The BMW 2-series adopted new model nomenclature and more powerful engine options for the 2017 model year, changes that improved an already enjoyable package and helped the M240i (and M2) version win another 10Best Cars award. For 2018, BMW didn’t want to mess with a good thing, so the 230i and M240i coupes and convertibles receive only minor alterations to the interior, exterior lighting, and available appearance options. The M2 continues as a coupe only. And, yes, the manual transmission lives to see another year.
The 2-series is one of BMW’s best-driving cars, thanks to a compact package and exquisite chassis tuning. Both the 230i and M240i come standard with an eight-speed automatic transmission with paddle shifters and rear-wheel drive but can be ordered with xDrive all-wheel drive regardless of body style. A six-speed manual transmission is a no-cost option available on all but the 230i convertible, including models with xDrive.
Propelling the 230i is a 2.0-liter turbocharged 2.0-liter inline-four that makes 248 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque. The M240i gets its grunt from a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline-six that makes 335 horsepower and 369 lb-ft of torque, the latter available from 1520 to 4500 rpm. Both engines feature twin-scroll turbos, direct injection, variable intake-valve lift, and variable valve timing. Last year’s M240i with the automatic hit 60 mph in 4.3 seconds in our testing, and BMW says it’ll run to 155 mph. Nothing significant has changed, so we expect it will perform as well as ever.
At a glance, the interior on the 2018 models could easily be mistaken for carryover, but closer inspection reveals some changes. New materials lend it a fresh vibe, as BMW removed the inserts that divided the sweeping dashboard into layers and replaced them with a longitudinal piece that surrounds the center HVAC vents and extends above the glovebox. Metal accents outline that piece and the side air vents, while black high-gloss plastic replaces the formerly matte black center-console surround.
The glove compartment cover has a new flush design, the cup holders add a sliding cover, and the window buttons get chrome accents. Gloss black trim is standard for the 2-series, with aluminum and wood accents available as options. The cabin tech has been upgraded as well, with a redesigned instrument panel and BMW’s newest iDrive 6.0 interface for the infotainment system, which features a standard 6.6-inch center touchscreen (or an 8.8-inch optional one). That’s right: Touching the screen now is a thing. It’s not all down to the dial on the console.
There are no changes to major body panels, but redesigned headlights and a tweaked front fascia create a slightly different impression. Within a headlight surround that’s the same as last year’s, standard hexagonal open LEDs replace closed circular units. The 2-series’ gaze looks locked in with a slanted stripe across the top, and the 230i…