A green guy's take on a normal car: The 2017 BMW M240i

A sensible Eco Pro mode makes this lively 2 Series fun to drive slow.

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The BMW M240i isn't a car that one would categorize as green. It's a slightly more civilized sibling to the M2, and, as is appropriate, the focus is on performance. It's exceptionally fun to drive, and making full use of the turbo-six is pure joy.

Even so, BMW decided to include its EfficientDynamics technology in this fiery sports coupe, which includes a mild hybrid system with automatic stop-start and an clutched alternator that runs mostly during coasting. It also includes a more economical drive mode called Eco Pro, which seems like the sort of feature that would go largely unused by a fair number of owners of this lively Bimmer. As the resident green dork here at Autoblog, it seemed only proper, though, to give the M240i's eco features their due attention.

At the top of the list is probably the automatic stop-start, as it's usually the first to rear its head once you're behind the wheel. In this car, it's definitely noticeable when this potent engine starts up again, but it does do swiftly, and I never felt the urge to turn stop-start off completely.

The green highlight, though, is the Eco Pro mode, selectable from the same toggle you'd use to choose the more aggressive Sport modes. In Eco Pro, the 2 Series gets a fair bit slower. Throttle response is dimmer, making it a lot easier to drive smoother and more conservatively, especially when accelerating away from a stop. In a lot of vehicles, this means that no matter how hard you step on the right pedal, your acceleration is governed. While that's great for saving gas, it's less than ideal when you need to pull out into a small hole in traffic when turning onto a busy street, or when the semi you're passing decides to move into your lane. Mercifully in the BMW, pushing the pedal past its gate overrides the Eco mode's throttle limitations and allows you to make those (potentially life-or-death) maneuvers at a second's notice. You also don't need to switch to a more aggressive mode to make that turn into high-speed traffic.

The car includes a convenient coaching tool that is also refreshingly non-invasive, clear, and simple. It's just a little bar (or slight arc, if we want to get specific) along the bottom of the tachometer. A little slider shows, vaguely, how much power you're using or how much energy you're regenerating. The whole bar turns grey when you're not driving efficiently, and back to blue when you are. Additionally, it gives you a readout between the gauges that shows how much added range you've earned by driving like a good boy. That simple approach, with an easily understood quantifier, makes your smoothness on the pedal feel like it has real world results.

In our drive, we turned on Eco Pro mode about halfway home, and managed to rack up an extra 0.6 miles of driving range over a short distance. The next morning, one quick rip down a rural road killed 0.3 miles of that range. Over the next 30 or so miles, though, we got that figure back up to 3.0 miles of earned range by taking it a little easier on the throttle and minding the tips on the instrument cluster.

Besides the grey/blue bar, there are just a few other coaching alerts in Eco Pro mode. It'll give you an icon to cue you to ease off the accelerator if you're driving too aggressively. It'll tell you to lower your speed, but you can customize that limit in the settings. The only other icon we saw show up next to power/charge meter was one to let me know to move the shift lever back to D, as pushing it over into M/S disables stop-start. (Our test vehicle came with the eight-speed automatic transmission, which takes some of the complication of trying to drive economically out of the equation.) It's all subtle but useful.

Beyond choosing the speed at which the car will suggest you slow down, in the setting menu you can also turn off the energy-saving function for the climate control in Eco Pro mode, or toggle "Coasting" on and off. There wasn't a noticeable difference in comfort when the car governed the climate control, nor any palpable change in driving dynamics when letting the car choose when to freewheel. If you live in the desert, you may find that climate option useful. In winter driving, Autoevolution points out, Eco Pro helps reduce wheelspin (from the less-lively throttle), but you'll want to untick the Coasting box in the snow. We didn't get any winter weather during our time with the M240i to test these recommendations, but it's nice that BMW gives owners the option to choose. For the rest of us, go ahead and pick your speed preference, but, otherwise, the car knows best.

Whether or not most owners will even use the Eco Pro mode on a car like the BMW M240i, we're glad it's there. It gives us greenies something extra to play with, and BMW's execution makes it actually worthwhile and quantitatively rewarding to use. Although it doesn't make it a green car, Eco Pro is entertaining in its own right and provides a fun way to save some gas when it's not appropriate to take full advantage of the car's sporting chops. The fact that the car will still spring to life when quick reflexes are demanded is a wonderful thing, too. It may mean that it gulps a few extra sips of fuel here and there, but to have that power at the ready, regardless of mode, is the reasonable thing to do.

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