Ever since M Performance cars—or M-Lites as their known by their fans and customers—first hit the scene, there have been debates about which is best to buy, the M-Lite or the proper M car. That question is harder to answer than ever, now that M Performance cars are so powerful and impressive. Especially in the case of the BMW M240i and M2, as the former is faster than most M cars of the past generation. So which do you actually buy? Let’s take a look at their pros and cons, to see which is best for you.
BMW M240i: Pros
There are many reasons to buy a BMW M240i. For starters, it’s a small, BMW coupe with relatively normal styling, something that isn’t easy to come by anymore. Proportionally, it’s very good looking, with a long hood, a short rear deck, a good dash-to-axle ration, and a relatively proper Hofmeister Kink. It isn’t quite as good looking as its predecessor but it’s still much better than most modern Bimmers.
The M240i is also a shockingly fast performance car. Its 3.0-liter turbocharged “B58” inline-six cylinder engine makes 382 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque. That might not sound like an immense amount of power but Bavarian horses must be stronger than most because the M240i is capable of nailing 60 mph in 4.1 seconds.
One thing the M240i has that the M2 does not is available all-wheel drive. The M240i’s xDrive system allows it to be more all-weather capable and more consistently fast. So owners needn’t fear the rain, nor worry about dramatic off-the-line wheel spin. Instead, they can just plant their right foot and go like hell.
Cost is another advantage for the BMW M240i. It’s far cheaper than the M2, starting at $49,895, compared to the M2’s $63,195. In addition to being cheaper, it’s also more comfortable, with a softer ride and quieter cabin. So those who are looking for a daily driver might find the M240i more palatable. And, that cost includes very cool colors, such as Thundernight (purple) Metallic and Portimao Blue.
BMW M240i: Cons
That’s not to say the M240i is perfect, though. There are a few issues with the M240i, like there are with any car, and they could dissuade someone from choosing it over the BMW M2. For starters, it isn’t quite as sharp as the proper M2 and completely lacks steering feel. The M240i, despite its cool looks and punchy performance, steers like a video game and it’s completely lifeless. And while the ride is good on rougher roads, it never quite feels as or as engaging as the M2.
However, the biggest issue potential customers will have with the M240i is its lack of a manual transmission. The M240i is auto-only and that does dampen its enthusiast-car nature a bit. The ZF eight-speed auto is good for an automatic but it does ruin some of the car’s cool factor.
As comfortable as it is, the BMW M240i’s compliance does sap some of its driver engagement. It’s much more of a good all-rounder than it is a genuine sports car, which is great for someone using it as a daily but certainly keeps it from becoming something truly special. Conversely, its back seat is quite compromised, so it’s only a great daily for someone without children.
BMW M240i Verdict: The BMW M240i is a comfortable, usable, everyday sports car that will be easy to live with on the daily commute but also fun enough on a twisty backroad. It trades some of the genuine excitement of a sports car for ride comfort and interior quietness.
BMW M2: Pros
I think the main pros of the BMW M2 are self-explanatory. For starters, its engine is the S58 3.0-liter twin-turbo I6, making 453 horsepower and 406 lb-ft of torque. That makes it good for 0-60 mph in a claimed 3.9 seconds with the eight-speed automatic. Unlike the M240i, the M2 is actually available with a six-speed manual transmission, which is a huge boost for fun and driver involvement.
It also handles like a much more expensive car. With subframes, wheel carriers, and several other suspension components from the BMW M4, the M2 has a level of chassis and suspension sophistication that outclasses many of its competitors, especially the M240i. So it’s shockingly sharp to drive.
In fact, it’s significantly more exciting to drive than the M240i. While the M240i is a great daily driver, the M2 feels genuinely special, with far more precision, balance, and poise. It’s a car that’s more at home on the Nürburgring than it is on the school run. So if you’re looking for something to light your hair on fire on the weekends, the BMW M2 is that car.
The M2 also looks good, with its unique flared fenders, which are extra flared at the rear. BMW M cars are supposed to look a bit angry and the new M2 absolutely does. It looks mostly the same as the M240i, just with a bit of extra muscle, and that’s a very good thing.
BMW M2: Cons
As good as it is, the BMW M2 isn’t without flaws. Let’s start with its looks. Up front, the grille is different than the M240i’s and that new design isn’t as well liked. It’s boxier than the normal 2 Series’ and features horizontal grille slats, rather than BMW’s classic vertical ones. That’s really the only M2-specific visual con but it’s one worth noting. It’s also worth noting the M2’s lame color palette. With only two interesting colors—Zandvoort Blue and Toronto Red—the M2 lacks the visual excitement of previous M cars. More colors are on the way but they won’t come for at least another year.
Remember those M4-derived suspension components? As capable as they make the M2, they also make it quite heavy. The BMW M2 is almost as heavy as the BMW M4 and, in some cases, just as heavy. So while it’s technically quite capable, it doesn’t feel quite as scalpel sharp as its predecessor. Also, to dial out the negative effects of such weight, BMW had to also dial out some of its feel and feedback, making it sharp but numb, similar to the M3 and M4.
There’s no all-wheel drive available for the M2, either. That might not seem like a con to enthusiasts who prefer the superior balance and excitement of rear-wheel drive, but all-wheel drive has proven to make M cars more accessible without losing fun. Many customers in colder climates will want all-wheel drive, so they’ll have to look elsewhere.
Price is also an issue, depending on how you look at it. At $63,195 (after destination), the BMW M2 isn’t exactly cheap. It packs a lot of performance for the money, especially in the segment, but it’s only a few tenths of a second faster to 60 mph than the M240i and few customers will ever take either to the track.
BMW M2 Verdict: The BMW M2 is a proper M car, with a violent engine, superhero capabilities, and brash character. It’s fast, loud, and angry in ways that the M240i isn’t, plus it’s available with a manual transmission. However, to achieve such thrills, it sacrifices the M240i’s ride comfort and hushed cabin. And you’ll pay quite a bit more for it.
Both cars are great. Unless you’re a spoiled rich person, you’ll be happy owning either, as they both provide speed, good handling, good looks, and a comfortable enough interior. Choosing between the two is like playing with those categories on a sliding scale. How much of each do you want: power, comfort, handling, quietness, and value? Like all things, both cars have their pros and cons and customers who will buy them based on their needs. So if you’re currently deciding which one you want, weigh these pros and cons.