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    BMW M240i
    The M Performance coupe surprises a sceptical staff writer with its ability to feel more like a proper M Division car.

    / #BMW-F22 / #BMW-M240i / #BMW-M240i-F22 / #BMW-2-Series / #BMW-2-Series-F22 / #BMW-2-Series-Coupe / #BMW-2-Series-Coupe-F22 / #BMW-M240i / #2018

    Our M240i has been with us for a good six months as I write this, but despite plenty of opportunities, I haven’t felt particularly compelled to hop into this 335bhp rear-wheel- drive coupe. Why? Because I’ve simply never fallen for the M240i, nor its predecessor, the M235i, or its hot hatch equivalent, the M140i. To me they’re good, ordinary #BMW s: fast enough and with decent handling, but the M Division influence implied by the ‘M Performance’ branding has never felt overwhelming.

    Then recently I noticed that our 240 had spent a couple of nights in the car park, so I took pity on it. And I found more obvious M-car traits than I was expecting, although, as is the modern way, I had to select Sport or Sport+ mode before these characteristics became apparent. The first was from the gearbox.

    Unfortunately, the abrupt gearchange that you experience with the #DCT ’box in current M-cars has made its way into the M240i’s eight-speed auto. At every full-throttle upshift the change of ratios is so forceful that it sends a shock through the drivetrain. If you change up mid-corner the whole car becomes flustered. Thankfully this isn’t as frightening as in the proper #M-cars , as the 240i’s open differential means only one tyre will lose traction, rather than both, if the gearchange is especially brutal. It’s perhaps the first time in my life I’ve been glad a rear-wheel-drive car didn’t have an LSD.

    Once accustomed to the brusque ’box, things got much better. In Sport mode the M240i feels more willing to weave its nose through a set of bends than any other sub-full-M BMW I’ve driven. Instead of the squidgy-soft chassis I had expected, I found much tighter control, less body roll and more precision. And even despite the lack of LSD, the throttle had a much greater influence on the car’s attitude than I thought it would.

    This is the first M240i I’ve driven with adaptive dampers, and they clearly expand the car’s repertoire: every-day-comfortable on long journeys but sharper when you want to have fun. The M2 may make do with passive items, but the fancy dampers on the 240 do make it feel like more of an M-car when you need it to. Will Beaumont (@ Will-Beaumont)

    Date acquired November 2017
    Total mileage 8798
    Mileage this month 1561
    Costst his month £0
    Mpg this month 28.5
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    Packing an Active Tourer to the gunwales with the Harper family should prove a stern test of the mini MPV’s mettle. Words and photography: Bob Harper. #BMW-220d-Active-Tourer . Alpine Adventure Can a 220d xDrive Active Tourer cope with the demands of a family skiing holiday?

    Since its launch back in 2014 the 2 Series Active Tourer has been given a lot of stick from what you might term ‘BMW traditionalists’. One gets the feeling that even if the Active Tourer was the world’s best #MPV it would still be lambasted to a certain extent for its transverse-engined front-wheel drive layout – it’s just not very BMW is it? If you look at it from BMW’s perspective though, why should it be left behind? Other manufacturers – we’re looking mainly at Mercedes here – have been doing it for years and it doesn’t seem to have done it any harm. And one just has to look at our roads today to see that things have changed significantly from the days when the three-box saloon ruled the roost. Like it or not the motoring climate is changing with consumers wanting increasingly more versatile cars.

    And machines like the 2 Series Active Tourer are bringing that versatility to the BMW brand. Research demonstrated that the number one reason for customers to leave the BMW fold was that the company didn’t make the type of car the customer wanted, and given it has most other niches filled already the type of machine that was missing was an MPV. Personally I’ve never really felt the need for one, and owning a Fiat Multipla for a while did little to convince me otherwise. It did convince me that Italian electrics are just as bad as urban legend would suggest… but that’s a story for another day.

    Having been reasonably impressed with the Active Tourer on the launch I decided it was time for a sterner test, and they don’t come much tougher than ferrying the Harpers about on their holidays. My sister has been on at us for years to accompany her to the slopes for the annual half-term skiing trip and despite concerns about how my dodgy back and worn out knees would cope we finally relented. When this plan was hatched I wasn’t sure if I’d still have my VW company car so a call to the chaps in the BMW press office saw an #Active-Tourer being booked for the trip in 220d xDrive form.

    With 190hp and 295lb ft of torque on tap it should have more than enough mumbo to haul the Harpers and all their associated clobber to the slopes and once emptied of passengers and belongings the surefooted xDrive system should help to make it an entertaining companion on the twisty mountain roads. The first task though was to shoehorn the unfeasibly large number of bags sitting in the hall into the Active Tourer’s boot and on first appearance it looked very much like I was going to be trying to fit a quart into a pint pot. Perhaps I should have asked for a Gran Tourer instead…

    The ‘AT’ has a boot capacity of 468-litres whereas the ‘GT’ (seems so wrong applying that epithet to a people carrier!) can accommodate 560-litres and both cars have a clever rear seat whose backrest’s rake can adjust while the whole rear seat can be slid forward slightly to increase boot capacity at the expense of rear seat legroom. As our boys are getting rather lanky I opted to leave the seats be and by dint of some careful packing I did manage to fi t everything in. We’d packed with soft bags which did make this easier, but I still had to unpack most of the skiing gear and stow it in the compartment under the boot floor – it’s quite large but not a very bag friendly shape. Once everything was in two points came to mind. Firstly, having an electric tailgate (all ATs do) might be nice when you’re approaching the car with your hands full of clobber but it does make shoehorning the final items into the boot tricky as if the tailgate senses it won’t shut properly it bounces back up. With a manual tailgate it would have been easier to ‘persuade’ it to shut. Secondly, a BMW Touring, with its split folding tailgate, would have been far easier to load, and it’s a feature that I’ve always thought was brilliant for a load-lugger and was sorely missed when brimming the AT’s boot to the gunwales.

    Travelling during school half-terms can be fraught with traffic-induced disasters but as we’d elected to travel out on Sunday morning we seemed to have avoided the worst of the madness and our run down to Flumet (in the Savoie department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in south-eastern France) was more or less trouble-free. One small motorway hold up on the approach to Geneva was the only problem and while the péages did relieve us of around €80 for the privilege of using the lightly-trafficked motorways, it’s a price worth paying when one has 650 miles to knock off in a day.

