BMW M240i

Se­lect­ing Sport+ mode has trans­formed the daily drive

Evo - - FAST FLEET - As­ton Par­rott (@As­ton­par­rott)

I’VE RE­CENTLY BEEN PON­DER­ING the pros and cons of the high level of con­fig­ura­bil­ity of­fered by many modern per­for­mance cars – adap­tive dampers, dif­fer­ent en­gine maps, etc – and it got me think­ing about how I use the BMW and its mul­ti­tude of set­tings. I can’t ar­gue with the ben­e­fits of be­ing able to tease out bet­ter mpg or se­lect a more re­lax­ing ride for longer dis­tances, but can such flex­i­bil­ity de­tract from a car’s abil­i­ties rather than en­hance them?

In older per­for­mance cars you can’t sim­ply change their dy­nam­ics to suit your sit­u­a­tion. You have no choice but to ex­pe­ri­ence them pure and un­fil­tered every time you drive them, and I feel that this keeps you more alert and in­volved in every jour­ney – even a sim­ple daily com­mute. Yet when you have op­tions, I find it’s all too easy to be­come a lazy driver. This was the case on my drive home one evening not long ago, where I switched the M240 to Com­fort mode and the gear­box to auto to make the jour­ney as ef­fort­less as pos­si­ble.

Not so bad as an oc­ca­sional thing, I sup­pose, but I ac­tu­ally kept these set­tings se­lected for the fol­low­ing cou­ple of days. Then, per­haps in­evitably, I even­tu­ally found my­self a lit­tle un­der­whelmed by this 335bhp coupe. So us­ing my old-car the­ory, I de­cided to put the BMW into its sporti­est set­tings – se­lect­ing Sport+ for the driv­ing mode, which also re­laxes the trac­tion con­trol, and putting the gear­box into full man­ual mode – to see if this could make any change to my mood.

Upon com­plet­ing my usual 75-minute com­mute to the of­fice the next morn­ing, I had a smile on my face. It was 6deg C and had been rain­ing, so you can imag­ine how lively the BMW was on the more in­ter­est­ing sec­tions of my route in – all the bet­ter for keep­ing me en­gaged in pro­ceed­ings. Also, when you only shift man­u­ally, the en­gine flirts with you, us­ing its noise to keep you on the throt­tle all the way to 7000rpm.

The shifts them­selves are ridicu­lously harsh: the thump of torque as the new gear hits home causes the rear wheels to spin briefly on damp roads, bring­ing a slight slip an­gle even when you’re driv­ing in a straight line. But be­cause you know it’s go­ing to hap­pen, you can start to have fun with it.

Se­cond gear, 6300rpm, blip­ping up to third while ex­it­ing a tight cor­ner, feel­ing the back step out and then pow­er­ing all the way through the gear is pretty ex­cit­ing. I like the way you can do this at rel­a­tively low speeds, too. Wet roads help, but torque is the main cause, al­low­ing the driver to en­joy rear-wheel drive even if they’re new to this lay­out.

It cer­tainly stops you from zon­ing out. My plan now is to keep the BMW in Sport+ for as long as pos­si­ble. Let’s see what hap­pens.

‘It al­lows the driver to en­joy rear-wheel drive even if they’re new to this lay­out’

Above: tak­ing full man­ual con­trol of gearshifts with the pad­dles brings plenty of re­ward

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