|The M2 is one hot looking compact super-coupe. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
These were pre-auto journalist days when I actually had to buy most of the cars I drove, so therefore my sequential bevy of personal BMWs (5), a Jaguar XJ, and countless beaters before these, had been powered by much less potent engines. That
|There’s nothing subtle about it from either end. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
You could say the umpteen thousands of test vehicles from 18 years of auto writing has left me somewhat non-phased when getting behind the wheel of a new BMW, or anything else. Certainly my adrenaline still piques when testing a particularly good driver’s car like the Bavarian brand’s previous V8-powered M3 (the new one is better but the engine is more NASCAR than F1), the lovely i8, brilliant
|The M2’s headlights don’t bleed into the grille like most new BMWs, but their LED corona rings are brilliant, literally. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
First off, there’s nothing I don’t like about the new M2’s styling. It may not be BMW’s latest design language, without headlamp clusters bleeding into the grille like the current M3, M4, et al, but it still looks sharp. Next to BMW’s twin kidney grille is an angular set of headlamps boasting the brand’s usual corona LED rings, these more traditional BMW influences set atop one of the most aggressive lower front
|Almost as complex as an F1 car’s front wing, the M2’s lower front fascia delivers serious aero. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
The side rocker mouldings are also extended, swelling dramatically as they bend upward and overtop bulging rear fenders, while the trunk gets a tiny lip spoiler on its trailing edge before the car’s hind end gets finished off by a totally unique bumper cap highlighted by vertical rear fogs and an aggressive rear diffuser sporting a quad of chrome-tipped tailpipes.
|Able to fly past the radar without getting noticed? Not. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
The previous entry-level M wasn’t, but instead was dubbed M235i similarly to how BMW dresses up its X5 into M guise. I tested 2014 and 2015 M235i models and was duly impressed, but as good as the car was its twin-scroll turbocharged 3.0-litre I-6 with 322 horsepower and 332 lb-ft of torque could never match the new
|The M2’s 19-inch alloys frame cross-drilled ventilated front rotors that are larger than some cars’ tires. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Depending on personal choice, mated to that engine will be one of two brilliantly reactive transmissions, my tester incorporating the 35-kilo (77-lb) lighter seven-speed M Double Clutch Transmission (M DCT) with Drivelogic, featuring traction-optimized automatic gear selection for much more intelligent shifting than most drivers could come up with on their own. It also benefits from automated launch control for the quickest standing starts possible. So engaged the new M2 scoots from standstill to 100 km/h in just 4.3 seconds, its rev-matching six-speed manual requiring 0.2 seconds more.
|Stylish 2 Series taillights incorporate fast-reacting LEDs. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
|The quartet of M2 tailpipes sound blissful at full song. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Certainly 78 mm (3.1 inches) of added height is never a good thing unless we’re talking headroom and outward visibility, but 157-mm (6.2-inch) wider front and 156-mm (6.1-inch) wider rear tracks, not to mention the new tires’ lower profile and thicker contact patches can only be seen as a positive, enough so to even overcome the new car’s heavier curb weight. Truly, if I’d driven this car instead of the old M3 way back in the ’90s I might’ve been completely overwhelmed by its outrageous performance, its dash to 100km/h some 1.7 seconds quicker and just 0.2 seconds off the mighty M4’s sprint time. That’s right, the little M2 can nearly keep
|The M2 mixes high-grade luxury materials with low-rent entry-level plastics, but any refinement shortcomings are forgivable as soon as you hit the road or track. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
No doubt the M2’s meaty rear rubber plays an important role in straight-line performance, but as I learned when first driving my dad’s ’76 VW Scirocco and then comparing it to mom’s ’76 Chevy Malibu (long before ever getting behind the wheel of the aforementioned M3 Coupe), a powerful engine doesn’t help in the corners. Fortunately, BMW builds on the 2 Series’ inherently adept handling by bolting on a lightweight aluminum M Sport suspension that includes aluminum front and rear axles from the M3/M4, as well as aluminum control arms, wheel carriers, axle subframes, and the stiffening plate to the double-joint spring-strut front
|This is the place you want to be, and the M2 rewards courageous drivers with impressive power and handling skills. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
It’s a car that rewards the brave with just enough rear wheel spin for oversteer-squealing glee, yet near unflappable control when reeling it back in. I’m not a drifter, having spent most of my track time trying to maximize traction and therefore achieve the best lap time, but sometimes letting the rear rubber break free before gathering it all back up again is just too much fun to ignore. The rear-drive-only M2 would be a suitable companion for any drift-meister. Simply switch on M Dynamic Mode (MDM), a sub-function of Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), and enjoy the immediate loss of grip.
