The name “BMW” incites a certain expectation. Driving pleasure, handling, chassis tuning, these are all evocative connotations of the brand. In recent years, BMW has been more focused on selling cars in masses for the masses, rather than drivers’ cars for the enthusiastic driver. The M2 may be a return to form.
The enthusiast community has said nothing but praise about the M2. It’s small, light (by modern standards) and has quite some pep in its step. Speaking of that pep, the M2 has a 3.0 liter turbocharged inline-six. It makes 365hp and 343 lb-ft torque. If that’s not enough for you, don’t worry. Next year, for 2019, the M2 will only be available with the Competition Package. This brings the real M engine from the M3 and M4. It’s still 3.0 liters but it’s twin turbocharged making 405 hp and 406 lb-ft of torque. Not quite as much as the older brothers but more than enough in the M2’s smaller chassis. Regardless of which engine, power delivery is typical turbocharged BMW. There is very little to no lag with torque all across the rev range. It’s smooth, it (almost) feels naturally aspirated and it reminds me why inline-sixes are better than a “V” configuration. The brakes are interesting. They don’t have as much of an aggressive bite at the top of the pedal as I would expect but they stop the car very confidently.
Our M2 has the DCT which is the wrong transmission. If you are looking for an M2, please get a manual. The dual clutch is extremely quick, with smooth and seamless shifts. However, it really takes away from driver satisfaction. Yes, the changes themselves may be quick but to initiate the gear changes, there is still a slight delay. The clutch also doesn’t seem to engage the new gear quick enough. You can sometimes feel this hesitation when you’re trying to apply throttle mid corner. In automatic mode, the transmission also does just an average job of predicting what gear you would like. The steering, I have to comment on. There’s far less dead spot on center compared to the M3. The weight also can’t be adjusted which is good because it’s weighted perfectly. There is no Sport Mode to make it feel excessively heavy like the power steering is broken. The feedback is still lacking, it still feels too isolated from the front wheels which is not very BMW.
Cornering behavior is wonderful; flat through the bends and extremely easy to control when the back end lets loose. Front end feels very dart-able and definitely inspires fun, all without compromising ride quality. Keep in mind that the M2 is not available with adaptive suspension even though it doesn’t seem to need it. The car has a great sense of rotation with a pivot point pleasantly close to the center. Well done BMW in terms of handling competency.
This M2 is equipped with the Executive Package. It has the upgraded Harmon Kardon sound system along with driver assistant features such as the lane departure warning and forward collision avoidance. It has just enough creature comforts to make driving more comfortable without taking away from the overall message of sportiness.
Generally speaking, most people appreciate the lines on the M2. The wide body on it may give the car a squashed look but I like the bulldog stance. It looks extremely aggressive for such a small vehicle. The blue M brake calipers look monstrous on this vehicle.
The inside is clean and simple; not a lot of buttons or screens. The driving position is okay, it’s not as instinctual as I’d like. However, there are many adjustments for both the seat and the steering wheel so it’s easy to get comfortable. The cabin materials are not the best but the fit is pretty good. The cabin is typical BMW, more function over form. I found the gauge clusters a little strange. They look digital but they are indeed analog and are rather weird to look at.
The big question for me while testing the M2 was whether or not this is a true BMW M car or not. I didn’t quite get that feeling with the M3. Yes the M2 is fast but does give the driving the satisfaction that an M car is supposed to give? I think it’s pretty close. The M2 is light, agile, and competent through the bends. The power is plentiful but not excessive. The car also has a personality that goes beyond its physical capabilities. However, the extra magic might still be missing. It just doesn’t feel special enough. That’s not to say the M2 is a bad car, it’s just not quite my favorite BMW.
Torque, Lots Of Torque
DCT Is Not Perfect
Lacking That X-Factor
Specs: Engine: 3.0L DOHC 24-Valve Turbocharged I6 Drivetrain: RWD
Power: 365hp @ 6,500 rpm Torque: 343 lb-ft @ 1,400rpm Transmission: 7-Speed Dual Clutch
Fuel Economy (City/Highway/Comb.): 18/26/21 MPG Wheelbase: 106 in Curb Weight: 3,505 lbs (51.4% / 48.6%) (DCT) Base Price: $53,500 Price as Tested: $60,845 (incl. dest.)