2017 BMW M2 Chris Walton
“With a base price $8K below that of an M2, the M240i is close to its equal in performance. The burly M2 is still more handsome.”
We love our M2, love its size, love its blistered fenders, and really love its snarling 365-hp 3.0-liter N55 twin-scroll turbo-six. What might be hard to love is its $57,795 as-tested price. Recently, we reviewed a $48,070 (as tested) 248-hp turbo-four 2017 BMW 230i and came away delighted and mightily impressed, but we still felt like Goldilocks in search of juuust right. In an effort to complete our BMW 2 Series sample platter, we got ahold of a 2017 BMW M240i ($52,875 as tested). As its name suggests, it might be a stealthy M Division car in a plain 2 Series wrapper. It’s powered by the new B58 3.0-liter single-turbo straight-six, and we believe it might be a little underrated at 335 hp.
At the dragstrip, we expected the M2 to leave the M240i flat-footed at the line and never look back. Our M2 has a seven-speed twin-clutch automatic with launch control and 265-width rear tires to use it: 0–60 in 4.1 seconds. By contrast, the M240i came with the standard six-speed manual and 245-width tires. Although the M2’s N55 and the M240i’s B58 engines’ horsepower vary by 30 (advantage M2), their torque ratings are identical at 369 lb-ft (at 1,450 rpm in the M2 and at 1,520 rpm in the M240i). They left the line at virtually the same rate. As the M2 began to pull ahead, it shifted 1–2 near 30 mph. The M240i’s taller gears mean it doesn’t need to shift until closer to 40, so it gained back a little and reached 60 in 4.3 seconds. And so it goes; with the M2 carrying a narrow lead until … what’s this? The M240i catches the M2 at about 70 mph, and they both cross the quarter-mile finish line in 12.9 seconds (M2 at 106.2 mph, M240i at 110.5 mph). How? Horsepower should rule, right? After a 10-email volley with technical director Frank Markus, we put it down to aerodynamics. See, the M2 has greater frontal area (2.21 square meters) and higher drag coefficient (0.35) resulting in 0.75 drag area, or “air resistance.” For the M240i, BMW shows 2.14 square meters frontal area x 0.33 Cd = 0.71 drag area. Is that it, or is the M240i the budget M car its badge declares? We say the latter.