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The M240i Ends BMW’s Modern Era with Thunder

I feel like when a car’s paint color is called Thundernight Metallic, and it’s a $550 option, the car wearing it better be impressive. You may imagine that color to be some mysterious murky gray, but it’s actually eggplant purple. With sparkle. Fortunately, the 2022 BMW M240i has the performance, style, and luxury to back up its flashy sheetmetal. As BMW marks the end of a long era, let’s go for a drive!

The 2002 began BMW’s modern era – a simple, yet practical, driver-focused car that would define the brand for the ensuing five decades. But, this is an era coming to an end as a new generation of electric Bimmers take the streets. In fact, the latest 2-series is expected to be the last pure gas-powered model to be introduced by the automaker. And if that’s true, I’m glad I was able to drive the 2022 M240i X-Drive.

It wears its plum paint well on a longer body that is more elegant in the vein of today’s 8-Series. Unlike the towering snouts planted on 3- and 4-Series models, the M240i still has snarling wide nostrils over aggressive lower bumpers and fronting muscular fenders housing 19” wheels. An aero kit, rear spoiler, and black trim accessorize the wardrobe. Light comes from LEDs all around. Look close and you’ll notice blue M brake calipers. It’s a beautiful car that should appeal to BMW aficionados in particular and German car fans in general.

I could stare at the exterior for an hour, but I’d like to get inside where I can wrap myself in heated bucket seats, grip a thick heated leather-wrapped steering wheel, and crank up the Harman Kardon audio system. The 2 still has BMW’s decrepit iDrive infotainment system, but this version pairs with an actual touchscreen. Devices connect easily via Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, wireless charging, and a Wi-Fi hotspot. Safety’s enhanced by a head-up display, lane keep assist, and adaptive cruise.

In the old days, putting “240” in the model would indicate a 2-Series with a 4.0-liter engine, but BMW has recently taken a more liberal interpretation of displacement. Think of the turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six as producing power on-par with a larger powerplant, which it does, dishing out a robust 382 horsepower and 367 lb.-ft. of torque – sent to the all-wheel-drive system through an eight-speed automatic transmission. By comparison, a 1987 M3 had about 200 horsepower and had no chance of delivering the M240i’s 23/32-MPG city/highway.

Re-establishing this BMW as The Ultimate Driving Machine goes deeper than a powerful powertrain. There’s a finesses that was lacking in the old days. Corner control allows the AWD system to rotate the car through corners while Launch Control helps get off the line cleanly. The adaptive suspension, steering, and throttle response can be configured for Eco (less sensitive to save fuel), Comfort (wafts down the highway), Sport (tightens it all up), or Sport+ (track only). Configure and drive as you please.

It’s entirely possible BMW will never introduce another car like the M240i. And, while I’ll shed a couple of tears, I know the next generation of Bavarian sport coupes will possess power and persuasion far beyond what’s come before. I’ll just miss this one, and if you will too, buy one now. A base M240 starts at $48,550, but came to $56,845 fully stoked. Competitors include the Cadillac CT4-V, Mercedes-AMG CLA, Audi S3, and Genesis G70 3.3T.

Storm Forward!– Send comments to Casey at AutoCasey@aol.com

2022 BMW M240i X-Drive

Four-passenger, AWD Coupe

Powertrain: 3.0-liter T-I6, 8-spd

Output: 382hp/369 lb.-ft. torque

Suspension f/r: Adap Ind/Ind

Wheels f/r: 19”/19” alloy

Brakes f/r: disc/disc

Must-have features: Style, Engine

Fuel economy: 23/32 mpg city/hwy

Assembly: San Luis Potosi, Mexico

Base/As-tested price: $48,550/$56,845