BMW'S M DIVISION HAS A REPUTATION FOR TURNING OUT MASTERFUL ROAD AND TRACK CARS. BUT IF YOU THINK THE 2016 BMW M2 MIGHT HAVE MISSED OUT ON SOMETHING OWING TO ITS SMALLER DIMENSIONS AND MUCH LOWER PRICE, THINK AGAIN.
The M2, with its bulging bodywork and wide, wide rubber, looks seriously imposing. And, with a set of mechanical components borrowed from the M3 and M4, it’s capable of devastating performance.
Really, all its missing compared to the M4 is a large chunk of its bigger brother's sticker price, but lacks nothing for tenacious grip and performance.
Vehicle Style: Two-door performance coupe
M2 Pure $89,900 (plus on-roads)
M2 $98,900 (plus on-roads)
Engine/trans: 272kW/465Nm 3.0 6cyl turbo petrol | 6sp manual, 7sp autometic
Fuel Economy claimed: 8.5 l/100km | Tested: 12.3 l/100km
That car was offered in strictly limited numbers, however the M2 is limited only by BMW’s production capacity (making ownership a far more democratic proposition).
And, in this generation, there are two models to choose from, the manual-only M2 Pure (and free of superfluous extras), or the more premium M2, with a choice of manual, or dual-clutch automatic transmission.
It is, no question, a performance benchmark in its class.
- M2 Pure: Leather trim, sports seats, dual zone climate control, trip computer, sports steering wheel with multi-function buttons, carbon fibre trim highlights, automatic headlights and wipers, cruise control with speed limiter, 19-inch alloy wheels
- M2: (in addition to Pure) Adaptive headlights with selective beam, proximity key, electrically adjustable front seats with seat heating
- Infotainment: 8.8-inch infotainment screen, iDrive controller, Bluetooth phone and audio, DAB+ digital radio, seven-speaker audio (Pure) or 12-speaker audio (M2), GoPro and M Laptimer app integration, satellite navigation, 20GB media hard drive, DVD drive
- Cargo volume: 390 litres
The changes inside the M2 are not as pronounced as the exterior revisions. Nonetheless, there’s the usual M touches like a fat-rimmed steering wheel, grippy sports seats, and plenty of M logos dotted about the cabin.
There are some specification levels of others in the 2 Series range where the interior somehow doesn’t live up to its premium aspirations, but in the no-nonsense M2 the interior fitout makes perfect sense.
Carbon-effect interior trims, leather seats with vibrant blue contrast stitching, and alcantara door inserts, offer the right performance feel - not to mention ergonomics that put pedal, steering wheel and gearshift exactly where you need them.
In the M2 Pure, you’ll find features like leather sports seats, dual-zone climate control, 8.8-inch iDrive infotainment with cool extras like connection to BMW’s lap-timing app, and in-car GoPro control, plus digital radio and seven-speaker audio.
Step up to the M2 and extra goodies like comfort access, electrically adjustable front seats with seat heating, adaptive headlights, alarm, and a 12-speaker Harman Kardon sound system are also bundled in.
As with the regular 2 Series coupe range there’s the practical business too: seating for four (but things are perhaps a little compact in the rear), and a 390 litre boot that can happily handle a weekend’s luggage with room to spare.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 272kW/465Nm (500Nm overboost) 3.0 litre turbocharged straight six
- Transmission: Six-speed manual, or seven-speed dual clutch automatic, rear wheel drive with Active M differential
- Suspension: M sports suspension - MacPherson strut front, five-link rear
- Brakes: Four-wheel vented cross drilled discs, 380mm front rotors, 370mm rear rotors
- Steering: Electrically assisted dual-mode power steering
So, vital statistics? How does 272kW of power at 6500rpm sound, or maybe 465Nm of torque from 1400 to 5560rpm is more your thing - that’s before the 500Nm overboost function too, of course.
