Stepping inside, we discover a familiar driving environment, albeit one covered with soft fabric to hide the more intricate details of the cabin until its planned unveiling early next month. The dashboard, instruments, central touch display, controls and trims are all similar in design to those of the 2 Series Gran Coupe. The driving position is spot on – snug and fittingly low.
We’re hardly a mile into our test before the willing properties of the reworked six-cylinder remind us of its remarkable dual character. Despite the added power, it remains deliciously smooth and tractable. With free-revving qualities and 367lb ft of torque, it provides the new M240i xDrive with the sort of all-round athleticism other four-cylinder performance rivals can’t match. It sounds terrific, too.
In this particular prototype, it’s mated to an updated version of the old model’s eight-speed automatic gearbox. Like the engine, it operates in a tremendously smooth manner with outstanding shift quality no matter what the driving mode. BMW is yet to announce any performance claims but you can expect a 0-62mph time of around 4.5sec together with a limited 155mph top speed.
The new BMW coupe is an absolute joy. It lacks the hardened edge of the existing M2. But in most situations it feels every bit as quick as its older performance sibling – itself set to be replaced by an even more powerful successor model based on the new 2 Series Coupe in 2023. BMW has focused a lot of attention at refining the suspension of the new 2 Series Coupe with the addition of a series of new braces and other measures, many similar to those found on the larger 4 Series Coupe.
Their benefit is felt in the handling, which is even more entertaining than before. There’s a sweetly struck balance to the M240i xDrive’s on-road qualities. Over challenging roads the body control is excellent; there’s a typical tautness to the action of the M-sport suspension, but it doesn’t come at the expense of ride quality, which remains nicely compliant even in the more sporting driving modes. This is largely thanks to the quick-acting qualities of the adaptive dampers, which will come as an option on the range-topping 2 Series Coupe. The ability of the aluminium-intensive underpinnings to soak up high-frequency bumps is particularly impressive.