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2023 BMW M240i Review
A Thundernight to Remember
BOSTON — Though it is anathema to a car journalist, I'm not the biggest fan of sports cars. I appreciate a good rip around the track, but they're inherently compromised on the street. Stiff suspension, precise steering, and twitchy engines may be great on the racetrack, but they're often a recipe for discomfort in daily driving.
At least, that's how it usually works. The wizards at BMW, home to the self-described Ultimate Driving Machine, have somehow smashed physics into submission when it comes to the new 2023 BMW M240i. My test car came in a glorious purple named Thundernight — one of the best colors I've ever seen on a new car — even better, the smile the paint put on my face was quickly broadened by a truly wondrous driving experience.
Fitted with BMW's buttery smooth 3.0-liter turbo inline 6-cylinder and a quick-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission, the M240i rockets from 0-60 in some 3.6 seconds without much fuss. Boasting 382 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, this purple rocket not only looks good but seriously performs, putting its kinda-sister car, the Toyota Supra, on notice along with the Nissan Z and Ford Mustang and everything else in the fast-shrinking sports coupe category. Technically, the M240i is a four-seater, but I wouldn't want to put anyone in the back seats.
My review unit was decked out with 50th-anniversary M division emblems and illuminated M cabin trim, making it a BMW aficionado's dream, with BMW's signature M colors adorning seemingly every surface, and even the ambient light panels on the doors blazing with a splash of the M red/blue/blue.
Like other recent BMWs I've driven, including the X1 crossover and the iX electric SUV, the dash is dominated by a pair of screens, one for the instrument cluster and a touchscreen for the infotainment. With wireless Apple CarPlay and even Apple Maps support in the dash cluster (which almost no other carmaker supports), the tech experience is terrific. BMW's smartphone app also stands out as one of the more user-friendly options available.
But the tech is almost an afterthought compared to the amazing driving experience. With Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires (the same I use on my personal Volvo V60 wagon), the M240i can hold speed on curvy roads so effortlessly that it's alarmingly easy to become complacent and cruise well over the speed limit without any fuss.
The exhaust note is interesting. Inside the car, it's not the best noise, if I'm honest. But BMW has a solution to that, too. The IconicSounds feature seamlessly and nearly imperceptibly pipes in a bit of exhaust throb through the stereo. It varies with intensity depending on the drive mode and can be turned off with an easily accessible toggle in the menus. I tested it for a few days with and without, and I preferred the "enhanced" sound, which surprised me. Purists will lament the artificial engine noise, but it added just enough burble — tied to throttle input, speed, and engine RPM — to make me forget that it wasn't real.
The BMW M240i fulfills the ideal of the 90's era M3, the high school dream car of many a '90s kid. The road feel is terrific, with the adjustable electronic power steering offers comfort and sport options, and compared to the Mustang Dark Horse in particular, the 8-speed automatic is miles beyond what the Ford offers.
As built, the price came to a somewhat reasonable $58,420, which is around where the Ford Mustang Dark Horse starts, and I'd be hard-pressed to pick one. Those two cars make for a fascinating comparison. Do you want an American muscle car or a German sports coupe? Does your heart race at the thought of a big V8, or does a loaded-with-tech turbocharged inline-6 get you going? There's no wrong answer.
What's clear is this: it only took a single Thundernight for the M240i to completely win me over.
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