That will rocket you from 0-100 km/h in 4.3 seconds with a DCT transmission; opt for the manual and you’ll get there in 4.5 seconds. For comparison-sake, the quickest you’ll do the same in an M4 is 4.1 seconds.
This is a seriously quick somewhat-small car.
While the turbocharged inline six - a version of the M235i’s engine, beefed up with pistons, rings, and dual-pickup sump from the M3 - is impressive, I t’s only part of the story.
The chassis components are similarly borrowed from the M3 and M4 to great effect.
The M2’s fatter stance really looks the business, but, more importantly, the wider tracks front and rear provide impressive stability. Push the car hard into a corner and that extra width results in incredible purchase on turn-in and flat, unshakeable cornering control.
Connected steering, loaded with feeling and feedback and engineered for crisp, immediate responses to driver inputs, is an absolute joy.
Suspension is of the fixed-damper variety, and while there’s no adaptive or adjustable set-up available, there’s little need for it.
Obviously, with sporting intent at the fore, the M2 delivers a firm ride, yet on public roads it is a surprisingly liveable proposition.
Putting all those elements together and putting the car through its paces at Sandown raceway reveals the real magic, and shows how complete and capable the M2 really is.
From the rumbling exhaust noise rolling out of pit lane, to the mad rush of acceleration that squeezes you back into your seat as you stand on the throttle, this M2 declares that it is no pretender.
Tip it into the first corner and the weight balance feels even, keeping the nose firmly attached to the tarmac, and almost entirely resistant to understeer.
Feed the throttle back in and the rush takes hold again. You’re aware of the huge torque being churned through the fat tyres, but the transition from grip to slip is eminently controllable.
Driver discretion decides if you’ll be making a fast exit, or a tyre-shredding drift.
There’s no weak point in the power delivery - from idle, all the way past the 6500 power peak and up until the rev limiter chimes in above 7000rpm, the 3.0 litre engine just gives its all.
If you select the DCT automatic you’ll be rewarded with red-hot gearshifts, instant responses to a tug on the steering wheel shift paddles, and a rewarding thump at each gear change under full throttle.
Manual buyers on the other hand, may not have the fastest car available, but hot-damn will they enjoy themselves.
The precise gearshift, compact shift gate, and surprisingly light, but communicative clutch are really something else - something that will cause a ludicrous grin on even the most mundane drives.
Downshift rev-matching is also built in, and it adapts to the drive mode selected, for if you don’t want to heel-toe yourself, the M2 can take care of that for you.
ANCAP rating: The BMW 2 Series has yet to be tested by ANCAP
Safety features: Six airbags (dual front, front side, full-length curtain), ABS brakes with Dynamic Brake Control, and Cornering Brake Control, electronic stability control (multi-mode) and traction control, front seatbelt pretensioners with belt force limiters
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
In performance terms the M2 comes head-to-head with the new breed of compact performance cars out of Europe, like the Mercedes-AMG CLA 45 and A 45 and the Audi RS 3. All are absolute belters, but with all-wheel-drive they offer a different on-road feel.
Nimble coupes with rear-wheel-drive are hard to find. But if your budget stretches a little further, the Porsche Cayman might fit the bill, with similarly crisp road and track manners, and (for just a little while longer at least) a wonderful six-cylinder engine.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Pure. Exhilarating. Balanced.
That same utterly marvelous feeling of the M4 Coupe filters down to the M2, but thanks to its compact dimensions and simpler suspension, the smaller coupe provides a greater feeling of alertness and agility.
It may not be as outrageously fast as the M4, but, away from the stopwatch, by the seat of your pants it’d be too close to call. That’s almost irrelevant anyway, because none of the superb road holding is diminished.
The biggest problem BMW will have with the M2 is meeting demand - already wait times have pushed to the end of 2016.
So if you’d like to get your hands on one, and really, this is a tremendous small performance coupe, you’d best not leave it too long.