    Observations on the car were generally very favourable. It never felt wanting for power and the simple to operate cruise control made light work of the motorway boredom. The normal BMW excellent phone integration meant we could listen to audiobooks to while away the hours and the comfortable sports seats (thankfully with optional heating to stop my back from seizing up!) and excellent ride (even on 18-inch M Sport spec wheels) with the adaptive dampers set on comfort made it a very relaxing trip.

    There were a couple of minor niggles… the glass and A-pillar arrangement at the base of the windscreen does create a couple of blind spots, but having had a look at most other vehicles of this ilk over the intervening week demonstrates that this is endemic to this breed of vehicle. Of more concern when doing big distances was a fuel tank capacity of just 51-litres which does mean stopping more frequently than you would in something like a 3 Series Touring. I also noticed that the engine seems a little noisier when mounted transversely – this is something I’ve also found when testing the new X1 (which shares the basic platform with the AT) but Mrs H thought it was perfectly acceptable when compared to her E84-generation X1 so perhaps I’m just being overly picky. What did come as a little bit of a surprise, and is linked to that small fuel tank, was overall economy for the trip down of just 37mpg. I know it was fully laden and I was cruising at a (hopefully police-friendly) smidgen under 90mph but given the car’s official combined consumption is 60mpg I was hoping for better.

    Once we’d hared up a few alpine passes during our week away and including the run back to London and we’d averaged 36.9mpg over 1415 miles. Back in Blighty, a more sedate, unladen journey saw a perhaps more representative economy figure of 52.4mpg over a 50 mile mixed journey, so maybe I was simply expecting too much when cruising at high-speed fully laden?

    Once we’d unpacked and enjoyed a welldeserved sherbet or two it was time to equip ourselves with skis for the following week’s exertions on the slopes and fortunately my brother-in-law’s main hobby seems to be buying up skiing equipment in end of season sales. Thus us four Harpers were soon fitted up with skis of varying lengths based on our perceived abilities along with helmets and other bits and bobs we’d neglected to buy before leaving England. Sadly my sister’s family seem to be blessed with below average-sized feet so a trip to the hire shop was in order the following morning to find something suitable for my oddly shaped feet. Fitting the skis and boots in the AT was a doddle and the 40-20-40 split folding rear seats made poking the skis through from the boot into the rear seat area (suitably covered in plastic sheeting I might add) very easy indeed and drew admiring glances from my brother-in-law whose Nissan just has a 40-60 split rear seat.

    I did nearly pass out on my first day on the slopes not due to skiing exertions – but from the price of the lift passes! We’ve not been skiing for around eight years but by golly they’re expensive. Once up in the mountains though the cost was soon forgotten – it’s a glorious feeling being on the top of a mountain with beautifully manicured slopes to cruise down. I’m not one for off-piste or any of that fancy jazz and avoid black runs like the plague but by the end of the week red runs were being dispatched pretty regularly and I was pleased to find I wasn’t the slowest member of our party, although my boys were happy to oblige with plenty of slow old man jokes each time we gathered at the chair lift at the bottom of a run.


    As is usual when away enjoying oneself on holiday the week seemed to rocket by at double speed and I only really had one opportunity to go and tackle some Alpine roads without the family on board. You might not think that a mini-MPV is going to be a particularly thrilling steer but the 2 Series did make a pretty good fist of entertaining up the twisties. The Alps have been chronically short of snow and even higher up on my test route the roads were completely devoid of the white stuff , although many of them were pretty wet thanks to lots of melt water coming down the mountains.

    In these conditions the xDrive was a boon, really clinging on tenaciously which was handy given some of the stomach-churning drops just a couple of feet from the car. The four-pot diesel was plenty punchy enough to haul the 220d’s 1585kg up and down the hills and the sport auto transmission with its steering wheel-mounted paddles was very effective when additional engine braking was required.
    Shoehorning the luggage back in for the journey home was slightly less of a trial and tribulation than it was on the way out (mainly as I’d drunk some of it!) but I still sorely missed a split folding tailgate for squeezing in the last few bits and bobs. Another Sunday dash to the Channel was on the cards and as luck would have it the 220d’s fuel tank was empty by the time we reached the famous ‘chicken services’ – Le Poulet de Bresse on the A39 between Dijon and Bourg-en-Bresse. I’ve always wanted to stop here after having seen Heston Blumenthal stop there on one of his TV programmes and enjoy a slap up chicken dinner… sadly for us its only just gone 9am and a gourmet chicken meal isn’t on the cards but we stock up with chicken-based Scooby snacks to keep us going. And take a quick snap of the car in front of the famous chicken.

    The return leg is more or less a facsimile of the run out through France – there’s little traffic and the 220d is an amiable companion. During the week we were away I’d been receiving a series of texts from Eurotunnel warning that we would be returning to the UK on one of the busiest days of the year, and how it was vital that we checked in on time or risk missing our train and a consequentially long wait for the next one. When coming from 600 miles away it’s difficult to judge arrival times all that accurately so I went on-line and upgraded to FlexiPlus for the not insignificant sum of £80. Arriving in Coquelles it proved to be just about the best 80 quid I’ve ever spent as the queues were monumental. We whizzed past in our FlexiPlus lane and were on a train 20 minutes after checking in. If you’re travelling at a busy time I’d recommend the FlexiPlus upgrade as the last thing you want after a eight-hour drive is to be sat in the car going nowhere for a couple of hours waiting to get your car on a train!

    Once home it was time to reflect of the Active Tourer. The boot was a little tight, but then again skiing trips do necessitate a huge amount of bulky clobber as puff y jackets don’t fold down very small. Economy was disappointing on the trip, but I’m prepared to put that down to my lead foot, but one certainly couldn’t fault the car for its ride or comfort or general refinement levels. Even those chunky 18s didn’t create too much road noise. The cockpit’s well-designed and hugely commodious storage pockets in the doors hold all the inevitable detritus accumulated on a lengthy road trip. It might not be a machine to excite a dyed-in-the-wool BMW fan, but as a tool for lugging people and luggage around it does an admirable job. The fact that it’s actually good to drive is an added bonus and makes it worthy of carrying the #BMW roundel.

