When it comes to convertibles, you either get it, or you don’t, and the vast majority fall into the latter category.
Those who harbour negative feelings towards convertibles do so for two reasons. The first is plain jealousy, and the second is that they’ve never been in one, and thus have no idea of how fun they actually are. Interestingly enough, two of my favourite cars from the last year have both been convertibles, the Mazda MX5 (and MX5 RF) and most recently the BMW M240i.
What each person wants, and needs from a car purchase, differs incredibly. For most, I suspect the main factors that influence their final decision are price, style and degree of luxury. As an enthusiast, however, you look beyond the offering to the experience the car will deliver. The right car isn’t merely a product to get you from A to B, it’s an instrument of endless emotions. When the ‘right car’ is also a ragtop, you introduce an additional spectrum of emotions – providing an experience only a current or former convertible owner will ever truly understand.
On the evening of day one, while punching the vivacious M240i around the Cahill Expressway loop and onto the Harbour Bridge, with the top down and the sun falling behind the city, it all fell into place.
At your fingertips is one of the most unassuming vehicles on the road today, especially when you park it next to the brutish M2. I haven’t driven the M2, so comparisons are tough, but I feel like the M240i is a relative bargain when it comes to luxury performance coupes under $100k. At roughly $90k for a demonstrator ($22k less than the approximately $122k demo M2) the M240i is a fantastic piece of kit. The 250kW turbocharged straight six produces only 22kW less than the M2 and feels unstoppable in the mid range. There is copious amounts of torque mated to a seamless eight-speed gearbox that provides more than enough performance for a spirited squeeze.
I took the M240i to the mid north coast to visit some friends at Comboyne. After exiting the Pacific Highway, I cruised into Wauchope via some sweeping country roads and onwards to Comboyne via the Oxley Highway. For roughly an hour I had a herculean grin on my face, tucking the car into tight rising hairpins, feeling the car under heavy braking before rocketing out of corners and smoking anything that dawdled in front of me. The beautifully weighted sports steering is precise, the car grips superbly (I can’t imagine how good the M2 is!) and there’s enough of a soundtrack, albeit minus the virtual enhancement, to keep you entertained. If there were any misconceptions about convertibles being ‘hairdressers cars’, the ute full of farmers whose rearview mirror I consumed, and then shot past, certainly aren’t thinking it anymore.
I honestly couldn’t get enough of the BMW M240i. It was everything I wanted in a car, and more – a convertible. Unfortunately, it rained for the entire weekend I spent up north, but there were some fleeting moments I got to enjoy the roof down, cocooned in the cockpit, windows up, with the heater warming my hands. It sounds counterintuitive to have the top down and the heater on but it’s an exhilarating experience having the top down at night, wind flicking at your ears but your hands cosy, then taking in the beauty of the sky above at every red light.
Unfortunately, despite having an M body kit and M 18-inch wheels, the looks just don’t do the BMW M240i justice at all. Next to the M2, it looks soft – the convertible roof doesn’t help in this department either. I mentioned the word unassuming above, and I like that it is, but it’s worthy of more aggression. Tucked away are M Sport brakes and adaptive M suspension, there’s also the option of a limited-slip differential. Inside the M240i has an 8.8-inch screen with the solid sat nav, Harman/Kardon stereo, power adjustable and heated seats, proximity fob, plus Driving Assistant and an arsenal of driving modes to keep you occupied.
What excites me about the BMW M240i, be it the convertible or the hardtop, is what it presents as a package. It’s an affordable luxury European coupe with real performance. A torquey, rear wheel drive, pocket rocket that is exceptionally fun to boot and equally as enjoyable to appreciate around town. There’s one on cars sales for $69k, and I’d struggle to tell you a better way to spend your cash.
For more info on the BMW M240i head to the BMW website.
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