Audi TT RS 2017 review
From world rally, sports and touring car success, Audi has motorsport and performance embedded in its DNA. So, no surprise Audi chose Phillip Island for the Australian launch of its TT RS.
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There are two schools of thought when it comes to buying a premium-branded luxury car: you could go all out and get the flagship model, which will likely be the sportiest and most desirable option, but may also be the most compromised in terms of cost and comfort.
Or you could take the more logical approach, aiming to find the happy middle ground in terms of a balance of pricing and performance. That's where the BMW M240i Coupe comes in.
It isn't as focused, and therefore not as compromised, as the BMW M2, but it strikes a nice balance of sportiness and luxury, with an asking price a not-ignorable amount lower than the go-fast 2 series coupe flagship. My question, then, is this: do you go all out on the M2, or save some money and get the M240i?
|BMW 2 Series 2018: M240I M240I|
|Engine Type||3.0L turbo|
|Fuel Type||Premium Unleaded Petrol|
From most angles the M240i looks fairly sporty, which is precisely the requirements for a driver-oriented two-door car. The styling of the body lends itself to the rear-drive underpinnings, with short overhangs at the front and the rear - but to my eye, it still looks a bit funny side-on, where the bubble top gives away its hatchback heritage (it's based on the 1 Series hatch).
New for the 2018 model are adaptive LED headlights, new L-shaped LED tail-lights, re-sculpted bumpers front and rear, and a new set of 18-inch wheels. On the whole, I think the appeal and appearance of the 2 Series coupe is getting better with age - a bit like a scrawny teen, it's slowly growing into its clothes. I guess that's what happens when you have a muscle man like the M2 for a big brother.
What is perhaps the most peculiar thing about the 2 Series Coupe range is that from the back seat it feels almost more spacious than in the 1 Series hatch. Odd, right? And the access to the second row - by way of a pair of folding-and-electronic-sliding seats - is reasonably easy unless you're a plus-size adult.
If you do find yourself in that category, there's a good chance you won't want to be finding yourself in the back seats very often, as there isn't a whole lot of space - anyone pushing 183cm (six-foot) will find their hair brushing the head-lining and their knees bumping the seat ahead. There are only two seats, but they would be well suited to children or occasional adult use.
Up front is BMW’s 'Navigation System Professional' is standard in the M240i, with its large 8.8-inch screen offering touch capability as well as the clever dial controller between the front seats. The system has the new 'iDrive 6' software, just like you'll find in the new 5 series, and there is Apple CarPlay, which is cable-free in this iteration, but BMW asks buyers to pay $623 for the privilege.
The multimedia system also includes BMW ConnectedDrive capability, with emergency calling if you happen to have an accident, and real-time traffic information. When I was driving in to the office, I was alerted of a particularly bad snarl caused by a break-down, which I wouldn't have known otherwise. Clever! And the M240i has a 12-speaker harman/kardon surround sound system, which is good - but not great.
The red leather trim of our test car mightn't be to all tastes, but it certainly is eye-catching, and the quality of the 'Dakota' trim (I always wonder, was that the name of the cow(s)?) is excellent quality. There are front seat heaters, too. Height-adjustable seat belts would be nice, as would seat belt presenters - it's a bit of a reach back to retrieve your clicker, particularly for shorter drivers.
There is good storage on offer, with large enough door pockets for a bottle, though they aren't sculpted as such. There are cupholders in the front, but not in the back - between the two seats is a small storage tray, and there's no flip-down centre armrest between those rear positions, either.
The boot is a sizeable 390 litres, 30 litres larger than the 1 Series hatch, and because there isn't a spare wheel (the 2 Series, like all BMWs, uses run-flat tyres, and tyre pressure monitoring is fitted) there is no penalty to pay for boot depth. The rear seats fold down by way of triggers mounted in the cargo area, but if the headrests have been up on the back seats, they may snag when you drop them down.
The 2018 update for the BMW M240i didn't see it mirror the hatchback version's (M140i) big price cut. Instead, the M240i is up $2190 compared with the model that preceded it, but it has some new features that set it apart from its forebear, such as new lighting and a new multimedia system.
Plus it still has a glorious six-cylinder drivetrain, which pairs to a standard-fit eight-speed automatic transmission with paddleshifters, but you can option a six-speed manual if you so choose - danke schön, Bayerische Motoren-Werke!
At this price point - $76,800 plus on-road costs - there is no doubting that this is car has the potential to be considered the thinking person's M2 - it is nearly $20,000 more affordable than the only automatic M2 you can buy, and while it doesn't have the stripped-out sportster vibe of that car - nor the punch, if I'm honest - if you consider the M240i as a more liveable alternative to the flagship, you won't be disappointed.
When it comes to competitors, there aren't many rear-drive luxury coupes at this price point. You could stretch the budget and consider a Porsche 718 Cayman, but that'll hit your hip pocket hard. An Audi TT with AWD could be one to think about, but it's only a two-seater, and it's expensive.
