A Back Road Romp in the 2023 BMW M240i Rewired My Brain
Over the weekend, I had the opportunity to road test the 2023 BMW M240i surrounding the IMSA race weekend at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut. For three days, I vacillated between watching race cars and road testing this punchy two-door luxury coupe on the many ribbons of back road surrounding the track. But one particular drive wasn’t just a standout – it completely rewired what I want in a modern sports car.
A speedy drive through northern Connecticut
On this particular day, I woke up to a rainy morning and threats of heavy thunderstorms. It seemed the perfect opportunity to take the Thundernight Metallic BMW M240i out for an adventure before the skies opened up. After all, lightning would end any on-track activity, and I did still have a job to do, after all.
If you’ve never been there, Lime Rock Park is situated in the northwestern corner of Connecticut. It’s a gorgeous set of scenery with one big problem. Everything is at least 45 minutes away. But, being one to make lemonade from a bag of slightly damp, rain-soaked lemons, I decided to head east toward Hartford. On the scenic route, of course.
A quick look at Google Maps told me that the Barkhamsted Reservoir was the place to go for a fun drive. The lake itself isn’t the draw here, but the twisting mountain road that surrounds it. So after a fairly mundane cruise on US-44, I took the road less traveled, CT-182, toward Colebrook.
A series of narrow, weather-worn roads tested the suspension of this sporty little coupe. I was pleasantly surprised at just how comfortable the M240i was on this uneven, sometimes craggy asphalt. Even in sport mode, it would handle bumps and dips decisively at modest speeds, upsetting neither the tires nor me in the driver’s seat.
Putting it in comfort mode did exactly what you’d expect. Softened things up even more. In an ironic twist, though, the softer damping of comfort mode actually made the car more predictable when cornering on such uneven asphalt. It was my first hint of just how well-considered this little sports coupe truly is.
Then there’s the transmission. The ZF eight-speed automatic transmission offers lightning-quick responses at the flick of a paddle. In a vacuum, it’s one of the best auto boxes around. But considering the engine and sport suspension underneath the M240i, there really should be a manual transmission option to round out this car’s sports car status.
Unleashing the B58 inline-six turbo
By now, the sun had come out, drying the damp asphalt and adding a new layer of confidence. Still, the 382 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque from the BMW Twinpower turbocharged B58 inline-six had just the rear wheels to go through, and I wasn’t about to find the absolute limit on an unfamiliar road.
But I wasn’t about to make this just a humdrum Sunday drive, either. With open roads ahead and virtually no traffic to be found, I headed north on CT 20, on the west side of the reservoir. It starts out as a gentle climb, with sweeping lefts and rights connecting to create a satisfying set of switchbacks.
It’s here where I started to learn just how much confidence the M240i would allow. Sitting on wide Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tires, the grip feels limitless. It changes direction with ease, though you are always somewhat aware of its 3,800-pound curb weight.
Still, for such a heavy machine, this metallic purple two-door BMW scythed through the fast sweepers with such balance and composure that it almost felt like a video game.
Toward the north end of the lake, things started to tighten up. As the road wraps around Falls Brook Trail, the asphalt takes on a washboard texture, no doubt due to years of frost heaves and groundwater. On pavement like this, the M240i really likes to be in its softer suspension setting. Sport mode makes the car feel unsettled, especially at traditional highway speeds and continuously uneven pavement. In comfort, however, it deals with the uneven texture rather well.
The BMW M240i is excellent but not perfect
At the crest of the hill, I stopped, if for no other reason than to let the cars I had caught get away. I wanted a clear road for the downhill section, after all. It’s at this point that one of the baby Bimmer’s biggest flaws came to the forefront.
As mentioned above, the M240i is a heavy car. But this particular version carries the M Sport brake package, that is, in a word, revelatory. To say it could stop on a dime is an understatement. Two adorable, if bumbling, raccoons, owe their lives to those beefy brakes. But on the imperfect pavement of a mountain road, they might actually be too good.
Descending the hill, a sharp left required a good amount of brake input. Far from track-day type performance braking, but sharper than you’d do on your drive to work on Tuesday morning. The combination of the M240i’s weight and the high-performance brakes quickly overwhelmed the tires, leading to a brief moment of lockup. Rather than stay on the brakes and let ABS sort it out, I lifted, downshifted twice, and let the car roll through the corner instead.
Then, the in-corner balance of the M240i truly shined through, holding beautifully through the curve even after the unsettled moment under brakes. By the time I unleashed the torrent of turbocharged torque on the corner exit, I had all but forgotten about the brief blink of terror from a few seconds earlier.
The BMW M240i smashed my skepticism
Before getting into the M240i for this mountain drive, I wasn’t sure if it had what it took to be a true sports car. By that point, I’d driven it for a day and a half and found it to be a competent GT car, but it wasn’t ringing any significant bells, either positive or negative.
However, this singular mountain romp completely changed my opinion. What’s more, it changed what I expect from a modern performance car.
It’s easy to look back a few years and wax poetic about the simplicity of the old days. Things were raw, rowdy, and a little raucous.
In the M240i, I found something different but equally compelling. A luxurious cruiser that could transform into an asphalt-shredding monster in an instant. It’s not autocross light, but it doesn’t lumber around on its wheels, either. There’s luxury, but it’s not soft. It’s sharp but not violent. In short, it’s a sports car that just plain works.
Equal parts fast, sharp, comfortable, and composed, it is somehow ready for almost everything in a way that will make 95% of drivers happy. And for you other 5%? Find that E46 M3 on Bring-a-Trailer and call it a day.
Is the BMW M240i a good car for mountain roads?
Less jarring than a Golf R and more fun (thanks to rear-wheel drive) than a Civic Type R, the BMW M240i sits in an excellent window for drivers that want a comfortable daily driver that can handle some serious fun on your favorite twisty back roads.
The only real, enduring problem is the price tag. As tested, this BMW M240i clocks in at just under $60,000. But the luxury it affords, combined with that impressively satisfying turbocharged inline-six, make it worth the extra scratch if you’ve got it.