    The xDrive was a boon, really clinging on tenaciously which was handy given some of the stomach-churning drops just a couple of feet from the car.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE 2017 / #BMW-F45 / #BMW-220d-xDrive / #BMW-220d-xDrive-F45 / #BMW-220d-F45 / #BMW / #2017 / #BMW-2-Series-F45 / #BMW-2-Series / #BMW-220d

    ENGINE: Four-cylinder, 16-valve, diesel
    CAPACITY: 1995cc
    MAX POWER: 190hp @ 4000rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 295lb ft @ 1750rpm
    0-62mp h: 7.3 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 138mph
    ECONOMY: 60.1mpg
    ECONOMY ON TEST: 39.8mpg
    EMISSIONS (CO²): 124g/km
    WEIGHT (EU): 1585kg
    PRICE (OTR): £33,350
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    Birds’ fully-fettled M235i / #BMW-F22 / #BMW-M235i / #BMW-M235i-F22 / #BMW-M235i-Birds-F22 / #BMW-2-Series / #BMW-2-Series-F22 / #BMW-2-Series-Coupe / #BMW-2-Series-Coupe-F22 / #BMW-M235i-Birds / #2017 / #Birds / #Birds-M235

    Bird of Prey Everyone’s having a go at improving the M235i but Birds’ fullyfettled example might be the best yet. With more power and a thoroughly refined suspension set up this M235i is gunning for the M2… and might just beat it! Words: Bob Harper. Photography: Dave Smith.

    It’s almost possible to determine how desirable a BMW model is by the amount of tuning products that become available from the aftermarket for that car. It probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise that we’re not inundated by companies offering upgrades for the 5 Series GT, but hardly a day goes by without there seemingly being an upgrade for BMW’s latest pocket rocket, the M235i and it’s slightly more recent sibling, the M240i. And in case hatchback owners are feeling left out it’s fair to say that the vast majority of what works on the Coupé also translates to the three- and five-door models, too.

    In the past few issues we’ve had several F22 Coupés in these pages vying to be the definitive version of the top-notch coupé and while we don’t think that any of them are claiming to rival BMW’s engineering capabilities what most companies are offering is something a little bit more hardcore than BMW’s factory offerings. There’s no doubt that if it chose to BMW could create the ultimate weapon using the F22 M240i but that car’s called the M2… and by the same rationale it can’t make the M2 the best thing since sliced bread as then no one would buy an M4. Ultimately the M240i is built to compete at a particular price point and for that reason there’s plenty of room for improvement.

    The world’s more or less your oyster when it come to tuning this model with a plethora of parts to choose from, both in terms of styling and performance, but at first glance Birds’ subtle black example that’s waiting patiently for me at the company’s Iver HQ looks like its missed out on the upgrades – take the badges off and it could almost pass for a 218d M Sport. Nice. That’s how I prefer my high performance machinery, understated.

    Despite its subtle looks a huge amount of work has gone into the set up for this 2 Series and when one speaks to Birds’ MD, Kevin Bird, it’s clear that he’s absolutely passionate about getting the best out of the car. As Quaife’s official distributor for both BMW and Mercedes limited slip differentials it’s almost a given that one would be fitted to the M235i to improve traction, and as more power never goes amiss an engine upgrade has endowed Birds’ M235i with a 390hp output. But it’s in the realm of #BMW suspension that Kevin really excels and he’s not been overly impressed with some of BMW’s latest offerings, especially on the F30 generation of machinery.

    Having already worked wonders on several of BMW’s latest cars – most of which we’ve driven and been impressed by (witness the 435d xDrive in last month’s issue) – Kevin set about putting the experience he’d gained working with the F-Series cars onto the M235i. While definite improvements were made with some bespoke springs and dampers Kevin decided to get a second opinion from James Weaver, a legendary sports car racer, who Kevin had become reacquainted with at a charity track event. Weaver had driven Birds’ Z4 35i at this event and had reckoned it could be considerably improved so Kevin wondered whether Weaver could offer some useful pointers when it came to the development work on the M235i. Weaver has won more sports car races than most people have had hot dinners and along with his chassis engineer, Peter Weston, knows more about setting a car up than just about anyone and after some initial meetings it was agreed that Weston and Weaver would help to fine tune the Birds’ M235i package and as a starting point Weston requested some measurements from the car. “I was astonished at the level of detail he required,” Kevin commented. “Not only things like arm ratios, corner-weights, spring stiffness, damper rates and so on, but stuff that we’d never even started to consider, like unsprung weights of each corner, centre of gravity above front and rear axles, bump stop stiffness and contact points. The measuring work alone took us two full days.”

    It was time well spent though as a few days later Weston came back to Birds with new spring and damper settings and after waiting for the springs to be produced and for Bilstein to re-valve the dampers they were duly fitted to the car to await a test by Weaver. Kevin takes up the story again; “The weather was cold and damp, but nevertheless, after much fiddling with tyre pressures, front and rear geometry and different wheel and tyre sets, a conclusion was reached. There was no doubt that the car was behaving much better than our own calculated confection, but it was suggested that even more could be achieved in terms of ride quality and especially traction and grip levels with a second revision to the set up”.

    After a further period of waiting the revised set up was fitted to the car. “This included changes to spring rates both front and rear, and damper curves to suit. Moreover, changes to the front track width (to generate less negative scrub radius) and, surprisingly, a different choice of tyre,” said Kevin, and he does admit to having his doubts as to whether the extra expense was worth it, after all, the first of the Weaver/Weston kits had seemed more or less spot on when he’d tested the car. He should have had faith though as when he drove the revised set up on the car he says it was a revelation. “Not only was the ride quality better than before, ultimate body control improved on our bumpy B roads and the steering feel improvements were in a different league. And the traction and grip levels? Simply unbelievable. Given the temperatures and conditions, we never expected to be able to assess that characteristic, but it’s blindingly obvious that where we had so little before, now we have it everywhere. This is without doubt the best suspension tune we have achieved so far.”
    Unsurprisingly as I stepped into Birds’ demonstrator I had pretty high expectations, especially as so much development work had gone into the car’s set up – no off the shelf parts here – with every aspect of the car’s underpinnings having been closely examined and finely honed by people who’ve probably forgotten more about driving and car control then I will ever learn. As is the way with these things the pictures have to take priority so I gingerly pick my way around the M25 and some of Surrey’s back roads to rendezvous with snapper Smithy. I’m concentrating on avoiding puddles and trying to keep the car clean at this point – and sadly I notice I’ve failed miserably in this respect when I arrive at our location – but it does dawn on me as I step out of the car that I’ve not actually noticed the ride quality as I’ve been cruising along. Which is exactly as you want it when not on a charge as you don’t want your internal organs going through a work out every time you drive your car, especially when you just need it to be a form of transport rather than for entertainment.

