London: Most buyers considering purchasing a BMW M240i are probably asking themselves two questions.
Can I afford a BMW M2 and how different is it?
I doubt many of them are thinking of getting a 230i with its four-cylinder 2 litre engine and then speccing up a level.
The M2 is one of BMW’s halo cars that has garnered universal praise since its launch in 2016.
But take a close look at the 240i and some of the M2 daydreaming begins to wane.
Sure the ‘lesser’ model is at most half a second short in the sprint to 60mph. But in the real world the difference will be negligible. A lot will come down to which gearbox they have.
Drag race a manual gearbox M2 against an auto 240i and there is just a tenth of a second between them, with 4.5 and 4.6 seconds respectively.
A look under the bonnet reveals why the stats are so similar, as the 240i packs the same 3.0 litre straight six-cylinder petrol engine.
In a different state of tune it puts out 335 bhp (30bhp down on the M2) but that is a heck of a lot of power for a small two-door rear wheel drive coupe.
The engine has twin scroll turbochargers to boost torque to 369 lb ft, the same as M2.
The bigger brother also tips the scale at another 100 kg heavier 1470 kg, offsetting the power hike.
Some refer to the 240i as a warm hatch, rather than hot. Maybe they are taking account of global warming but it would leave most traditional rivals such as the Golf Gti , Seat Leon Cupra or Peugeot 308 Gti , standing.
The 240i gives a softer and more relaxed ride than its Motorsport sibling, but it can certainly shift. Top speed is 150mph.
With a short wheel base it will certainly wiggle around with a generous dab of the throttle.
But the phrase ‘pocket rocket’ could have been invented for the 240i. With is small dimensions it will keep honest almost any other car on a city or country road.
The super-smooth 8 speed gearbox works brilliantly with the wave of torque from the engine. It is just one of those cars that is effortless to drive as you can pick which gaps in traffic you need to get into.
To differentiate it from the lesser models it forgoes the front fog lights for a more aggressive bumper. The door cap mirrors are grey and the twin exhaust pipes are smoked chrome.
It rides 1cm lower than standard on passive M sport suspension. Adaptive suspension with variable dampers are an £515 option. As is a rear limited slip differential.
The 18 inch alloy wheels, aerodynamic body kits, sports steering rack and rear spoiler are all standard.
Practicality wise adults will fit in the back even with taller front passengers in situ.
Boot space is 390 litres and the rear seats split and fold for added practicality.
The LED £790 headlights are a definite bonus casting a bright and wide spectrum of light to boost confidence when driving at night
The cabin has the the updated iDrive infotainment system with a 6.5 inch screen, incorporating sat nav,Bluetooth, USB and DAB to take care of your audi needs. Keen on your music? Then the £600 optional Harman Kardon is money worth spending.
It also comes with automatic lights, wiper and parking sensors. But electric and heated seats and parking camera are extra.
While the classic BMW large pair of dials in the binnacle show the speed and revs, some owners may miss a digital readout.
Trying to stay within 1 mph of the speed limit by looking at the needle is nigh on impossible.
The car can also be linked to your phone via the ConnectedDrive app. This give the functionality to set times to pre-warm the car, check fuel levels, check if it’s locked and where you parked it.
If you have set your heart on an M2 but are considering the 240i it won’t be hard to be up-sold in the showroom.
You will be able to justify to yourself that it is worth the extra initial £10,000 plus additional running and insurance costs.
Marketing for performance cars is based heavily on desire – way above any practical and tangible benefits.
But stop, take a deep breath, and also ask for a test drive of the 240i and you may surprise yourself.
BMW M240i Coupe Automatic
Price new: £34,835
Engine: 3.0-litre 6cyl turbo
0-60 mph: 4.6 seconds