As part of my job I get to drive quite a few cars. During these review periods I like many of the cars I’ve spent time with but then the next car arrives, and I quickly forget the one that I had the week before.
A few weeks ago, BMW sent me the new 2022 M240i xDrive coupe to review. Their timing was perfect because the next day I needed to make a trip to Maine in order to work in my capacity as collections manager at the Maine Classic Car Museum in Arundel. If you have not had the opportunity to go and visit the museum, I hope that you will, as I can guarantee that no matter what types of cars you love, there will be something at the museum that catches your eye.
Speaking of catching my eye, the M240ix I received is painted in a color BMW calls Thundernight Metallic. In normal English means it’s purple, and not just any purple but one that reminds me a lot of the iconic E46 M3 color of Techno Violet. The color combined with the subtle 2022 redesign of the 2 Series coupe made a car I feel is a simply stunning and aggressive design. It has wide haunches, subtle box flares reminiscent of the E30 M3 and it all comes together in a car that looks to my eye to be a perfectly proportioned BMW coupe.
The interior features the best of BMW ergonomics in action; with supremely comfortable seats that offer enough adjustments to allow anyone to be completely comfortable, even my very particular spouse. The black leather is contrasted with blue stitching and an “M” logo along the seam, making the interior both look and feel very upscale. From the get-go I liked the M240ix but only time would tell if it turned into a love story or ended with us parting as just good friends. I figured by the end of the five-day trip to Maine I would have the answer.
I loaded up the car on Wednesday afternoon and headed down the road for the 3½ hour trip to Maine. The day before I spent a little time behind the wheel getting to know the car’s controls, adjusting the seat, setting up Bluetooth, and all the other things needed to make the car fit me. I have to say that when BMW first launched the I-Drive system I was not a fan due to the buried menus to accomplish the most common tasks. After years of development and improvement I-Drive has now grown into what I feel is probably the easiest to use and most intuitive control system for modern cars.
My daily driver X5 has the previous generation of I-Drive, which works just fine, but the newest reminds me of the difference between Windows 3.1 and Mac OS X. I was able to set all controls, pair my phone, set up memory settings, and even program my Sirius XM preset channels in less than 15 minutes. During that time, I was also able to adjust and customize all three driving modes. My personal X5 was not close to that easy and the system in the Mercedes GT53 AMG, which is my next review, was much more like using I-Drive 2.0 in comparison.
After entering my destination into the nav system by voice, and picking up the pair of large Diet Cokes from McDonalds that I require at the start of any long trip, I was on my way.
The controls in the M240ix is not only well laid out but done in such a logical way that I could intuitively find various buttons I was looking for without even knowing that they existed. The standard sport seats in the car are excellent, the pedals and shifter perfectly placed, the steering wheel, a thick rimmed and very pleasing M version with contrasting red and blue M stitching feels great. There is ample interior space of both head and leg room for any driver, regardless of their size.
There is a rear seat and it is much more comfortable than I would have guessed. While a person does not want to sit behind me, due to my 6’4” height, sitting behind a normal sized person is easily doable. It is also an ideal place to put extra luggage, though I seriously doubt you will need it due to the spacious trunk.
On the road manners are BMW perfection with great road feel and excellent stability even when faced with the sometimes-serious cross wind gusts that are a frequent occurrence during the Spring in Connecticut.
While on I-84 I experimented with the different drive modes offered, switching between Comfort, Sport, and Sport +, as well as the Eco Pro settings and started to experience the performance available from the M240ix. In Comfort mode this is a fast car, easily able to overtake any car that was in my way. In Sport and Sport + modes the car feels like it picks up 30% more power and the performance offered is as good or better than the M2 or even the M3.
Sure, the only gearbox offered is the 8-speed automatic, but this was by no means a handicap on the acceleration of the car. The shifter in these modes was instantaneous and the car pulled to redline with no flat spots whatsoever in the powerband.