    Once the M235i’s been given a thorough cleaning and the static images are in the bag it’s time to head out for some action shots and now that I’m less concerned with keeping it clean I can delve a little bit deeper into the car’s performance and concentrate on the driving experience. Having slipped the car into Sport mode to sharpen up the throttle response one’s immediately hit by the additional soundtrack coming from the BMW M Performance exhaust with which this car is equipped – it might not make the car go any faster, but it sure sounds good.

    Running past the camera for the side-on panning shots is a little frustrating as what I really want to be doing is hammering the car as hard as possible but as this will make Smithy’s life tricky and will just make the process take even longer I content myself with driving briskly enough to give the images the sensation of speed, all the while feeling very comfortable in the car. No crashing over bumps, no jiggly ride, spot on in fact.

    Finding suitable corners in this part of the world can be difficult so we decide to head for where we know there’s something suitable which is a 15 minute drive away and what a 15 minutes they are. The back roads round here are quite tight but progress is rapid and massively grin inducing. Speeds rise as familiarity grows and my first impression is one of significant improvements to the steering, with the M235i almost feeling as if a slightly quicker rack has been installed. The car now responds with more immediacy as the steering wheel is turned and even on the damper sections of roads we encounter understeer really doesn’t rear its ugly head unless one’s being wildly optimistic with one’s corner entry speed.

    At the same time it’s devastatingly rapid on the straights between the corners and it makes no matter whether you simply leave the ‘box to its own devices or elect to swap cogs yourself with the paddles. This latter mode gives you a little more control as you enter the corners and one aspect I particularly like about this conversion is that it’s not afraid to allow the car a certain amount of body roll. This endows the M235i with the necessary compliance to shrug off and ride out mid-corner imperfections and the further I drive it the more convinced I become that virtually nothing is going to throw it off line or upset its cornering attitude. Grip levels are astonishingly high and there’s traction by the barrel load, not something you can always say about the M235i in inclement conditions when you ask it to deliver its last two-tenths of performance. In un-fettled form it can become a little ragged in these circumstances, but the Birds machine just gets on with the job of being blisteringly quick yet entertaining at the same time without a buttockclenching moment in sight.

    Once the pictures are in the bag and Smithy’s headed off to get editing the images I decide to take the long way home and avoid the M25, just to further experience the pace and poise of this car on the back roads. It doesn’t disappoint on any level. The ride’s great, the grip is of the highest order and the performance is sensational. The standard M235i might be a great bit of kit, but if you’re a keen driver who likes to use all the car’s performance without any compromises then may I suggest you speak to Kevin Bird about how he can transform your pocket rocket into an M2 eater.

    CONTACT: Birds / Tel: 01753 657444 / Web: www.birdsauto.com

    DATA FILE BIRDS’ #BMW-M235i / #BMW-M235i-Birds

    / #Birds-B2-3.5-Complete-Conversion : 390hp engine upgrade, Birds’ springs and dampers, #Quaife limited slip differential, 18-inch tyres and geometry set up – £7239.

    B2 Dynamics package: Birds’ springs and dampers, Quaife limited slip differential, 18-inch tyres and geometry set up – £4776.

    Please note: Prices quoted include all parts, labour and VAT. Further upgrades are available on request.

    “Not only was the ride quality better than before, ultimate body control improved on our bumpy B roads and the steering feel improvements were in a different league”

    Speeds rise as familiarity grows and my first impression is one of significant improvements to the steering.
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    Small Wonder Motech’s fully-tuned M235i. How a few choice modifications can transform the M235i. There’s no doubting that the M235i is a wonderful pocket rocket but it doesn’t take a huge amount of work to turn it into an M2-baiting super coupé. Words: Bob Harper. Photography: Gus Gregory.

    As I’m blasting back and forth along one of Northamptonshire’s most excellent stretches of road I can’t help but think that in some respects the 2 Series Coupé reminds me of the venerable E30 3 Series. It’s small (relatively speaking) and feels lithe and eager when attacking a favourite piece of road. Obviously things have changed dramatically during the 30 years that separates the cars, but I can still detect the essence of the E30 in the 2 Series – BMW might have rolled out the old 2002 when it was launching the M235i, but for me there are more parallels to be drawn with the second generation 3 Series.

    And like the iconic E30 the new 2 Series Coupé seems to be attracting the attention of the tuning companies just like the E30 did back in the day. Virtually not a day goes by without an email dropping into the BMW Car inbox announcing the arrival of another new tuning product for the car, and there are no prizes for guessing which model is firmly in the centre of the tuner’s spotlight. Yup, the M235i is the weapon of choice and with prices for used examples now down to around the £20k mark owners can cherry pick a few tuning products and end up with a machine that’s every bit as quick and as entertaining as the new M2 but for half the price. Yes, it won’t have the attitude that the M2’s wide-arched styling brings to the party, but if you prefer to pass under the radar than be the centre of attention then that’s no bad thing.

    Mike Hodder who heads up Motech Performance has been involved with the BMW tuning market for probably more years than he cares to remember and like the 2 Series his roots go back to the days of the E30. His previous development mule was an E92 M3 and when we sampled it back in the October 2016 issue we found that his few simple upgrades had helped to bring out a little bit more from the already pretty effective M3. And while he was a big fan of the M235i straight out of the box he felt that he could apply his years of tuning experience to the newest pocket rocket to make it a real world friendly fun machine – one that could just as easily be used on the daily commute as well as coming alive when clipping apices on your favourite ribbon of back road.


