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BMW M240i convertible 2016 review

EXPERT RATING
6
Tim Robson road tests and reviews the new BMW M240i Convertible with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

Tim Robson road tests and reviews the new BMW M240i Convertible with specs, fuel consumption and verdict.

BMW has recently given its 1- and 2 Series fleet a mid-life refresh, and the M240i Convertible didn't miss out.

At $83,900 before on-road costs, it's the second most expensive variant of BMW's smallest rear-drive family, after the much-vaunted M2. It's actually dropped by $2600 over the previous version – known as the M235i – and gained a bit of extra kit.

While it scores a host of underskin technical updates that add speed and convenience, it does miss out in a couple of surprising ways.

Design

There is exactly zero to tell about changes to the M240i – because there are none. Okay, there's one; the badge used to say 'M235i', but thanks to the addition of a new turbocharged six-cylinder engine (more on that later), there's a new one stuck on the boot lid. Really. That's it.

The front seats are comfortable and the small wheel is a delight to use.

The car is a bit high-waisted in the rear three-quarter in our eyes, shrinking the rear wheel well visually and losing some of the impact of the 2-Series coupe from whence it came.

In fact, bereft of much in the way of external bodykit items, it's even perhaps a shade conservative in its presentation.

Practicality

The folding steel roof does its business in a shade over 20 seconds, and you can raise or lower the roof at speeds of up to 50km/h if you dare.

Twenty seconds is quite a while – it's about four times as long as it takes to open or close a Mazda MX-5 roof, for example – and when the c-pillar piece pauses to allow the roof panel to move, it's hard not to think it's not going to work.
 
The other issue with a steel folder is the boor space it swallows up. If you want to travel with boxes or bags of any size, you won't be going topless, as it were... The official numbers are 335 litres with the roof up and just 280 down.

BMW has carved $2600 off the M240i, despite adding more gear as standard.

The interior of the M240i differs little from the M235i, save for an update to the iDrive system and a new Harman Kardon stereo fitted as standard. The irksome gear lever that controls the eight-speed auto remains unchanged, there is still a mechanical handbrake installed, and the continued lack of a digital speedo is simply baffling. We really can't think of another new car without one.

The front seats are comfortable and the small wheel is a delight to use, though rear seaters are best sized downwards, particularly with the roof in place.

There is a pair of cupholders up front, and two in the centre rear armrest. There are slots in the front doors for larger bottles, but none in the rear. Back seat riders do get air vents, though, and there are two ISOFIX baby seat mounts on the outboard pair of perches.

Price and features

BMW has carved $2600 off the M240i, despite adding more gear as standard. Items like LED lighting, a bigger stereo, electric front seats, BMW's latest iD5 iDrive with a higher-resolution 8.8-inch colour multimedia screen and keyless entry are now included.

It's still a good $12,000 above its most logical rival, the less powerful Audi S3 Cabriolet, and it's $9000 dearer than the M240i coupe.

The headline change for the M240i is its engine swap.

Leather trim, digital radio, satellite navigation with live-time updates, a remote-operated roof, dual-zone climate control and heated front seats are also standard.

Apple CarPlay is a $479 option, and Android Auto isn't offered at all by BMW.

Disappointingly, the M240i misses out on auto emergency braking, though it offers what BMW calls 'light' city braking.

Engine and transmission

The headline change for the M240i is its engine swap. The new engine – codenamed B58 – shares the same 3.0-litre swept volume and its six-inline cylinder arrangement as the outgoing F55 motor, but that's about it.

A smaller turbo and heavily revised inlet manifold help the M240i achieve 260kW at 5000rpm and 500Nm between 1520 and 4500rpm – that's 10 more kilowatts and 50 Newton metres more than the F55, and the same torque figure as the M2.

That's quite a chunk of oomph for a physically small car – but the M240i's Achilles heel is its weight. At 1690kg, it's 145kg heavier than the M240i coupe, thanks to extra chassis stiffening and strengthening, and it doesn't go unnoticed.

The standard ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic returns in the M240i, and if you really want one, BMW will sell you one with a six-speed manual for no extra.

Fuel consumption

BMW claims the M240i will achieve 7.4 litres per 100km on the combined fuel economy cycle, equating to a theoretical range of around 700km from its 52-litre fuel tank.

Our 310km of testing saw a figure of 8.7 litres per 100km recorded on the dashboard, after a mixture of urban and highway driving with the roof up and down.

Driving

Open-topped versions of sporty cars often don't live up to the lofty standards of their hard-topped brethren, and so it is with the M240i.

Even though the six-potter's immense torque is always on hand, and despite a little rasp and burble when you back off the throttle, the car's edge is blunted by the convertible's weight penalty that also seems to take the edge of the suspension's ability to transmit that final bit of feedback to the nut behind the wheel.

The best way to enjoy the 240 is at six-tenths, using the torque to devour long stretches of rolling tarmac and taking in the fresh air.

The bigger M-branded brakes are strong and willing, and the gearbox is a testament to why BMW shied away from dual-clutch gearboxes, but it's just not especially joyous trying to cajole the M240i through a series of corners.

Its turning ability and steering still bests that of the 3 Series, but the power output of the M240i surely deserves some sort of torque management at the rear wheels. A limited slip diff is an almost $6000 option, though.

The best way to enjoy the 240 is at six-tenths, using the torque to devour long stretches of rolling tarmac and taking in the fresh air. Buffeting in the cabin is pleasingly minimal even at highway speeds, and BMW provides a detachable wind deflector in any case.

Safety

The little BMW is fitted with Driving Assistant, which incorporates approach control, lane departure and pedestrian warnings with a light city braking function (but not full auto emergency braking).

The convertible also has pop-up roll bars that deploy instantly if a roll-over is detected.

Ownership

BMW provides a three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty on the M240i.

A BMW Service Inclusive Basic package covers scheduled servicing for five years or 80,000km. Costing $1440, the Basic package includes your annual vehicle checks, oil changes, all filters, spark plugs and labour costs for the duration of the package.

Verdict

BMW's recent form has been good, especially with the M2 and the M235i (now M240i) coupe providing real dash and flash for the cash.

That magic hasn't really rubbed off on the M240i convertible, unfortunately. The engine upgrade is a firecracker, no doubt, and the cost of entry is now lower.

It just lacks an edge, both appearance- and performance-wise, which makes it a hard sell over the excellent – and cheaper – coupe version of the same car.

Is this quick convertible your summer dream ride? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Click here for more 2016 BMW 2 Series pricing and spec info.

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Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
M235i 3.0L, PULP, 6 SP MAN $39,980 – 46,990 2016 BMW 2 Series 2016 M235i Pricing and Specs
220i Luxury Line 2.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $31,600 – 41,360 2016 BMW 2 Series 2016 220i Luxury Line Pricing and Specs
220i M-Sport 2.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $29,499 – 39,990 2016 BMW 2 Series 2016 220i M-Sport Pricing and Specs
220i Sport Line 2.0L, PULP, 8 SP AUTO $22,000 – 39,986 2016 BMW 2 Series 2016 220i Sport Line Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
6
Tim Robson
Contributing Journalist

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