After 15 or so miles of acceleration testing, I put the car in Eco Pro and set the adaptive cruise at 75 MPH to see what kind of mileage I could get. After the first 100 miles I averaged 34 mpg, a figure that I at first did not believe. So, at my first fuel stop I topped off the fuel tank, noting how much fuel I used and the mileage on the odometer. I headed back out for the final 95 miles of the trip to Maine again in Eco Pro and on adaptive cruise at 75 MPH. I took the exit to Arundel and went to the first gas station I saw. I topped off and the mileage displayed at 34 MPG again. The fact that this very fast 2 Series M coupe was able to deliver this kind of mileage took me by surprise.
On a side note, at each of the two stops I made for gas, a great number of people came over to talk to me about the car. They all loved the styling and color of the car. A lot of 20 somethings had questions about the BMW and I answered them all. I opened the hood and let them sit in the car. They came away envious given it to that I afforded the opportunity to drive it and wanted one themselves. It looks like BMW has a hit on their hands in the 20 something demographic.
I had driven 195 miles on the road over about fours hours and my impressions were that the M240ix is a great car and that I liked it.
I drove to my hotel, the Kennebunk Inn, and the parking attendant asked me to park in the front spot as he loved the car and though it looked great against the front of the inn. I was more than happy to do this as it meant that the car would be looked after over the evening and it would get some nice exposure to potential buyers.
The next day I woke up and grabbed breakfast. I took the long and twisty route to the Maine Classic Car Museum. I put it in Sport + mode and gave the car a pretty good workout on the deserted route that featured a lot of hairpin turns, changes in elevation and some nice straights. The M240ix took everything I threw at it in stride and was unbelievably fun to drive at the limit. Its steering feel is just about perfect, its brakes are incredibly strong and capable, and the power delivers was instantaneous and allowed the car to demonstrate some pretty serious performance limits. Pair that with a trademark BMW inline-6, properly aggressive exhaust note and the car proved to me to be not just a pretty face, but the whole package as a true M series sport coupe in the finest tradition of the BMW M brand.
Over the next few days I spent at the museum in my role as collection manager I took every opportunity to take the other staffers out in the car. Every single one of them came away completely impressed by the car both stylistically, and as a high-performance vehicle.
After five days in Maine I headed back home to Connecticut and during some of the 190-mile trip I tried some higher speed runs on the interstate. Again, this is a fast and capable sportscar that can be used on track as it can during daily commuting. In comfort mode the M240ix rides like a 7 Series and in sport mode it transforms into a full-bore M car. This is no easy feat and I have driven few cars at the price point of the M240ix that can make this transition as smoothly and as completely as I experienced with this car.
I got home and asked my wife, who had not yet ridden in or driven the car, if she wanted to go out and grab dinner. She thought that was a good idea and I gave her the keys to the M240ix. She adjusted the seat and steering wheel and spent a little more time adjusting the headrest and we headed out. She immediately liked the car, saying that it reminded her of everything she liked about her Saab 93, she collects Saab cars, but that it was as if everything had been updated. She especially liked the way the car handled, citing the steering as being perfect. I told her that the brakes were a big upgrade over her Saab or my own Z4, so she tried them out. Since she is extremely safety conscience, she liked how well the M brakes on the car stopped it and in how quickly and smoothly they operated.
After coming back from dinner, I had her drive us home in the car and she effused about how much she liked the seats and the instrument panel, as she could see everything quickly. I concurred as I also feel that the flat panel display in the car is among the best in any car on the market. The engineers at BMW have made a flat panel display so good that I consider it the measuring stick for all others.
The next day I drove the car to Caffeine and Carburetors in New Cannan and parked in the BMW corral next to a new M3. The owner of the M3 commented how he loved the M240ix and in no time we were surrounded by other BMW M owners with questions about the new model. I answered all of them, though the people there already knew quite a bit about it. They asked me how fast it was, and I gave them my experience. I also ended up putting most of them behind the wheel to see what it felt like.