    Thus he didn’t want to go too extreme with any of the work he was going to do on the M235i and after years of experience in the tuning world he feels that the majority of his customers want something that’s pretty straightforward and once fitted can more or less be forgotten about. Fully adjustable suspension set ups are all well and good and might have plenty of showroom appeal, but how many owners actually carry out those adjustments once the kit’s been fitted? Thus Mike decided to cherry pick some of the best products on the market, add a frisson of Hodder, and then package them up as a kit that can be fitted to an M235i (or M135i or the latest M140i and M240i).

    Thus what we have here is the full works, the M400 set up, but for owners not wanting to go the whole hog just about everything included in the M400 package can also be spec’d individually. While the M235i isn’t exactly lacking in power and performance if you’re looking at endowing the car with M2-rivalling pace you’re going to need to extract a little bit more from the turbocharged straight-six and the first step on the ladder for the M400 is a Remus Powerizer.

    This is a plug-and-play module that plugs into the M235i’s engine wiring harness and can run different states of tune. Mike finds that most people just leave it alone once fitted and while he knows there are other products on the market that give you greater functionality and more options he finds that the vast majority of his customers prefer the simplicity of the Powerizer. This is combined with a Pipercross freeflow air filter and a Forge Motorsport hard pipe and boost kit and a Forge front-mount intercooler.

    To ensure the last bit of efficiency is wrought from the engine a Remus turbo back exhaust system is fitted and for those of you who aren’t overly familiar with the company it’s safe to say that it’s one of Europe’s leading brands and you might be surprised to learn that its systems are OE fit to many performance cars. Like most quality set ups it’s tuned to provide an unobtrusive soundtrack when cruising yet will properly sing when the engine’s extended. What you can’t see in the pictures are the bespoke Eibach springs that have been fitted to the car. While Eibach obviously supply a huge range of off the shelf components Mike took advantage of Eibach’s new product line that’s available to its dealers called Private Label. This kit is based on a Pro-kit, and dealers can have their own Private Label kit which is to their specification but made by Eibach, so for Mike’s set up he’s gone for a greater suspension drop than that already offered by Eibach (25mm at the front and 20mm at the rear) but the progressive rate springs have also been designed to offer a comfortable ride as well as improved handling. Mike could have had the springs painted in a myriad of different colours but in the end he opted to go for a similar shade to the #BMW factory look and the only way you’d know by looking at the springs that these aren’t factory is the discreet Motech logo and part number.

    This particular example of the #BMW-M235i was an exdealer demonstrator and had been treated to a raft of BMW M Performance upgrades prior to Mike purchasing the car and all the official BMW styling does look good, from the lower front spoiler to the forged rims to the rear carbon spoiler and the carbon mirror caps it looks suitably purposeful and aggressive. Mike’s not a fan of run-flats so has ditched these in favour of some Yokohama Advan Sport tyres. Inside it’s more or less as BMW intended bar a great-to-the-touch alcantara-clad M Performance steering wheel, pedal set and some carbon-effect trim.

    The whole package looks very alluring as we’re shooting the statics and details at the nearby Sywell Aerodrome but I’m itching to drive the car so we head off to our favourite back roads in the area to see how it fares. The quick dash up the A14 confirms that none of the Motech upgrades have spoiled the everyday usability of the car. It’s a quick dual carriageway and cruising at the legal limit the exhaust’s perfectly muted and the ride’s firm but nicely compliant.

    Once we’re on the back roads we can have a proper play and it only takes a few flexes of the right ankle to have my VW Passat company car that’s acting as photoshoot support vehicle disappearing to a small dot in the M235i’s rear view mirror. Despite the bright skies it’s bitterly cold and the roads are still slick with moisture but the M235i takes all in its stride, the Yokohamas clinging on manfully as we up the speed as we become confident in the car’s abilities.


    There’s no doubting that there’s plenty of performance on offer and while quick getaways from a standstill will have the traction control light flickering demonically thanks to the ambient conditions the tyres soon find grip and the M235i’s hurtling off up the road like a scalded cat. Now we’re using more of the revs more of the time the Remus exhaust joins the party and it sounds glorious, singing away as the revs rise and eliciting a nice ‘barrumph’ on the overrun or as you swap cogs. It goads you on to try a little harder on each pass for the camera and I soon get into a rhythm with the car that’s deeply satisfying. Sometimes doing repeated runs for the camera can be a tedious affair, but this time I’m almost disappointed when snapper Gus raises his hand to say that’s enough as far as he’s concerned.

    The Private Label Motech/Eibach springs have proved very effective too, the lower centre of gravity helping the car to corner with a flatter attitude and while the ride can get a little jiggly at times when traversing really rough sections it handles dips and crests in the road very well and the set up proves to be very linear in its responses so you always know how the car is going to react. This inspires plenty of confidence and we’d say that between Motech and Eibach they’ve more or less got this set up spot on. As we head back to base we have one last banzai run on the B roads and the M400 gels together to dole out barrel loads of fun before we hit the more populated roads for our cruise back to base. It’s a job well done by Motech and has hit the duality of purpose nail of everyday usability with back road entertainment possibilities squarely on the head and proves that just like the good old E30 fun can come in small packages.

    CONTACT: Motech Performance / Tel: 01604 810000 / Web: www.motechperfomance.co.uk

    THANKS TO: Sywell Aerodrome / Tel: 01604 491112 / Web: www.sywellaerodrome.co.uk

    Now we’re using more of the revs more of the time the Remus exhaust joins the party and it sounds glorious, singing away as the revs rise.

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Motech-M400 / #Motech / #BMW-F22 / #BMW-M235i / #BMW-M235i-F22 / #Motech-M400-F22 / #BMW-M235i-Motech-F22 / #BMW-2-Series / #BMW-2-Series-F22 / #BMW-2-Series-Coupe / #BMW-2-Series-Coupe-F22 / #BMW-M235i-Motech-M400/ #2017

    ENGINE: straight-six, 24-valve
    MAX POWER: 380hp
    MODIFICATIONS
    • Remus powerzier
    • Remus cat back with gloss black tips and carbon insets.
    • Pipercross panel filter
    • Forge hard pipe and boost kit
    • Forge Motorsport front mount intercooler
    • 12mm TPI wheel spacers
    • Eibach/Motech springs -25mm (front), -20mm (rear)
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    Fun Factory AC Schnitzer M240i tested. AC Schnitzer works its magic on the wonderful M240i Coupé. AC Schnitzer has taken one of BMW’s finest cars, injected it with an additional dose of adrenalin and the result is an exceedingly impressive miniature missile. Words and photography: Steve Hall.

