BMW has an excellent record when it comes to compact performance coupes. The first M3 of the 1980s set the gold standard for the segment when it arrived, and now over 30 years later the BMW M2 carries that flame.
In fact the M2 has been so successful that it quickly became the brand’s top-selling M car in Australia, with local love for the fast-paced coupe helping BMW Australia claim the highest percentage of M sales of any market in the world.
With that kind of success on its shoulders it comes as no surprise that BMW has been measured with its updates to the M2.
Vehicle Style: Prestige performance coupe
Price: $93,900 - $99,900 plus on-road costs
Engine/trans: 272kW/475Nm 3.0 6cyl turbo petrol | 6sp manual, 7sp automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 7.9-8.5 l/100km
The 2018 BMW M2 update (life cycle impulse in BMW-speak) is a subtle one. BMW has left the M2’s pro bodybuilder-esque bulging bodywork untouched, and instead concentrated on the finer details.
There’s new LED lights front and rear, and a new ‘iDrive 6’ infotainment system that adds touchscreen functionality. BMW has also (finally!) gone back to regular indicator and windscreen wiper stalks that click into position in place of the infuriating ‘return to home’ stalks that have blighted the brand for so long.
To account for the changes pricing does take a small trip north, starting at $93,900 for the manual-only M2 Pure or $99,900 (both plus on-road costs) for the better equipped M2 which offers a no-cost choice of manual or automatic transmission. Pricing climbs by $3400 and $1000 respectively.
- 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, Bi-LED headlights, 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 touchscreen, iDrive controller, Bluetooth phone and audio, DAB+ digital radio, seven-speaker audio (Pure) or 12-speaker audio (M2), M-specific app integration, satellite navigation, 20GB media hard drive, DVD drive
- Cargo volume: 390 litres
Keen spotters will notice the change to BMW’s iDrive infotainment interface more than anything else, with a new ‘tiled’ interface, touchscreen functionality and natural voice recognition making the system easier to use.
Elsewhere in the cabin BMW has kept changes to a minimum, where the M2 provides a functional workspace with a minimal amount of chintz. The trims and finished are honest, ready to race, and less overtly glamorous than some competitors.
There’s weak spots. The seats can’t match the grip and support offered by some lesser hot hatches at almost half the price, and you will find some squeaks and rattles in the cabin.
Consider it a reminder that you’ve bought a $90k+ performance car, not a plush luxo-coupe.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 272kW/475Nm (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
Every good performance car story starts under the bonnet, and for that the M2 carries a 3.0-litre turbo six generating 272kW and 475Nm or torque with an overboost function for limited access to 500Nm.
When linked up to the seven-speed auto the 0-100km/h run takes 4.3 seconds, or in the six-speed manual you’ll get there in 4.5 seconds. Naturally power is sent to the rear wheels.
As an introduction BMW took us to the public roads that make up the legendary Targa Tasmania - the M2’s home turf. On a course filled with heavily cambered corners and variable surfaces there was little that managed to upset the M2’s incredible balance.
From a responsive and beautifully weighted steering setup, through to fixed rate dampers with a firm ride but unrelenting purchase on the road beneath the M2 feeds a constant dialogue back to the driver, ensuring absolute confidence in the car’s abilities.
Part of that balance lies in the engine itself - a single turbo unit that is entirely predictable as it builds up with a linear feel that its more heavily-boosted twin-turbo M4 sibling can’t match. Although the M4 might have more top-end punch the M2 feels less likely to bite the unwary.
Out of the two available transmission option the manual is the most engaging (never mind losing 0.2 seconds in the 0-100 km/h dash, you simply won’t care). The car we tested also came with a selection of M Performance Parts like lightweight wheels, an Alcantara steering wheel, semi slick tyres and a roaring exhaust - all worthwhile enthusiast additions.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Universally adored when it first appeared, and without any significant fiddling, the 2018 BMW M2 continues to aim straight for the heart of enthusiast drivers.
Instead of being caught up in image and appearance the M2, as always, provides a functional outlet for dedicated drivers to hone their craft. Something that’s sure to see the M2 continue to hold the top-spot on the M sales ladder.