The car was somehow among the biggest hits in the corral, and the corral had just about every version of an M car ever built. Many wondered if the paint color was Techno Violet, which I explained it was not, though everyone in attendance commented on great the color looked on the little coupe.
Monday came way too soon, and it was time to say goodbye to the fun purple BMW. I almost asked to extend the loan earlier in the week, but let it go due to the next car on my list incoming on the same day, and scheduling these cars is competitive and difficult for the people how manage press fleets. I was sad, but not that sad. I’ll explain in a bit.
So, what is the difference between a car I like and a car I fall in love with?
Well to start, the first necessary element for me to actually love a car is that it has to look great. It needs to be the kind of car that after I park it in the garage and start to walk away, I turn back and take another look, just enjoying the view. This is something that I found myself again and again while I had my time with the M240ix. I even caught my wife doing it after she drove it to dinner.
The next element is that for me the car needs to require no explanation to how and why it is great. This is a car that speaks for itself quite effectively and many people I ran across who saw it were not only attracted to it but wanted it.
The final, and possibly most important part for me is that the car has to move me when I am driving it. It needs to be the kind of car that is almost impossible to leave in the garage if it is capable of carrying what I need. Keep in mind that my household has 5 cars and 4 motorcycles in it so that is a tall order.
Over the time I had the car I drove nothing else. I did not drive the Z4, I did not ride any of the motorcycles, I only wanted more time behind the wheel. This car is engaging in all the best ways, offers great performance, and is also an easy car to use in day-to-day service. In the past a car with this kind of performance is usually something I save for special occasions. The effortlessness that the M240ix delivers that performance and then transitions back into an easy to commuter is like no other car I have driven with the exception of another BMW, the M5 Competition. I’m going to go out on a limb now and confess that since I am much more of a coupe than a sedan guy, the M240ix was a car that just suits me better, despite not being as fast.
One more interesting thing happened while I had the M240ix. On the Saturday after I returned home, my friend and fellow journalist Dan Neil wrote a review of the 230i coupe for his column in The Wall Street Journal. He stated that he felt that the faster and more expensive M240ix version was not worth the extra money spent for the performance offered over the base 2 Series coupe, which he called a bargain. While I completely agree that the 230i is a bargain, with a starting price of only $36,350, I think he is dead wrong about the M240ix. While the 230i with the standard engine is more than adequate and is a nice sporty coupe to drive but the level of performance and standard features offered in the M240ix version makes it well worth the extra money to me. The performance of the M240ix is simply in another category. BMW quotes 0-60 mph at 4 seconds, but I was easily able to see the magic 60 come up at 3.6 seconds. This is fast enough to be in strong competition with many higher dollar performance cars. So, if you are trying to choose between these two, my advice would be to spend the $48,550 base on a superior car in every way.
So back to my lack of sadness about the car leaving on that Monday. You see, after leaving Caffeine and Carburetors on Sunday I made a call to my friend Tom Plucinsky in BMW P.R. Since he was out of country, I left him a voicemail stating simply that I want to buy the purple press car. He called me back a day later and we made the deal. That should answer the question that began this review; did I like or love the M240ix? Since I have never in 22 years bought a press car, despite knowing that I could, my actions should tell you how I feel about this remarkable car.
Oh, and about that forgetting the last car I drove part? The press car I received afterwards was the simply amazing 2022 Rolls-Royce Ghost Black Badge, but I could not stop thinking about my purple 2 Series coupe.
2021 BMW M240i Xdrive Coupe
Vehicle type: 4-passenger 2 door coupe, all-wheel drive
Base price: $48,550 Price as tested: $59,645
Engine: turbocharged and intercooled DOHC 24-valve inline-6, 384 hp @ 6500 RPM
and 369 lb-ft of torque @ 1800 RPM
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Wheelbase: 107.9 inches Overall length/width: 179.4 inches / 72.4 inches
Curb weight: 3,877 pounds
EPA mileage estimates: 23 city/32 highway mpg, and 26 combined
Assembled in: Germany