|These seemingly analog dials float above a purely digital background. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
The M2 is perfect for such outings, but don’t be concerned if your driving skills aren’t a match for the likes of BMW’s 2017 DTM driver lineup, which incidentally consists of 2016 (and 2014) champion Marco Wittmann, plus Timo Glock, Augusto Farfus, Maxime Martin, Tom Blomqvist, and Canada’s own (2012 champion) Bruno Spengler. The M2’s Active M Differential has
|The multi-tiered centre stack is well organized for fast, efficient application. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Likewise those massive drilled and ventilated brake rotors mentioned earlier deliver superb stopping power. They measure 380 mm up front and 370 mm in the rear and include four- and two-piston calipers apiece respectively.
As good as all this is, the firm suspension setup and short gear intervals that make the M2 a thrill on the track may not be ideal for daily driving if you’re more used to the backside pampering of any non-M-tuned BMW road car. In other words, it’s a purist’s delight, but a poseur’s blight.
|A well stocked infotainment system is infused with a really useful performance app. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
In detail this means the dash top, each side of the centre stack, the top edge of the lower console, and the door uppers are finished
|You can set up your M2 exactly the way you like it. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
BMW does in-car electronics very well, however, and the M2 fully benefits. Ahead of the driver, traditional-style analog dials float above a fully featured colour TFT multi-information display, the latter also incorporating
|Need to find your way to the track? BMW navigation is extremely accurate. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
|The M2’s iDrive controller is easy to operate and surrounded by handy quick-access buttons. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
The switchgear used to modulate the multi-info and infotainment displays is superbly designed and crafted, those on the steering wheel especially nice. I’m also a big fan of BMW’s rotating iDrive controller along with its well-organized quick-access buttons. It’s ultra-easy to find and use while driving, and provides fast, precise selection of functions. Also appreciated are the floating side buttons on the dual-zone auto HVAC interface, and the same on the audio system and optical drive interface, but more so for materials and production quality plus style. Together with the two vents just above, BMW has created an agreeable three-tiered visual approach to the centre stack that’s both smartly laid out for ease of use and appealing to look at.
|I would’ve rather had a manual, but this 7-speed dual-clutch auto is about as advanced as transmissions get. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Its lack of options comes down to BMW equipping the M2 very well from the get-go.
|These fabulous sport seats provide superb support. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
|Even the rear seats are more accommodating than you might expect. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Speaking from a pragmatic point of view, I can’t see the M2 causing 911 owners with growing families to give up their rides, even considering the BMW’s slightly quicker sprint time, but those looking for a high-performance sports coupe with reasonable rear seat room should consider BMW’s smallest. It offers more rear headroom than the CLA 45 AMG I drove last year, and the more potent ’18 Audi TT RS’ rear seats aren’t much better than the 911’s. If we’re simply looking for the
|Cargo space is quite generous and the M2’s 40/20/40-split rear seatbacks are very flexible. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
As for which M2 I’d choose, despite not getting opportunity to drive the six-speed manual yet, and being thoroughly impressed by the paddle-actuated dual-clutch autobox, I’d probably still lean toward the DIY transmission, especially being that BMW hasn’t adapted the car to an electromechanical parking brake. This ruined my last experience with a manually equipped Porsche 911 that was nearly impossible to launch from a steep uphill standing start without stalling (the auto brake holder bogged down the engine so much it kept cutting power until I was forced
|M engines aren’t as pretty as they used to be, but they’re more powerful than ever before. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
In summary, there are a surprising number of entry-level sport coupes vying for your attention, and fortunately they’re all very unique and therefore should appeal to differing design tastes and performance expectations. For me, however, still forlorn over a certain silver ’94 M3 that’s much harder to acquire in pristine condition, the M2 would be my first choice. And that it can be purchased for considerably less than a well cared for version of the much older car (that’s now a revered collector’s item) is just icing on the cake.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)