You could take a look at a Mercedes-Benz SLC, but it's a two-seat convertible. Maybe a Ford Mustang, then? Or perhaps an Infiniti Q60 Red Sport, which I reckon looks a heck of a lot better than it drives...? Um, yeah - the 2 Series Coupe plays in rarefied air.
The 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder engine is good for a stonking 250kW of power and 500Nm of torque, which is well good for a car of this size. So good, in fact, that BMW claims a 0-100km/h sprint time of 4.6 seconds - just 0.3sec slower than the M2. Sounds like money well saved - you'd have to spend quite a bit more on other German coupes to get this sort of performance.
Shifting gears is an eight-speed automatic with a sport mode, manual mode and paddles, with drive being sent to the rear wheels.
BMW claims fuel use of 7.1 litres per 100km, with emissions rated at 163g/km. I didn't quite get that, with my mix of highway, stop-start and spirited steering returning a consumption number of 8.1L/100km. I'm going to call that better than fair, considering the grunt on offer.
You'll need 52 litres of 95 RON premium unleaded to fill the tank.
If you want to feel on edge, you really ought to take a no-holds-barred spin in the BMW M240i. I mean, ideally, you'd want a closed road or a race track - but a quiet twisty road could be enough to entice your inner enthusiast.
The 3.0-litre turbo six is superb, with plenty of push - you've got to keep an eye on the instruments to make sure you're not moving too quickly: it's that fast. What a shame that those outside of the car get to hear more of it than those in the cabin, though: there is a nice chortle and some crackle on the overrun, but you only get to really hear that if you have the windows down, or you're standing to the side as the car drives past you.
The automatic transmission can be a little tentative in its most sedate mode, but the paddles can fix that, allowing you to bounce off the rev limiter without overriding your choices, bad as they may be.
No doubt this is a brilliant driver's car.
It has staggered width Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres - 225/40 up front and 245/35 at the rear - around the 18-inch wheels (7.5-inch at the front, 8.0-inch at the rear), but to be honest it could do with even more at the back, because when the engine's 500Nm of torque comes on from 1520rpm all the way up to 4500rpm, you'll be asking a lot of those rear rubbers to keep a grip on the road.
The traction control system does a decent job of keeping things under control - if that's what you want - but the Sport+ setting allows a bit more slip at the back, making for a pretty fun experience in corners. The brake pedal is a little soft under foot, but pulls the car up pretty well.
The adaptive M suspension is changeable based on the drive mode chosen, with Sport and Sport+ setting the chassis up for corner carving over comfort, while Comfort is, er, more comfortable. That isn't to say it is plush, with the rear-end in particular still offering some abrupt reactions to sharp-edged bumps.
No doubt this is a brilliant driver's car - one you won't find the limits of, nor appreciate the abilities of, unless you find yourself on a race track or a closed road. But it also doubles as an amenable commuter, dealing with the droll days of driving to and from work without much hassle at all.
3 years / unlimited km warranty
The M240i has driver-assistance technology including AEB, forward-collision warning, pedestrian-detection and lane-departure warning as standard. Other safety aids include dynamic braking lights, DSC, ABS, 'Braking Assistant', 'Cornering Brake Control' (CBC), 'Dynamic Traction Control' (DTC), cruise control with braking function (not adaptive cruise control - but it will hold a speed down a hill), a reversing camera, 'Park Distance Control' (PDC) front and rear sensors. No blind-spot, lane-keeping assistance or rear cross-traffic alert systems are on offer.
There are two top-tether restraints across the back seat, with ISOFIX anchor points in each position.
The BMW 2 Series Coupe, and therefore the M240i, has never been tested by ANCAP. Only the 2 Series Active Tourer - the odd-bod MPV that shares very little with the 2 Series Coupe - has been, and it managed a four-star score. The 1 Series hatch managed a five-star score back in 2011.
BMW's standard warranty program spans three years/unlimited kilometres, with the same period of cover for roadside assistance. There's a basic five-year/80,000km service plan available for $1340, which covers annual vehicle checks, oil changes, filters and plugs, and labour costs. The car's condition-based service system will tell you when it thinks it needs maintenance.
With a six-cylinder sweetheart of an engine and a thrilling drive experience on offer, there are some seriously good reasons to consider the BMW M240i. But there are a couple of question marks over some of the finer details - none of them are deal-breakers, however.
So, back to the preposition I plotted at the beginning - does it make sense as a more affordable alternative to the M2? The answer is yes... but it's also, no.
I'd spend the extra money and get the M2, but power and presence matters more to me than it might to most. And then again, I'd probably buy a manual M2 Pure, which is not as far a stretch.
|220i Luxury Line||2.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$45,200 – 57,200||2018 BMW 2 Series 2018 220i Luxury Line Pricing and Specs|
|230I M-Sport||2.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN||$55,200 – 69,740||2018 BMW 2 Series 2018 230I M-Sport Pricing and Specs|
|M240I M240I||3.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$50,000 – 63,250||2018 BMW 2 Series 2018 M240I M240I Pricing and Specs|
|220i Sport Line||2.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO||$53,900 – 61,930||2018 BMW 2 Series 2018 220i Sport Line Pricing and Specs|
|Price and features||8|
|Engine & trans||9|