By Nick Hodgson
BMW slogans have hit a speed wobble of late, being all marketing talk without a whole lot of substance to back them up. It’s also safe to say that the competition has caught up and in many cases surpassed the brand regarded as being industry leading in so many segments. I strongly believe that BMW desperately needs a few top notch vehicles to re-establish themselves once again as the driver’s choice. Luckily the BMW M 240i may just be such a car as quite simply it’s one of the best vehicles I’ve driven in the last year or so.
The BMW M 240i is a two door, four seater coupe saloon, with a front engine, rear wheel drive configuration. Many BMW purists would say this is exactly as a BMW should be, the simple recipe that helped take them to revered heights, so much so it seems no wrong can be done. Of course the market for such a car is diminishing, just take a look at vehicle sales statistics over the last while and you’ll see every segment shrinking apart from the SUV. Of course we’re in troubling economic times so of course people are naturally going to play it on the safe side, but wow am I glad BMW didn’t.
Speaking of statistics, performance car sales seem to be based almost exclusively on them now. 0-100 in X seconds. How many kilowatts have you got? Torque figures? How about Nurburgring times? These numbers at the end of the day just depress me as so often it just seems to be something to impress your mates with rather than indicate what a great machine it is. So if you’re expecting to find performance figures in this review, please look somewhere else as all I’m going to talk about is driving.
Before we get into that though, let’s take a quick look at the rest. It looks fantastic, the right amount of BMW aggressive front end and well-proportioned like only a coupe can be. Inside it’s a BMW. Interiors aren’t really the brand’s strong point anymore I’m afraid, however I do still really appreciate the simplicity of the instrument cluster. I’m still not a fan of the BMW idrive system and feel there are too many sub menus within submenus to get to fairly basic functions.
But enough of that, back to the drive. Firstly, the driving position is fantastic, seats bolstering the right areas, position in front of the wheel fantastic and enough adjustment between the wheel and the seat to get you into a proper driving position for some serious driving. The steering wheel is also a great size, BMW wheels are often thicker than most, but I find it comfortable and natural in my hands. It’s amazing the confidence that a proper steering wheel can give the driver. Of course we’ve got an electric steering system behind it and while not as good as the Porsche system, there’s very little else that comes close.
And its rear wheel drive. With power. The old 235i I found somewhat disappointing, especially when compared to the M2. In comparison it seemed heavy at the front, generating way more understeer than necessary, which just left a taste of disappointment in my mouth through the quicker corners. With the M240i I find a massive change for the better. The car is just fun to drive. It feels balanced and composed through corners and boy is it fast. The only thing I find myself wishing for is a proper limited slip differential over the half hearted electronic version fitted as standard. But wouldn’t you know, there is just such an option available, squirrelled in amongst the long, long list of optional extras we’re now so used to when buying a BMW.
Look back over time and there are many cars that stand out as shining examples of motoring excellence, cars that have become highly collectable and desirable amongst enthusiasts and investors alike. Often these vehicles came out in difficult times, sometimes so much so that they were only discovered as being fantastic years later. The BMW M240i is a car that could be one such forgotten gem and I hope it gets the recognition is deserves as being one of the best driver’s cars out there right now and we don’t lament it’s passing before we’ve even realised it’s gone. As mentioned, the old 235i left me thinking the M2 was really worth the step up in price. The M240i has done such an amazing job of revitalisation that it’s made me almost entirely reconsider my position on the M2. Fit your M240i with a proper LSD and you’re going to have an amazing machine on your hands. Maybe it won’t go down in history as a vehicle with the best stats, but a proper drivers car that will leave any petrolhead worth their salt jealous.