With the current 3-Series now nearly as big as the old 5-Series from 20 years ago, many believe BMW is giving up on the small, fun two-doors that won the company so many enthusiasts across the past 40-plus years. The 2 Series coupe, introduced in 2013, quelled many of those fears since it delivered joy reminiscent of cars like the beloved E46 3-Series or the delicious 1-Series M. Those fears were reignited when rumors of a new taller, wider, and longer 2-Series appeared. Would the small, rear-drive (often all-wheel drive) BMW finally die and stay dead? Well, no. The mojo goes on and thrives in the new 2022 2-Series.
Even without the massive double-coffin grille that burdens the 4-series, the new 2s looks are polarizing. In place of the gracefully understated lines are sharp angles and oddly shaped exterior lights. Things get especially confusing in profile, where it’s as if the front clip has been stretched six inches too far, ruining the proportions. The new M240i is 3.5 inches longer, 2.6 inches wider, and 0.1 inches lower than its predecessor with a 107.9 inch wheelbase (within half an inch of the E46 M3). “Small” is always relative.
That short-ish wheelbase means the 2-Series is the most nimble car in BMW’s 2022 line. When the M2 comes out the full potential of this chassis should be discovered. But right now, the all-wheel drive M240i xDrive shows that the bones are there. There’s an extra layer of agility and precision that’s not in the equivalent 4-Series coupe. A 50-50 weight distribution, standard adaptive suspension, and an electronically controlled limited-slip differential out back mean that despite the 3871-pound curb weight, the car feels lithe and eager to change direction. And thanks to the available Pirelli P Zero tires—245/35R19 up front and 255/35R19 out back—there’s no shortage of grip.
On a race track, it’s clear after a few laps that the M240i is not a full-blown M division car. There’s a good deal of body roll through corners and the xDrive system prioritizes keeping the car pointed straight under throttle rather than letting the driver figure things out on corner exit. And unlike the big-boy Ms, there’s no 2WD mode to switch to. The steering feels ultra-quick and responds as soon as you even think about registering steering input, but it’s totally lacking in actual road feel. And while the brakes held up to dozens of laps under the hot sun during our day with the car, the pedal became unnervingly soft by the time the sun set. If you do plan to pick one of these up for track use, be prepared to swap in some more durable pads and high-temp fluid.
On the road, where M240i will spend 99.9 percent of its time, the car is extremely pleasant. The cabin shares its basic layout with the 3- and 4-Series, and many of the buttons and touchpoints carryover. The seat should go a bit lower, but there’s plenty of adjustment and a good deal of visibility out back once positioned correctly. A real volume knob and physical climate adjustments are always welcome, as are standard wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
The widely used 382-horsepower 3.0-liter turbocharged B58 inline-six is shared with a handful of other BMWs, and is mated here to the ubiquitous ZF eight-speed automatic. Able to rocket the car to 60 mph in a claimed 4.1 seconds, it has enough oomph to exceed any speed limit almost casually. Peak torque of 369 lb-ft comes in at just 1800 rpm and lasts until 5000 rpm, so there’s no desperate search for gears to blast out of a tough situation—just mash the throttle and let the turbos do the work.
But, alas, there is no true shift yourself option. The manual gearbox has been dropped from the 2-Series altogether for 2022, so that torque-converter eight-speed is all you can get in both the M240i and cheaper 230i. You’re breaking our collective hearts, BMW. Thankfully the manual is likely to appear when the M2 debuts next year. But it sucks that buyers must leap up all the way to the flagship model to get a third pedal.
With a starting MSRP of $49,545, the M240i xDrive occupies a unique spot in the performance car market. It’s not as driver-focused as Toyota’s similarly priced GR Supra 3.0 (which is, of course, pretty much a BMW too), its all-weather capability and vastly more practical four-seater layout mean it can appeal to a broader audience. The most hardcore among us will wait for the M2, but the M240i is an excellent balance between performance and usability. Except for the looks, that is.
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