    Here at BMW Car, we’re huge fans of the M240i, which is no surprise really considering the level of affection we developed for the M235i, which like any good relationship, just got better the more time we spent in its company. Handsome, compact coupé, powerful sonorous engine up front driving the rear wheels; it’s a recipe that would be difficult to get wrong with such good base ingredients.

    So 2016’s enhancements, which arrived when the 235 became the 240, were only ever going to deepen our desire for it. Adding 14hp and 37lb ft to a model which wasn’t exactly slow off the mark (that torque figure matches the M2) only serves to demonstrate what a fabulous engine the B58 is, combining more performance than the M235i’s BMW-N55 with greater efficiency, all the while allowing the driver to enjoy the – now unique in this class – pulsating straight-six music rendered by the B58’s machinations. At £36k it’s a hard package to beat.

    It’d be fair to say we’re fans of Schnitzer too. We realise this won’t come as a shock. With an expansive (and expanding) range we’ve had plenty cause to visit Aachen this year, and are consistently left thumbing our dictionary looking for new superlatives to sprinkle into our road test assessments. It’s on a fine run of form, hitting that sweet spot that can prove the downfall of other tuners; delivering an OEM standard of quality in a package that offers tangible benefits. So dispatching an M240i to the Schnitzer skunkworks should result in a very special package…

    Our final trip to Aachen of the year may be cold, but the forecast is bright and sunny. And with the whole day devoted to this shoot we’ve plenty of time to get to know the ACS2 4.0i. So it's a good thing our guide for the day did some diligent research (thanks Mario!) and has found some terrific roads for us to play on; one stretch in particular snaking its way along, then up a tree-lined mountain – the kind of road you imagine local petrolheads carving their way up and down in the quiet hours.

    This being Germany, we have a good few kilometers of autobahn to blast down before we reach black top more akin to a British B road (okay, with a significantly better surface) and some towns along the way to explore every facet of the ACS2’s performance and dynamics. First though, lets take in some details, starting with the element which will most irk M2 owners; the small matter of an additional 60hp and 75lb ft of torque…

    There has been much forum debate about the performance of the M240i vs the M2, given that the bona fide M car has 30hp more, identical torque and 30kg more weight. Factor in the M240i’s narrower shape and less aggressive aero and it’s easy to see why separating the junior car’s straight line performance would take a stopwatch marked in thousandths of seconds, and it’s debatable which car the exercise would favour. After Schnitzer has worked its magic, the stopwatch can safely be dispatched as the sheer thunderous energy the ACS2 demonstrates in the mid-range leaves you in no doubt: an M2 would be easy meat. With power and torque curves much the same as the standard car, power delivery mirrors the M240i – mid-range grunt swells as soon as 2000rpm is registered, by 4000rpm we’re really motoring, and the straight-six happily rips round to its 7000rpm redline with increasing vigour. But that 75lb ft of extra shove makes its presence felt everywhere, whilst the additional power sees the final flourish to the redline take the ACS2 into very senior company.

    Schnitzer realise the extra horses with its tried and tested method of an additional control box which (as with last month’s M3-based ACS3 Sport) sits atop the existing ECU and manipulates the controls to allow an increase in boost pressure, whilst being easily and invisibly reversible. That Schnitzer backs this with its own two-year warranty speaks volumes for the thoroughness of its testing programme. It explains why its claimed power figures are consistently backed up in independent testing, which isn’t something that can be said for every tuned car on the market…

    There’s a typical thoroughness to the Schnitzer approach in every element of the ACS2; the aesthetic updates address one of the few areas where criticism could be levelled at the M240i, and gives the 2 Series visual attitude to back up its performance. Not so much wolf in wolf’s clothing (that’s left to the M2), but for some there’s not enough to differentiate 218i from an M240i – not so with ACS2. The M240i’s demure aesthetic could be considered a selling point, but we think Schnitzer has struck a terrific balance by dressing the 2 Series in a smattering of high quality carbon trim pieces to complement its signature fivespoke AC1 forged alloys and the lowered ride height. As befits the Schnitzer way, many of these confer subtle aerodynamic improvements have been verified in the wind tunnel. The differences may be marginal, but when you’re driving a 400hp coupé on a road devoid of speed limits, any added high-speed stability is a welcome addition.

    Stability is aided by the Schnitzer suspension package which sits the ACS2 45mm and 50mm (front and rear respectively) closer to the ground, and waives the adaptive dampers in favour of a passive system which is mechanically adjustable in bump and rebound. The factory setup is so well judged, we doubt many will utilise the adjustment, but it’s nice to know it’s there. Some may be surprised at the omission of a locking differential even as an option, but in reality the few who would really make use of such an option are well served by some of the wilder Schnitzer products; and as we will see, this doesn’t stop the ACS2 being an absolute blast to drive on the right roads…


    Thoroughly warmed up from our sojourn through the suburbs, we join the autobahn with the ACS2 ready to demonstrate the full extent of its straight-line performance. There’s a few kilometres of built-up ‘bahn to negotiate before the derestricted sign hoves into view, during which the #BMW-M2-AC-Schnitzer-ACS2-F87 proves itself just as adept as any 2 Series Sport at low speed cruising.

    We leave the speed limit behind primed in third gear and take the opportunity to indulge in what seems to be a popular past-time in Germany – full bore acceleration when entering derestricted zones.

    It’s something the ACS2 4.0i is extremely well equipped for, punching hard with acceleration seemingly unabated as we charge through fourth and fifth gears. Unfortunately, it’s a bit too busy to explore the upper reaches of the speed spectrum, but the point is made – you’re going to need an M3 to stay in touch.

