BMW M140i and M240i Coupe and Convertible road test review
THESE look sporty little numbers, what've we got?
They are BMW's 1 Series hatchback and its 2 Series coupe and convertibles. They've just been given a nice little shot in the arm with fresh equipment and engines, headlined by rapid M140i and M240i variants that score a big boost in spec over the outgoing M135i and M235i cars.
What's the "40i" bit mean? Four-litre engines?
Can't trust those numbers on the back of BMWs anymore I'm afraid. These cars come with 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbo engines good for 250kW and a thumping 500Nm of torque. Don't get me explaining BMW's current badging, the confusion will hurt your head.
Alright, so what's new here?
The 1 and 2 Series range had a decent refresh last year, and now they're getting more powerful engines, better economy and new kit like enhanced navigation, improved toucshcreen display and the first ever wireless Apple CarPlay as an option (for $479).
Depending on your 1 or 2 Series model choice there's also goodies like M Sport packages, electric seats and Driving Assistant included.
Do prices stay the same then? Most are up a few grand to reflect the additional kit, but the entry-level 118i and best-selling 125i stay at $36,900 and $48,900 respectively. Cheapest Coupe, the 220i, is up $2000 to $51,300 and 220i convertible also up $2k now to $58,300, all before on-roads.
What about the rapid 40i models, we had a lot of love for the old 35i cars...
These things are pretty loaded actually. The M140i hatch is $2k more than the old M135i but now also adds a harman/kardon sound system and electric heated seats for your $64,900. The M240i Coupe and Convertible enjoy the same new spec and more, but are down $2300 to $74,990 and $83,900 respectively over before.
Hmmm, gets expensive then.
Creeps up, doesn't it? That M140i certainly gives stonking performance for the money, but you coupe and convertible shoppers do have to dig pretty deep.
Are these cars worthy of their "M" badges?
These are M Performance cars rather than the more raw "real" M models. Let's take the M240i versus the stonking M2 Pure car. The latter can be had for sub-$90k, so around $15k more than the M240i. I've taken both these cars on the race track and the M2 is certainly the one you need here.
The M240i is phenomenally fast in a straight line thanks to its low-down wall of torque, it's predictable in the corners and beautifully balanced. But the M2 has the beefier brakes you need for track use (the M240i's anchors faded pretty fast), grippier tyres and slightly quicker responses, and in my mind the M2 is the best value performance car on our market right now.
Most people probably couldn't live with an M2 every day though, even though I personally could tolerate it. But the M140i and M240i cars make fine daily drivers with their more compliant ride. Very, very fast daily drivers at that.
While we're comparing notes, what other rivals do the M140i and M240i's have?
From BMW's own range you could get the larger 430i Coupe ($79,990) - which is still a rapid style statement despite using just four-cylinders - instead of the M240i Coupe. Or how about an Audi TT quattro Sport in Coupe ($79,400) or Roadster ($82,950) guise?
Check out the Audi S3 Sportback ($61,100) or Mercedes-Benz A250 Sport ($53,500) as slightly slower alternatives to the M140i.
How'd the 40i cars do on the roads?
Reassuringly brilliant, as expected. Even over our sodden test roads the baby Beemers always maintained their poise while delivering excellent driver engagement, especially with the manual version.
Bump absorbsion was hard to fault on the rough stuff, while flick it into Sport mode and these are simply very easy cars to drive quickly, and always with a grin on your face. The sound's pretty fruity too.
And a luxurious cabin to operate in?
The 40i cars are dripping in Dakota leather, but remember these are still baby BMWs and not a 5 Series so rear space isn't cavernous. Cabin layout is simple and build quality superb, while there's an excellent new panoramic touchscreen and improved, more intuitive iDrive system.
There are so many features to explore however you'll be navigating menus for hours until you get used to them. My only real grumble was the base of the doors are a bit too plasticky at this price point, even if they do hold plenty.
Pretty talented all rounders then?
Undoubtedly. Not cheap, but these M140i and M240i's are genuine performance weapons with oodles of quality kit. And as brilliant as the growling M2 is, these are your ideal small BMW heroes you can drive every day.
Models: BMW M140i, M240i Coupe and M240i Convertible.
Details: Five-door hatch or two-door coupe or convertible rear-wheel drive premium small performance cars.
Engine: 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbocharged petrol generating maximum power of 250kW @ 5500rpm and peak torque of 500Nm @ 1520rpm.
Transmission: 8-speed sport automatic with paddle shifters (6-speed manual gearbox a no cost option).
Consumption: 7.1L/100km (auto) or 7.8L/100km (manual) on M140i and M240i Coupe; 7.4L/100km (auto) or 7.8L/100km (manual) on M240i Convertible.
Performance 0-100kmh: 4.6 seconds (auto) or 4.8 seconds (manual) on M140i and M240i Coupe; 4.7 seconds (auto) or 4.8 seconds (manual) on M240i Convertible.
Bottom line plus on-roads: $64,900 (M140i); $74,900 (M240i Coupe); $83,900 (M240i Convertible).
What matters most
What we liked: Incredible straight line speed, silky engine, high specification, you can get a manual.
What we'd like to see: Less plasticky lower doors, Convertible price drop.
Warranty and servicing: Three-year unlimited kilometre warranty. Servicing is conditioned based. One-off advance payment BMW Service Inclusive packs available.