The M2 made a big name for itself when it first arrived, so how does this latest version get on? Jack Evans finds out.
The original M2 was an absolute smash hit for BMW. Its success lay in its simplicity; this was a car with a powerful engine up front, drive to the rear wheels and not an awful lot of weight in the middle. It followed a time-honoured performance coupe recipe and, funnily enough, it struck a chord with buyers the world over.
But how do you go about repeating that success? Well, if you’re BMW, you try to finesse the formula without changing it up too much. We’re checking out how this new M2 tackles the road.
There remains a distinct lack of hybridisation with this M2 and, in fact, it’s a departure from the wider BMW direction. From this point, we’re likely to see future M cars equipped with some form of electrification, so you could argue that this M2 is the last of the breed. Still, as a celebration, it works with the M2’s powertrain setup being ‘classic’ BMW and one which has featured in all manner of the firm’s most iconic sports cars.
It remains relatively compact, just as its predecessor was, but you could argue that BMW has seen fit to make the M2 a little more grown up than before through the use of higher-end materials. It’s still a dedicated coupe, mind you, and for now, you can’t get it in other specifications. The previous car famously came in Competition flavour shortly after it was initially released.
BMW has kept a similar setup in the engine department, too. There’s still a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six petrol under the bonnet, but you’re now getting 454bhp – considerably more than the 404bhp you’d get in the old M2 Competition. Torque remains the same, however, at 550Nm.
Purists will rejoice at the continuation of a six-speed manual gearbox option, though our test car came with the eight-speed automatic. Zero to 60mph comes in just 3.9 seconds and you’ll carry on to a top speed of 150mph – or 177mph if you pick the optional M Race Track package. Efficiency isn’t too bad for this type of vehicle, either, with BMW claiming up to 29.1mpg (we saw over 30mpg during our time with the car) alongside CO2 emissions of 220g/km.
This latest M2 does feel immediately more urgent than its predecessor. The power delivery is brawny and constant, while the accompanying exhaust note has a pleasantly metallic finish to it. We did find, however, that in its sportiest settings, the M2’s throttle does feel quite ‘snatchy’ – so you tend to leave it in more comfort-focused modes when you’re driving around town.
The grip levels are superb, however, and you can really lean on the M2 through the corners. There’s a good degree of road noise at speed – so motorway journeys are a little bit boomy – but the whole car overall feels more grown-up than the one it replaces. The reactions aren’t quite as immediate, but it is still huge fun.
The older M2 was a great example of how you can make something look purposeful without swelling its dimensions too much. The new M2, naturally, looks larger and a little chunkier, but it still gets plenty of attention out on the road. The kidney grilles aren’t as intricate as they are on the ‘regular’ M240i, but we do like the big, square arches that make the M2 quite chunky on the road.
However, it feels as though the M2 doesn’t quite have the same impact on the road as the M240i. We got a chance to see the two side-by-side and it felt as though the M240i’s design was just a little bit more finessed – but it’s all down to the individual, of course.
The cabin of the M2 is a really well-made place to be. For starters, the seating position is excellent – you can get the seat nice and low while there’s plenty of adjustability for the steering wheel too. It’s nice to see that there are plenty of high-quality materials, too, while the light-up ‘M’ colours in the door cards are a nice touch.
It’s a definite four-seater, too, but there’s actually a touch more room in the back than you might expect. The front seats are easy to fold forward and they slide automatically to make getting into the back a little easier. The 390-litre boot is also quite deep and square, so it’s got more than enough room for some weekend bags or shopping. It’ll even take a set of golf clubs.
This is a more grown-up M2 than before. Accomplished, that’s for sure, but it doesn’t feel quite as energetic – and almost youthful – as the car it replaces. However, that shouldn’t water down just how accomplished this car is, particularly when it comes to cornering ability.
A stronger engine makes the whole experience even better and you could argue that this will be a more useable everyday performance car as a result of the more mature driving style that it offers.