    We’re now on the roads I’d really been looking forward to. Roads which play well to the 2 Series’ compact size. We’re rolling on Continental Winter- Contact tyres, which may rob the ACS2 of the final percentile of precision, but do nothing to detract from the sweet balance innate to the chassis. All of the usual M240i traits are in situ, with the volume turned up to 11. There’s more precision, more control and more grip to manage the extra performance and on this road, winding its way up the hill interspersing 180 degree switchbacks with short straights, the ACS2 is indulgent fun. Traction proves surprisingly good, but with 443lb ft underfoot it’s easy to overwhelm the rear tyres at will – at which point the #ACS2 remains a faithful, enjoyable folly. Buoyed by the crackle of the Schnitzer Sport exhaust, I take a few more runs up and down the hill than necessary; it’s that kind of car on this kind of road…

    But then, what else were we expecting? The marriage of Schnitzer’s talents and the M240i make for a five star car; of course they do. Every element of potential critique in the M240i has been addressed, so you have a more visually alluring package that sounds better, goes better and is a more pleasing place to sit thanks to the array of Schnitzer interior trim parts. And whilst we understand that the cosmetics are not to everybody’s taste, if we were to pick and choose, the performance and chassis elements are absolutely worth having, taking the M240i on to a level of performance and driving enjoyment to worry an M2.


    CONTACT: AC Schnitzer UK
    Tel: 01485 542000 Web: www.ac-schnitzer.co.uk AC Schnitzer (Germany)
    Tel: +49 (0) 241 5688130
    Web: www.ac-schnitzer.de

    All of the usual M240i traits are in situ, with the volume turned up to 11. There’s more precision, more control and more grip to manage the extra performance

    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #AC-Schnitzer-ACS2-4.0i-Coupé / #ACS2-4.0i-Coupé / #AC-Schnitzer-M240i / #2017 / #BMW-F22 / #BMW-M240i-Coupé / #BMW-M240i-Coupé-F22 / #BMW-M240i-F22 / #BMW / #AC-Schnitzer-ACS2-4.0i-Coupé-F22 / #AC-Schnitzer-F22 / #BMW-2-Series / #BMW-2-Series-F22 / #BMW-2-Series-Coupe / #BMW-2-Series-Coupe-F22 / #BMW-M240i-AC-Schnitzer / #BMW-M240i-AC-Schnitzer-F22 / #AC-Schnitzer / #ACS2-F22 /

    ENGINE: Twin-scroll turbo, straight-six, 24-valve / #BMW-N55 / #N55 / #N55-AC-Schnitzer /
    CAPACITY: 2998cc
    MAX POWER: 400hp @ 6000rpm
    MAX TORQUE: 443lb ft @ 3000rpm
    0-62MPH: 4.6 seconds
    50-120MPH: 8.6 seconds
    TOP SPEED: 155mph (limited)

    MODIFICATIONS:

    ENGINE: AC Schnitzer performance upgrade (additional control unit) AC Schnitczer engine optics
    ENGINE: AC Schnitzer tailpipe, Sport black
    WHEELS AND TYRES: AC Schnitzer AC1 BiColour wheels, 8.5x19-inches (front and rear) with 235/35 R19 Continental WinterContact tyres all-round
    SUSPENSION: AC Schnitzer ‘Racing’ package, lowered 45mm at the front and 50mm at the rear, adjustable bump and rebound
    STYLING: AC Schnitzer carbon front spoiler elements, upper rear spoiler, carbon rear spoiler, carbon fibre wing mirror covers, rear skirt protection film
    INTERIOR: AC Schnitzer aluminium pedal set and footrest, handbrake handle, key holder and floor mats

    The thunderous energy the #AC-Schnitzer-ACS2 demonstrates in the mid-range leaves you in no doubt: an M2 would be easy meat.
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    / #BMW-X1 and #BMW-2-Series earn ‘Top Safety Pick’ / 2017 / #BMW-X1-F48 / #BMW-X1-F49 / #BMW-F49 / #BMW-F48 / #BMW


    The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in the USA has named the #2017 X1 and 2017 2 Series a ‘Top Safety Pick’, continuing BMW’s long-standing commitment to offering class-leading safety with each new model. In order to earn the ‘ #Top-Safety-Pick ’ title a car must receive good ratings in five different crash tests covering small overlap front, moderate overlap front, side, roof strength and head restraints, among other considerations.
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    AC Schnitzer M2 / #ACS2-Sport / #AC-Schnitzer-ACS2-Sport / #AC-Schnitzer-ACS2 / #BMW-F87 / #BMW-M2 / #BMW-M2-F87 / #BMW / #BMW-2-Series / #BMW-2-Series-F87 / #2016 /

    ENGINE 3.0-litre straight-six #N55B30 / #BMW-N55 / #N55 / #BMW / #BMW-2-Series-Coupe / #BMW-2-Series-Coupe-F87 / #BMW-M2-AC-Schnitzer-ACS2 / #BMW-M2-AC-Schnitzer / #BMW-M2-AC-Schnitzer-F87 / #BMW-M2-AC-Schnitzer-ACS2-F87 / #BMW-2-Series-AC-Schnitzer / #AC-Schnitzer / #AC-Schnitzer-M2 /


    AC Schnitzer has revealed its full tuning programme for the M2 featuring a range of upgrades for BMW’s pocket rocket. A power upgrade is a given, and Schnitzer has extracted another 50hp from the turbocharged ‘six to give 420hp. This can be combined with Schnitzer’s upgraded chargecooler to provide a sustained, smooth power delivery.

    To ensure that it sounds as well as it goes Schnitzer has added a Sport silencer system complete with valve control with a choice of two different tailpipe trims. Fine handling is assured thanks to Schnitzer’s RS coilover setup which is fully height adjustable (30-40mm lower) and also features adjustable compression and rebound settings. For those wanting a less extreme setup there’s also a spring kit for the car, too.

    Exterior styling comprises a lower front spoiler extension, carbon front wing canards, a carbon rear diffuser and mirror covers and a choice of either a discreet rear lip spoiler or a rather more extreme ‘Racing’ rear spoiler. There are a variety of rims available in either 19- or 20-inch fitments including the forged AC1 in BiColour or matt anthracite. Type V and Type VIII wheels can also be specified, too. For further information and pricing contact AC Schnitzer.

