Due in Australia soon, we hit the road in Germany with BMW’s new 2 Series Coupe in hot M240i guise.
Compact sporty coupes are a dying breed. Beyond the much smaller and more affordable Toyota GR 86, the new BMW 2 Series Coupe will face few new rivals. Even then, the Japanese machine isn’t really a competitor for this current range-topper, the $89,990 before on-road costs M240i xDrive.
Brands such as Audi and Mercedes are deserting the sector, with no direct replacement for the former’s TT on the way, while the latter is looking for profit elsewhere in the compact sports car market. However, with its focus on driver’s cars, BMW has rebooted the 2 Series Coupe formula for 2022, albeit sticking with a rear-wheel-drive layout, six-cylinder power and a genuinely sporty focus.
Starting with the first point, this new 2 Series Coupe sits on a modified version of the platform used by the 3 Series and 4 Series. That means rear-wheel drive is available, although this range-topping M240i is four-wheel drive only.
However, it’s an M-derived xDrive set-up, so it’s engineered with a rear bias to keep the sensation of the front-engined, rear-driven layout that BMW’s best coupes have traditionally been known for.
The engine is a 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder unit that produces a healthy 285kW and a fat 500Nm of torque – strong figures for a small, 1655kg machine. From start-up it feels brawny, with a deep, purposeful and slightly musical edge to its gargling exhaust note that four-cylinder rivals can’t match.
Lower yourself inside, and the positives continue. The driving position is good, the long bonnet and short tail mean the proportions feel natural and right, and the interior is a scaled-down version of what’s on offer in the 4 Series, so it suits the car. The rear seats aren’t huge, but are still big enough for short trips, or for kids.
Right away the chassis feels taut. It’s smooth and controlled, but the M240i feels as if it contains a level of aggression that it can’t wait for you to unleash. The first time you flex your right foot in Sport Plus mode, the coupe shoots forward with an urgency that only a big engine in a small car can give.
The M240i never feels over-powered, but you’re aware there’s a muscular unit under the bonnet at all times. The soundtrack is enhanced in the sportier settings, but it works well, and there’s always plenty of performance on offer. That maximum torque figure is available from as little as 1520rpm, so left to its own devices, the eight-speed automatic gearbox shifts up early and unobtrusively to help make relaxed progress.
It’s helped by the chassis, because in Comfort mode the suspension smooths out lumps in the road with composure, no doubt helped by this new 2 Series Coupe’s 51mm-longer wheelbase. This is matched by an ever greater increase in front track width, at 63mm. It’s 35mm wider at the rear, too, and this growth in its dimensions has been accompanied by an evolution in BMW’s design language.
The grille is yet another new design, but it’s not as challenging as some of the brand’s other offerings. The slim headlights with single light units are meant to recall BMW’s 2002 coupe.
It’s the rear that’s more forward-thinking, with a line that wraps around the tail-light units, adding more width to its appearance, with those rear clusters sporting a new running-light design, too. Throw in a few more sharp angles and creases on the bumpers and a strong side profile, and the M240i xDrive certainly looks the part.
Thankfully, it has the dynamic ability to back them up. The M240i is all about putting the driver at the heart of the experience, and stepping the powertrain and chassis modes up does just that.