Remember how great Pixar was in your youth? What about how much cooler BMWs seemed when you were younger?

Rather like Pixar, BMW has produced some beloved, instantly recognizable icons. And again like Pixar, it hasn’t always managed to convince the fans who grew up with those greats that their successors can fill those shoes.

After arguably peaking in the early-oughts, the subsequent premium-adjacent modern generations of the brand lost their enthusiast tune. There was plenty of fun to be had of course — particularly in the 1- and later 2-Series — and the Ms have remained enjoyable by virtue of well-engineered power. But ‘Ultimate Driving Machine’? Sure, Jan.

Today however, BMW is back with a good one. More than that, this G42 BMW M240i may just be the last and closest we ever get to the halcyon days of the E46.

car review: 2022 bmw m240i xdrive

2022 BMW M240i xDrive Photo by Evan Buhler

car review: 2022 bmw m240i xdrive

2022 BMW M240i xDrive Photo by Evan Buhler

car review: 2022 bmw m240i xdrive

2022 BMW M240i xDrive Photo by Evan Buhler

car review: 2022 bmw m240i xdrive

2022 BMW M240i xDrive Photo by Evan Buhler

car review: 2022 bmw m240i xdrive

2022 BMW M240i xDrive Photo by Evan Buhler

car review: 2022 bmw m240i xdrive

2022 BMW M240i xDrive Photo by Evan Buhler

car review: 2022 bmw m240i xdrive

2022 BMW M240i xDrive Photo by Evan Buhler

car review: 2022 bmw m240i xdrive

2022 BMW M240i xDrive Photo by Evan Buhler

car review: 2022 bmw m240i xdrive

2022 BMW M240i xDrive Photo by Evan Buhler

car review: 2022 bmw m240i xdrive

2022 BMW M240i xDrive Photo by Evan Buhler

car review: 2022 bmw m240i xdrive

2022 BMW M240i xDrive Photo by Evan Buhler

car review: 2022 bmw m240i xdrive

2022 BMW M240i xDrive Photo by Evan Buhler

car review: 2022 bmw m240i xdrive

2022 BMW M240i xDrive Photo by Evan Buhler

car review: 2022 bmw m240i xdrive

2022 BMW M240i xDrive Apple CarPlay Photo by Evan Buhler

The 2022 M240i enters the market headlining BMWs all-new G-platform 2-Series lineup. Equipping a turbocharged 3-litre straight-six, the diet M turns 382 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. All-wheel drive and the familiar ZF 8-speed automatic transmission make efficient use of the power, getting you to 100 in 4.1 seconds and on the way to a top speed of 250 km/h.

Despite the small number on the back, the new 2-Series isn’t a budget model.

Parked beside the previous-generation 2-Series, the new model drops 2.5 millimetres, broadens by 66, and gains 88 mm in length. Crucially, the G42’s wheelbase keeps to just 16 mm more than the E46 coupe’s. At 13.2 centimetres shorter than the M440i, this renders a tighter turning circle and a more lively character when swayed through chicanes. There is a mild front bias to its weight distribution, but the M240i’s rear-biased AWD keeps the drive dynamic and satisfying.

The new design remains contentious, but satisfies in person. More importantly, we appreciate BMW’s relative restraint in the new design following the shock-and-maw of the recent beaver-toothed G80 3- and 4-Series. Importantly, the model is available in this excellent purple metallic, which buyers should absolutely option.

The new 2’s standout feature is the quality of its ride. Driven patiently in its normal or eco drive modes, the M240i can run almost EV-quiet until a driver plants their foot. Further insulating passengers from the bumps and shakes of tired asphalt is its active suspension, by which travel stages between twisties pass with unexpected grace. Contrasted with a vehicle like the new M4, the M240i is a plenty-satisfying sportster that won’t shake a car-disinterested partner into misery, and indeed, that they may well praise for its civility.

With that premium experience comes a price, however. And crucially, that price puts it in direct competition with the 4-Series coupe.

From a base MSRP just shy of $57,000, desirable options quickly push the invoice well on up. A package with full LED lights, HUD, premium audio, glass sunroof, and comfort access ups the price by $5k. Add $350 for wireless charging with extended Bluetooth for wireless CarPlay, $850 for (excellent) adaptive M Suspension, and a few others, and a car like you see here rings up near a stiff $68,600 — plus a ridiculous $2,480 for destination. I’ve bought entire cars for that amount.

car review: 2022 bmw m240i xdrive

Still, there’s more to the M240i value proposition than just the on-paper specs, and it all comes back to the E46.

The E46-series 3s of 1998-2005 were a big deal for BMW, acquiring a cult following for excellent chassis dynamics and ample power. The E90-series diluted that somewhat, muscling up and softening in equal measure. The 2012 F30-series models took a larger step, loading up on tech and, crucially, changing from hydraulic power steering to electric. Yeugh.

The M240i isn’t an E46 — in every way but dimensionally, it’s far from it. But as modern cars go, it has finally tapped into a little of that energy. Picking up from that old experience, the drive is properly balanced between friendly and eager. The G42 delivers when called upon, but never pesters you to wring more than you’re in the mood for. Feed it some maintenance throttle through a tightening kink, however, and the manageable rear bias evokes that same old excitable controllability. Though the M240i bears that same unfortunately detached electric steering, it remains an appropriately lively experience.

car review: 2022 bmw m240i xdrive

Surveying from the driver’s seat, the G42’s cabin makes some steps forward while retaining just the right amount of traditional BMW soullessness. Contrasted with the try-hard path the company has taken with some other interiors, this is a good thing: shapes and control configurations are logical, and excepting that garishly distorted M-pattern door inlay, without overwrought material contrasts. The trapezoidal digital dash’s refusal to offer a round-gauged option is unfortunate, but we can’t have everything.

Broadly then, we have a modest cabin and a stimulating ride. Crucially, we also have the right balance, the right proportions, and with time, I believe we’ll come around to see the right looks. Rounding this off, the M240i’s exceptional comfort and touring merit make it at once a more engaging drive than a 4-Series, and a more agreeable one than its platform-relative Toyota Supra.

Moan as I might, electric — indeed, any — power steering is here to stay for BMW and the industry at large. Finally, however, BMW has delivered a model compelling enough that this servo-powered sin might be overlooked.

car review: 2022 bmw m240i xdrive

BMW hasn’t hit on quite the same heartstrings as the E46’s Monsters Inc., but it shows some strong echoes. And like Pixar, revisiting those classics as an adult lends itself well to enjoyment with a partner.

A rewarding drive for the enthusiast and a comfortable ride for their passenger, the G42 makes good on BMW’s sporting pedigree. For lovers of the road, this versatile coupe answers more applications than I had personally anticipated, and I’m very excited to see it launch.

Steep pricing for a desirable spec makes this a tricky proposition, and especially with a sticker so close to the 4-Series coupe, you’re buying on preference rather than value. I really hope I’m wrong, but I suspect this will sell better on the secondhand enthusiast market than on the showroom floor.

Still, if you can make it work, the smiles should pay this one off in no time.

Keyword: Car Review: 2022 BMW M240i xDrive

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