    Contact: AC Schnitzer UK: www.ac-schnitzer.co.uk or AC Schnitzer Germany: www.ac-schnitzer.de
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    THE SECOND COMING

    Can the M2 deliver the same sheer driving thrills as the 1M? There’s only one way to find out… The 1M rocked everyone’s world and now the M2 has descended from the heavens to deliver the people from mid-range performance mediocrity Words: Elizabeth de Latour /// Photos: #BMW

    When it was launched back in 2011, the 1M cost about £40,000; now, five years on, a 1M costs around… £40,000. That tells you pretty much everything you need to know about how popular the limited production hot coupé was, and still is.

    While BMW ended up producing rather a lot more cars than the 2700 it initially planned on, with a total of 6309 examples sold worldwide in the end, there were just 450 right-hand drive examples, which is at least part of the reason why second-hand prices remain so incredibly high. The other reason is that it was an absolutely awesome car; the press went mad for it, with praise being heaped on the car for delivering a driving experience akin to the E30 M3, albeit in a more modern guise. The 1M was snapped up by performance-hungry punters, delivered thrills to the chosen few and then it left us, and left us wanting. The 135i was good and the M135i and M235i, now the M140i and M240i, were even better but none of them delivered the same full-on, whiteknuckle driving experience that only a fullyfledged M car can. But now, all that changes with the arrival of the M2.

    First impressions couldn’t be better. It looks absolutely awesome, especially finished in lush and lustrous Long Beach blue, and I actually came out of the office to find one of my colleagues humping the back end of the test car we had in. Genuinely. The styling is on point, with those pumped up arches giving it an almost cartoonishly wide stance. Then you’ve got that swoopy and super aggressive front bumper, the surprisingly good-looking wheels and those shiny quad pipes at the back. It’s not the last word in finesse or delicacy, but it looks so right. The interior, nice as it is, has been singled out by pretty much everyone as a source of disappointment, and, sadly, we have to agree. It looks and feels good but what it doesn’t feel is special; the seats are identical to those in any 1 or 2 Series M Sport model, as is the steering wheels and gear knob. In fact, that only things that set the M2 apart from its lesser brethren are the suede gear knob gaiter and the interior trim, and that’s it. The seats are comfy and grippy, the steering wheel is the perfect size and the gear knob, so reminiscent of the E46 Sport’s example, fits perfectly in the palm of your hand, but, aside from the M2 logo that flashes up on the instrument cluster display when you get into the car, there’s nothing to remind you that you’ve just splashed out £45,000 on what’s meant to be a full-blown M car.

    It’s not a deal breaker, though. Fire up the M2 and it barks into life with a pleasing flourish of noise from those quad pipes and the noisy cold idle gives way to a more neighbour-friendly purr once the engine has warmed up. Noise plays a big part of the buying/owning/driving experience for any car enthusiast and here the M2 excels; where the switch from V8 to straight-six resulted in the F8x M3 and M4 sounding loud, blaring and angry but not especially sexy or alluring, the six-cylinder soundtrack is the perfect fit for the M2. The volume level is spot-on: it’s quieter than the S55 in the M3 and M4, but the engine and exhaust notes also sound more natural and pleasant as a result. It’s a lovely straight-six howl, well-rounded and, based on the soundtrack, you’d be hard-pressed to tell it was turbocharged if you didn’t know.


    For the M2, BMW has turned the wick up on the single-turbo N55 further still and it’s now putting out the sort of power and torque levels you’d expect from a remapped 35i. It now makes 370hp and 343lb ft of torque, 369 on overboost, enough for a 0-62 sprint of 4.5 seconds for the manual and 4.3 seconds for DCT-equipped cars, and the top speed is obviously limited to 155mph. The engine is very strong in the mid-range, with a big hit of torque right where you want it, but it loves to rev and to get the best out of it you really need to take each gear right to the upper reaches of the rev range.

    It never feels poop-your-pants fast, despite its impressive and, let’s not forget, E9x M3-beating-on-paper acceleration figures, but it’s as fast as you’d ever need a car to be and there’s no situation where you’ll find yourself wishing you had more power. It’s not as fast as the F8x M3 or M4, which feel ballistic, but with less power it’s actually better to drive.

    Firstly, and quite importantly, it delivers a far more analogue driving experience than most modern machinery; there’s no variable steering, no adjustable damping, no multiple modes and settings that need to be explored and examined before you can actually start driving the thing. The only thing you need to do is put it in Sport mode to sharpen up the throttle response, then decide how much traction control you want and you’re ready.

    Where the M3 and M4 struggle with traction even in ideal conditions, the M2 has no such trouble and, full-throttle first gear launches aside, it puts the power down without any fuss. It also flows beautifully when piloted along a fast, empty stretch of Tarmac and delivers real driving thrills, the sort that get your heart pumping and spread a broad grin across your face. It also feels incredibly planted; the suspension is firm, yes, but it’s incredibly well damped and is never upset by bumps and undulations in the road. It feels like it’s really attached to the road rather than about to go skipping off into a hedge when the going gets rough. The M2 is a really good car. It looks and feels fantastic to drive, is as quick as you could ever want a car to be, sounds good, delivers genuine driving thrills and does it all whilst costing over £10k less than an M4 and delivering a better driving experience. It really is about as good as it gets.


    TECHNICAL DATA FILE #BMW-F87 / #BMW-M2 / #BMW-M2-F87 / #BMW / #BMW-2-Series / #BMW-2-Series-F87 / #2016 /
    ENGINE 3.0-litre straight-six #N55B30 / #BMW-N55 / #N55 / #BMW / #BMW-2-Series-Coupe
    TRANSMISSION Six-speed manual, optional seven-speed #M-DCT / #DCT / #BMW-DCT /
    WEIGHT (EU) 1570kg (1595*)
    MAX POWER 370hp @ 6500rpm
    MAX TORQUE 343 (369) lb ft @ 1400-5560rpm
    0-62MPH 4.5 (4.3*)
    TOP SPEED 155mph (limited)
    EMISSIONS (CO²) 199g/km (185*)
    FUEL ECONOMY (MPG) 33.2 (35.8*)
    PRICE (OTR) £44,070
    (*) denotes M DCT transmission


    “It looks absolutely awesome especially finished in lush Long Beach blue”
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