 seconds slower than the xDrive variant with automatic). I think it’s worth mentioning that the M240i is only 35 horses shy of the M2, as both offer the same amount of torque from the same engine.
The steering is nicely weighted and isn’t interrupted by a front driveshaft - it feels so pure and uncorrupted. Though this electric setup isn’t as analog as a Subaru WRX STI or a Nissan 370Z NISMO, you get rather used to “guessing” how much grip the front wheels have - rather easy with the near-perfect front-to-rear balance of this M240i, and with power only being sent to the rear axle.
Surprisingly, I actually prefer the softer sprung “Comfort” mode damping. The Sport mode dampers are a little too stiff, crashing and undulating in a controlled manner but it’s way too rigid and uncomfortable for the daily commute. Luckily you can adjust the Sport mode to have aggressive throttle mapping and power delivery but with soft dampers. I would even go so far as to say it’s better sprung than the hardcore BMW M2 if you’re looking for a compromisable daily driver. At least there’s a discernible difference between Comfort and Sport modes, unlike many other vehicles with adjustable suspensions that don’t feel any stiffer.
A six-speed manual is standard and an 8-speed automatic is available for a $1,600 premium. Even if you’re not the most adept at driving stick, I’d still recommend opting for it. This gearbox is probably one of the smoothest manual transmissions I’ve ever used. It’s uncommonly easy to control with clearly defined gates void of any notchiness, the setup is beginner-friendly, and it even comes with a rev matching feature to make you feel heroic when braking and tackling corners. The clutch is heavier than most and will give your left leg a workout if you’re used to the overly light ones in Japanese cars, but the bite point is predictable and forgiving. The real takeaway is that the three-pedalled M240i operates with the finesse of an automatic, but with the driver engagement of a manual. If there was ever a vehicle you should learn how to drive manual in, it’s this.
Disappointingly, the rev matching feature is not always consistent, especially when downshifting and skipping a gear, say from sixth to fourth. It also doesn’t rev match at particularly low speeds. The exhaust of the M240i could be a little louder. Our test vehicle even had the M Performance Exhaust but it wasn’t in your face brash or bombastic. I expected 440i levels of explosive decibels seeing as they use the same engine, but then again I guess not everyone wants to be uncouth and uncivilized in their neighbourhood. The M240i hits a more mature and professional note. And while we’re on the topic of gripes, I’d also like to mention the cramped rear seats (my six-foot figure will fit back there but only if I squat and get into fetal position), heated steering wheel that barely feels heated, and expensive options list dilating the base price into another tax bracket.
Balancing these vices off are the newly redesigned instrument panel for 2018. The gauges are still analog but no longer orange. Instead it’s a pale white that almost appears digital. Nevertheless, it’s much cleaner cut though a little more glaring on the eyes at night. Another thumbs up goes to the signal stalk, which actually stays in the up or down position when flicked, not in the middle like other BMW models with a center-levelling stalk.
The M240i is a powerful reminder of why we love driving, with rear tires squirming for traction, uncorrupted steering inputs, and a flawless and modest engine that enthusiasts dream about. Even having the ability to purchase a coupe like this in today’s world of dying manual transmissions and rear-wheel drive setups is a miracle. We’re just glad it’s even offered up in here in Canada. Now about that M5 Touring wagon...
型号 Model: 2018 BMW M240i Coupe
顏色 Paint Type: Sunset Orange
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $47,000
試車售價 Price as Tested: $57,200
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2,690
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4,469 / 1,774 / 1,408
車重 Curb weight (kg): 1,587
引擎 Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged inline-six
最大馬力 Horsepower: 335 hp @ 5,500 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 369 lb-ft @ 1,520 - 4,500 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed manual
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, RWD
油耗 Fuel Consumption ( City / Highway / Combined ) L/100km: 12.3 / 8.3 / 10.5
油耗 Observed Fuel Consumption (L/100km): 11.5
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Pirelli P Zero; Front 225/40ZR18; Rear 245/35ZR18