God save us from grumpy old men.
Whatever their age and gender.
Every time I start to wonder what it would be like to be one of the most-read automotive writers on the web, I look at the comments on high-traffic sites and I immediately am at peace with being under the radar. You know the ones I'm talking about---the ones who say nothing is as good as it was before. That journalists' praise for BMWs must mean they're on the payroll because Bimmers have gotten fat and lazy (I'm sensing some projection on the part of the commenters, tbh).
Look, I will confess to having limited classic BMW experience. My first time at the wheel was in a 1972 2002 tii that belonged to the older brother of a friend. The car was a year old, I was 17 and I was astonished that anything could be that well-built, handle that well or move like that with just 140 horsepower from a two-liter four. Had I not spent the next few years as an underpaid radio disc jockey, I'd have bought one.
My second time was near the end of that career, when a Saturday remote ("live radio broadcasts! balloons and hot dogs for the kids!") found me at the BMW dealer in Reno, who thought a great way for me to spend the 40 minutes between live two-minute hits for two hours was to actually drive the 1981 BMW lineup one at a time in ascending order---3-Series, 5-Series, 6-Series coupe and 7-series---on a back road not far from the dealership, and then talk about them on the air. I struggled to find words. They were phenomenal.
It wasn't until 1997, when I started writing about cars for (part of) a living, that I started driving BMWs again. In the last 25 years, have any of them been as pure as that first 2002 tii? No. Are they still damn good? Yes. Especially the new 2-Series.
There are four ways you can get a 2-Series. 230i Coupe (two doors), 230i GranCoupe (four doors), M240i xDrive Coupe (two doors, hotter engine, all-wheel drive) and M240i Drive GranCoupe (four doors, hotter engine, all-wheel drive).
Our tester was the M240i xDrive Coupe. Under the hood, a 3.0-liter inline 6-cylinder engineered by BMW M Performance. 382 horsepower, zero to 60 in 4.1seconds and an EPA fuel economy estimate of 23 mpg city/32 highway. A point I'll concede---the curb weight is 3,871 pounds. That's 200 more than a 1970 Chevrolet Impala. But BMW has managed to arrange the poundage to achieve a 50/50 weight distribution, so the end result is a quick, great-handling small sport coupe with more than enough power to offset the weight.
It is, really, the car to get if you want a modern-day equivalent of a vintage M3 coupe.
I'm not sure anyone gets leather upholstery and contrasting colors for interiors right now the way BMW does. The seats are gorgeous and feel fantastic. I still haven't warmed up to the angular shapes for the instrument panel and the gauges. I'd love a return to the old-school, big, round BMW gauges and knobs, even in digital form. But the cure for that is to push the "START" button and drive. It's only a few seconds before I'm over aesthetics and into dynamics.
The base price of the 2022 BMW M240i xDrive Coupe is $48,550. There's a lot of standard equipment at that price, including 19-inch wheels, an eight-speed Sport automatic transmission, active blind spot detection and lane departure warning, multi-zone climate control and a power moonroof.
Regular readers know that this is usually the point, especially with premium European cars, where a lengthy list of very expensive options arrives. But the M240i xDrive carried with it only $7,750 in extra-cost options. The Mineral White Metallic paint was $550, the Tacoma Red Veronica Leather interior $1,450, the Driving Assistance Package (active cruise control, parking assistant plus, drive recorder, active park distanced control and a surround view 3D camera) was also $1,450.
Add to that $400 for the Shadowline Package (M Shadowline lights and extended Shadowline trim), $2,750 for the Premium Package (heated steering wheel, heated front seats, adaptive full LED lights, a head-up display and Live Cockpit Pro including navigation), $200 for illuminated M trim, $350 for lumbar support and $875 for a Harman Pardon surround sound system. With $100 taken off the tab for "passenger width delete" and another $175 off for "passenger lumbar delete" and $995 added for destination, the as-tested price of the 2022 BMW M240i xDrive Coupe is $57,295.
Cheap? No. But just about right for the performance and feature content provided.
Zwei is das Neue Drei.