The BMW M2 is the entry point into the high performance M-badged BMW ownership. As the M3 coupe, now called the M4, has grown so much in size over the years, BMW saw the opportunity to slot in a smaller M coupe under the M4. To put it into perspective, the supposedly one-class down M2 is about the same size as the E36 M3 from the early 90s.
And what a move. We have always been longing for a lightweight, compact and powerful M car to fill the M3’s shoes before it went the path of maturity and here it is, a manic sports coupe that can be had without having to stretch over $100k.
There are many reasons to get excited about the M2 but the main one is because this car sends BMW’s M department back to its roots. If BMW models of late have compromised on driving dynamics for other things, the M2 is BMW back to the basics. The core attributes that define a sporty BMW M car – front engine, rear-wheel-drive and compact body – are back in the M2. Only this time, it is much more powerful.
Powered by a 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder engine featuring twin-scroll turbocharger, the M2 generates 272kW of power and 465Nm of torque, channeled to the rear wheels via a seven-speed dual clutch transmission (DCT). Purist can opt for the M2 Pure which has a six-speed manual with new carbon fibre friction lining and speed synchronization – a feature which automatically blips the throttle on downshifts and reduces engine speeds during upshifts.
The N55 engine in the M2 is a great unit. Yes, the S55 in the M4 makes more power with the same displacement but the M2’s donk feels livelier in the top end. And the power output feels just right for the size and weight of the car. There’s more than enough power to have a lot of fun but not too excessive until it feels overwhelming on the road.
Throttle response is excellent and it punches hard all the way to its 6,500 rpm cut off. The midrange is especially chubby and lag-free, with every up shifts dropping in the thick of the powerband. It sounds good too with a suitably aggressive and meaty roar when poked, but smooth and refined on cruise.
The powertrain enables the M2 to sprint from 0-100km/h in just 4.3 seconds when fitted with the M DCT, or 4.5 seconds with the six-speed manual gearbox, en route to a limited top speed of 250km/h.
Based on the 2 Series coupe body, the M2 sits lower and wider. The bulging wheel arches house suspension components borrowed from the M4, albeit re-calibrated specifically for the M2 to suit its lighter weight and shorter wheelbase.
The M2’s 19-inch alloy wheels are shod with a set of magnificent (and very expensive) Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres measuring 245/35 ZR 19s on the front and wide 265/35 ZR 19s on the rear.
Behind the taut stance is the usual array of M electronic gadgetry including M Sports Suspension, dual-mode Electric Power Steering, Active M Differential and specific M-tuned Dynamic Stability Control.
Put them to work on a stretch of twisty back roads, the M2 is as good as it gets for a fast coupe. Poised, precise and ever so predictable, the M2 is a star for roads like this. The highlight here is the chassis – neutral, balanced and brimming with communication. It responds to driver inputs with alacrity, and turn in with incredible grip. Its limits are no doubt very high, yet, you never feel you’re starved of its potentials. Unlike some other high-powered rear-drivers, where they let go suddenly at the rear, this is progressive.
And you drive the M2 the way you want it driven. Flat and tidy through the corners, not a problem. Kick its tail out for a bit of lunacy, it’ll do that as well. All very manageable, very fun. This is the sort of M attributes we got to know and used to like. Now it’s all back in the M2. Brilliant stuff.
Stopping performance is equally impressive and fade-free, thanks to high performance M compound brakes with blue painted four piston callipers at the front and two-piston callipers on the rear, acting on large 380mm front and 370mm rear perforated and vented cast iron discs.
The standard M Sport suspension is firm and you will feel it around town but it’s never harsh. Mid corner bumps are also never an issue.
It looks good, this thing. There’s a lot going on in the body work as it should for a sports car but it’s not messy and the overall design flows. Inside, it’s basically a top-spec 2 series coupe with a pair of heavily bolstered sport seats, Alcantara and carbon-fibre look trim, splashes of tricolour M stitching plus a few M badges dotted around the cabin. Seating position is great, so are ergonomics, topped off with solid German build quality.
You also get quite a lot of kit as standard including adaptive cruise control, rear-view camera, Bi-Xenon headlights, DAB+ digital radio, navigation system professional and tyre pressure monitor. Safety is taken care of by six airbags, Approach Control Warning, Lane Departure Warning, Pedestrian Warning, light city braking function and Attentiveness Assistant.
The BMW M2 is one of the best, if not the best M car ever made. This is a proper driver’s car with all the M qualities at its core, simple, pure and undistorted. You buy the M2 not because it’s the least expensive M model, but because it’s simply brilliant.
2017 BMW M2 pricing and specification
|Price (excluding on-roads):||M2 Pure $89,900|
|Warranty Customer Assistance:||1 year roadside|
|Country of Origin:||Germany|
|Engine:||3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six petrol: 272kW @ 6500rpm, 465Nm @ 1400-5560rpm|
|Transmission:||7-speed DCT / 6-speed manual|
|0-100km/h (seconds):||4.3 (DCT) / 4.5 (manual)|
|Combined Fuel Consumption (L/100km):||7.9 (claimed)|
|Ron Rating:||98 ULP|
|Fuel Capacity (L):||78|
|Body:||2 door coupe, 4 seats|
|Safety:||5-star ANCAP, 6 airbags, ABS, EBD, BA, DSC, tyre pressure monitor, rear view camera, parking sensor, lane keeping assistance, forward and pedestrian collision warning, adaptive cruise control.|
|Dimensions (L/W/H/W-B) mm:||4,468/1,854/1,410/2,693|
|Kerb Weight (kg):||1,520|
|Entertainment:||6.5-inch high definition display, Satellite Navigation, 12-speaker, Bluetooth, USB and AUX|
Competitors: Mercedes-AMG CLA 45, Audi RS 3