Boisterous Beemer defies disbelief
Article: Charlen Raymond. Photos: Warren Wilson
Most of us, when growing up, always said that one day, when we’re big and have lots of money, we’re gonna buy ourselves a BMW. Because why not? I mean, Beemers are known to be fast and dynamic, without sacrificing good looks and sex-appeal. And the one BMW that will always pop up as the default option, is the M3. The venerable BMW M3, nowadays mentioned in tandem with the M4. Sadly, with pricing starting at over a million, it is way out of the league for most people. Including this scribe! The good news, however, is that BMW does have something a little more affordable to offer; something that still has blistering performance and smile-evoking characteristics. Drum roll, please, for the BMW M240i M Performance!
The M240i M Performance uses the same 3.0-litre six-cylinder as the standard M240i and continues to develop 250kW and 500Nm. So what makes this car so special? Well, for starters, not much. On the face of it seems that BMW only added M Performance parts to the package. This includes a red lip on the front bumper, carbon fibre side mirrors and subtle rear wing, and then red side skirts with ‘M Performance’ written on it. Inside it’s pretty-standard BMW, with nothing screaming “Performance car!” at the driver. I guess you can say that you’re paying in excess of R700 000 for nothing. But, boy, would that be a mistake!
Start the car and the engine fires up with a burble. A deep grunt so intoxicating it will leave you going blûh-blûh-blûh with the engine as it warms up on a cold morning. And that’s the best time to actually drive this car, because then the roads are quiet, the fresh scent of morning breezing through the open car windows and “Morning has broken” playing harmoniously over the audio system. When the vehicle’s fluids and engine have reached optimum temperatures, that’s when it’s time to unleash what is hiding underneath the menacing brute looks. Switched into Sport mode, the engine will forego some of its limitations, throttle input will become more sensitive and steering feel as direct as a Mohammad Ali punch!
Now the car is alive, now it wants to be driven! Flick the gearbox into manual mode and barge through the rev range, change gears at seven thousand revolutions! A burble screams through the entire car as the next gear is hooked and the M240i MP lunges forward towards the next gear-change! It keeps going, it keeps climbing, it keeps racing towards the top-end of the speedometer. Gear change, burble, lunge forward! Keep going, Beemer, keep going! Don’t stop now! Brake! No more road.
With the car returning to levels below the lunacy that was exposed a moment ago, time to see if BMW’s claim of a 0-100km/h sprint time is true. Engage Sport+ and traction control disengages automatically. Flick the gearbox into manual mode again and stomp on the brakes. Hard. With the right foot on the accelerator, the six-cylinder engine climbs up the rev range, a notification appears that launch control has been activated, and now release brake! The car jumps forward and in a matter of seconds surpasses 100km/h. BMW claims 4.6 seconds and we did it in under five! This car also allows for drivers to perform standing burnouts, but with one tyre costing around R6000… ja, we don’t think you’d be doing burnouts every day.
Following a week of insane fun in this car, it’s refreshing to realise that there are still premium cars that offer subliminal performance at a fraction of the price. BMW took no shortcuts when constructing this car and the way it handles is reminiscent of a BMW M3/4. Sure, it doesn’t have the refinement and performance of these two great vehicles, but it reminds that one can get an M-BMW without breaking the bank. Is this enough performance car that one would ever need? Undoubtedly no! I’d still opt for the M3/4. But at R700k there are very few sports cars that will offer a fraction of the fun that this Beemer is able to do. And in that regard, it’s enough.