Car reviews - BMW - 2 Series - M2 Pure
Epic dynamic aptitude clobbers M3/M4 and rivals, flawless engine and manual transmission, tight steering and suspension
Room for improvement
Basic cabin not for fashion slaves, ride quality may be borderline too tough for some, little else
22 Aug 2016
Price and equipment
PRICED from $89,900 plus on-road costs, the manual-only M2 Pure costs $10K less than the model grade simply titled M2 and available with either a six-speed DIY-shifter or paddleshifter-equipped seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission. There is nothing like a five-figure discount to convince buyers they should pick manual over auto.
In some ways the Pure label could be a euphemism for ‘bare bones’. Sure there is standard leather trim, dual-zone climate control and BMW’s superb 8.8-inch colour screen with the (fittingly) simple-to-use iDrive satellite navigation and digital radio.
However, adaptive headlights, electrically adjustable front seats with heating, keyless auto-entry with alarm and Harman Kardon audio are all reserved for the sub-$100K M2.
Curiously, the above kit is standard on the $64,900 M140i hatchback that shortly arrives to replace the M135i, complete with 500Nm of torque (the M2 has 465Nm) and a 4.7-second 0-100km/h claim (just two-tenths slower than this Pure).
A near-identically-priced, but four-door and auto-only Mercedes-AMG CLA45 also gets electrically adjustable heated front seats, a panoramic sunroof and even active cruise control, so this BMW clearly asks for some equipment sacrifice.
BMW has cleverly positioned the M2 well below its M3/M4 siblings for showroom appeal, at least inside. Well-heeled buyers would easily be tempted by the loftier siblings that start from $140K and offer a leather-topped dashboard and richer trim textures throughout.
The M2 Pure is based on the 1 Series that starts just above $30K and is now a three-year-old design. There has been little effort to change the merely decent plastics, but the application of real carbon-fibre and Alcantara trim endows the cabin with a purposeful feel.
Bespoke M Division instruments, including a 300km/h speedometer and 8000rpm tachometer, further hint that little effort has been wasted on luxury accoutrements. The M2 Pure is not a slave to fashion.
That said, the 2 Series coupe bodystyle is surprisingly roomy, even for a duo of rear passengers, while the boot is larger than most hatchbacks. In terms of outright space there is not a lot to gain from jumping to the larger 3 Series- and 4 Series-based M cars.
There is, however, much to be gained by picking the M2 over the M2 Pure in terms of its driving position. Without an infinitely adjustable backrest – merely a manual lever with staggered adjustment – it is possible to either sit too far upright or too far back, while the controls operating the seat feel like you’ve spent less than half the $90K ask.
Engine and transmission
The M2’s 3.0-litre six-cylinder gets a single turbocharger rather than two as in M3/M4, so outputs of 272kW at 6500rpm and 465Nm between 1400rpm and 5560rpm (or 500Nm on overboost through 1450rpm until 4750rpm) are obviously down on big brother’s 317kW/550Nm.
However, the more compact two-door M-car weighs 1495kg, only 2kg less than the M4 coupe that benefits from carbon-fibre-infused weight reduction techniques.
So essentially the M2 is a detuned M4 and that sits fine with us.
Where the M4 (and slightly heavier M3) suffer from lightswitch power delivery on a light throttle press, which overwhelms the traction control and makes the handling twitchy on tight roads, the M2 has superb throttle response and wonderfully linear delivery while being neither too laggy nor edgy.
BMW disappointingly reverts the M2 to Comfort mode on each start-up, but quickly switch to Sport or Sport+ and flaps inside the quad exhausts open to deliver a perfect mix of tasty crackle above six-cylinder dulcet tones. Sound is largely subjective, but the Pure arguably sounds tastier than the forced, fake amplified blare of the M3/M4.
In the sportier modes throttle response is sharper, gelling ideally with the manual that auto-blips on downshifts, curiously unless stability control is completely turned off. Some will dislike this feature, but in a world where rivals such as the CLA45 as well as the Audi RS3 and TT S are automatic only, the mere availability of three-pedals rightly silence pedants.
Oh, and the M2 Pure is fast. It barely feels slower than the M3/M4 and the way it piles on a torrent of speed when under full-throttle duress would embarrass the dynamics leader in the circa-$100K segment, the Porsche Cayman. And that provides a great segue to the next section.
Ride and handling
Take one look at the bodywork of the M2 Pure and there will be no need to send the specification sheet to the Fact Checker unit. Compared with a standard 2 Series, the M-car is 80mm wider with the front wheels pushed out by 58mm and the rears by 45mm.
This coupe range flagship sits wide and low, with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres (245mm-wide front, 265mm rear) filling the guards.
Clearly the M2 Pure has all the gear, but more than anything else from BMW’s sportiest division right now it also has the greatest idea on how to delight its driver.
From steering that is superbly mid-weighted with tight on-centre response that embarrasses the loose M3/M4, to its fixed sports suspension that treads the narrowest of tightropes between comfort and control – between just acceptable and simply impeccable – this little Bimmer fizzes with feel.
Whether trundling around town where its front-end always feels agile and its steering and throttle connected, or on the open road where its limits elevate towards supercar levels, it is a knockout.
Perhaps most staggering is the M2’s traction out of corners, and the way it can get its power down while oozing balance. Yet it is possible to dance with this car, particularly in Sport+ with the superb M Dynamics Mode of stability control where it is throttle-adjustable yet safely on your side.
It is so good that picking a dynamic flaw is impossible, unless a luxurious ride is a must.
Safety and servicing
Six airbags (including dual front, front-side, and full-length curtain protection), ABS, switchable electronic stability control (ESC), lane departure warning and pre-collision warning with autonomous emergency braking (AEB) are all standard.
ANCAP has not tested the BMW M2.
BMW’s service inclusive package costs $2163 and includes servicing to five years or 80,000km.
The BMW M2 is in another league to the CLA45, RS3 and TT S crew, and comfortably ahead of both the entry Porsche Cayman (although a new turbo four version is coming) and the M3/M4.
It took guts for BMW to make the M2 Pure. Its interior is not fashionable, it is not brimming with the latest gadgets and technology, and it fails to deliver the silken ride quality that many buyers might expect from do-it-all sportscars these days.
In focusing purely on core M-car virtues, however, the M2 Pure sets a new standard for performance, steering and handling at this price point and above it. And if it could not be tagged M2 CK then it should soon be stamped M2 FC – for ‘Future Classic’.
Audi TT S from $99,900 plus on-road costs
Luxurious and fast, but uninvolving dynamically.
Mercedes-AMG CLA45 from $89,500 plus on-road costs
Extra practicality and drivetrain speedy, but uninspiring.
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