Ever own a slot-car track as a kid? If you did, your gray-matter will still be ingrained with grin-inducing images of racy little model cars blasting along straightaways and taking curves at ludicrous speeds.
As grown-ups, there’s a way to re-create that thrill of a super-quick little slot-car racer, with hair-trigger responses, slingshot acceleration and insane cornering.
Just buy yourself a BMW M240i xDrive.
This is simply the most fun-to-drive, most enjoyable, most lovable, most fantastic car I’ve driven in eons.
No, it’s not the priciest—costing under $50,000 it’s a veritable sports car bargain. And it’s not the most exotic—see one on the street, especially in our test car’s shade of washer-dryer white, and you might not give it a second glance.
But for the performance car lover, or anyone who simply loves to drive, this pint-sized Bimmer makes every trip to Trader Joe’s, every morning commute, every road trip to grandma’s house, an absolute blast.
Maybe it’s the 2 Series Coupe’s retro vibe that’s so appealing. It’s a throwback to the days when BMWs were less crazed in their styling, less demanding to live with, and more focused in being the “ultimate driving machines”.
Of course, this being BMW there’s a little confusion in where this new Coupe sits in the model range. For starters, it has nothing to do with the 2 Series Gran Coupe model, which rolls on a less-than-thrilling front-wheel drive platform.
This 2 Series Coupe is actually a scaled-down version of the beefier, rear-drive 4 Series two-door, without the love-em-or-hate-em swollen kidney grilles on the nose. This new 2 sticks with narrower, more retro grilles.
But what makes the 2 we’re driving such a blast is that our M240i xDrive takes its entire powertrain from the bigger M440i xDrive coupe.
That includes the awesome 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder with its beefy 383 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of six-pack-abs-like torque.
It works with a trigger-happy ZF 8-speed automatic and BMW’s rear-wheel-biased xDrive all-wheel drive system to enhance the driving fun.
And fun it is. Put pedal to the metal and this little bundle of automotive joy can catapult from rest to 60mph in just 4.1 seconds. Rocketing out of a freeway ramp, or lunging past that lumbering 18-wheeler, is just a couple of clicks of a paddle-shifter away.
And with such handling-enhancing features as adaptive suspension and an electronic limited-slip differential, this new 2 carves curves like it’s running on those slot-car tracks. Add to al this, steering that is so precise, so responsive, so alive it makes every curve feel like a Disney ride.
But the beauty here is that, unlike so many performance sports coupes, this $48,550 M240i won’t beat you up when the road surface turns gnarly. It rides smoothly, especially in Comfort mode, soaking-up lumps and bumps like Brawny on kitchen spills.
Inside there’s space for four with decent room in the back seat for a couple of adults, providing the trips are short. Pop the trunk and there’s 10 cubic feet of space—plenty for a weekend away or a grocery run.
Up front, the sports seats offer terrific side support and offer plenty of adjustment. The BMW M wheel also feels thick and grippy in your hands, the instruments are crystal clear, the controls very user friendly.
And the key part here that, to me, confirms the 2’s sports car credibility—terrific all-round visibility courtesy of thin roof pillars and deep windows.
Don’t need all that power? There’s a no-nonsense 230i coupe version with a 255-hp turbo four-cylinder under the hood and rear-wheel drive. It’s a bargain from $36,350.
But it’s not an M240i. Here is simply one of the most fun cars money can buy, a pocket-rock thrill ride that’ll make you smile every time you press that “start” button.
It’s nothing less than a full-size slot car.