For many people, Tasmania has always been lauded as a special place. Special landscapes, special gastronomy, special culture… you know, special. But for a lot of those people, myself included, Tasmania has been left bottom of the priority list when it came to holiday destinations. With no real long weekend plans and a few flyer points up my sleeve, I decided to throw some things in my backpack and explore what i’d been told were some of the greatest drivers roads on the planet. But great driver’s roads require a great drivers car. Something with rear wheel drive, a well sorted chassis and most importantly, a manual gearbox. The car I listed with this great responsibility was the BMW M 240i.
The friendly crew at Hobart BMW Autohaus had the Estoril Blue beauty ready on arrival but I wasn’t in a rush, so I decided to take in the details of the little sports coupe. Ferric grey mirror caps, dark chrome exhaust finishes, 18” M light alloys.. the 240i shows glimpses of its sports capabilities but the touches are subtle. Inside the cabin shares the same understated aesthetic, my model featured the optional Alcantara cloth trim which was a tasteful ode to the racing cars we know and love which were tastefully integrated to that textbook minimalist interior. The M 240i is scattered with tasteful finishes and attractive details though it doesn’t make a song and dance about it, as I was soon to find out, it leaves that to the road.
The first drive of my semi-targa Tasmania route was the much-praised Lyell highway. 248km of twisty road along the west coast ranges and enough technical variety to keep even the best of drivers honest. The 3.0 turbo 6 made short work of the steep hill climbs thanks to it’s generous 500Nm of torque. And it’s 250kW of M power provided ample zip from hairpin to hairpin. The auto blipping took a little getting used to, but overall the gearbox and clutch feel was the right mix of precision and refinement. The engine and driveline of the M 240i took the Lyell highway with both hands and while there was little margin for error, the M sport brakes meant that you didn’t get two cable sized scratches down the side of the Bavarian beast.
Day two of the drive was spent exploring the valleys and forests through North Tasmania. Some overnight rain meant that the morning roads were a little slippery and with some questionable road surfaces thrown in the mix, it was a good test of the M 240i’s flexibility. The customizable sports mode meant that I could opt for a softer suspension set-up while maintaining a sharper drivetrain which was the perfect formula for some of the more challenging sequences with unforgiving undulations. But as soon as you got a stretch of fresh hot mix, it was back to the firmer ride and you got a true appreciation of what this car is really capable of. Pushing the coupe towards cradle mountain was entertaining to say the least. The short wheelbase provided a nimbleness that’s surprisingly rare in modern day cars, and with that much power at your disposal, there was constant flirting with the traction control.
After spending the night in a yard that resembled the crime scene from making of a murderer, I jumped back into my more refined chariot and headed east to the picturesque bay of fires and wine glass bay. As the public holiday traffic started to bunch, I was able to sample the M 240i in its daily driver suit. With the intuitive i-Drive system, Harmon Kardon audio and comfort drivetrain, you could easily forget this was the same car you were just hunting through the back country. Everything settled down nicely and I was able to absorb a little more of Tasmania’s stunning coastline. With the foldable rear seats, parking friendly wheelbase and adaptable dynamics, the coupe proved it could behave itself when asked nicely.
My final day in Tasmania came around far too quickly. But with two hours until drop off and some sunny skies emerging, I thought it was time for one last tango. The Huon road loop outside of Hobart provided the canvas and a sports plus engaged M 240i did the rest. An absence of traction control showcased the fantastic chassis balance and grip from the Michelin rubber. Apex to apex this car just kept delivering. The more it snarled the more I smiled, like some kind of symbiotic exchange, the last tango was, in fact, Hobart. This truly was one of those trips that exceeded some very high expectations. From the grand landscapes to the labyrinth of twisty roads, Tasmania surpassed my hopes. The M 240i is undeniably the great drivers car for the great drivers roads.