Car reviews - BMW - 2 Series - M2 Pure
Usable performance, notchy manual, engaging dynamics, exhaust noise, near-perfect exterior styling, updated infotainment system
Room for improvement
Cheap-feeling dash bits, compromised rear seat room, powertrain soon-to-be discontinued meaning imminent rise in price
BMW’S baby M2 sportscar could very well be the M division’s best
17 Aug 2018
BMW’S M Division has a long and illustrious history of producing some of the best driver’s car on the planet with the likes of the E30 M3, E46 M3 and the E39 M5.
The recipe is simple: take an already dynamically engaging base, throw in a more powerful engine, mix in upgraded suspension components and add a dash of rorty exhaust noise.
It’s a tried and true formula, one that BMW has now applied to the relatively new 2 Series coupe to produce the first-ever M2 in 2016, but now the baby M car has received a mid-lifecycle update.
Does the most-affordable M car still deliver the thrills and excitement as before, or has the world simply moved beyond what the M2 can offer?
Price and equipment
Priced at $92,929 before on-road costs, the BMW M2 Pure is not only the cheapest M car on the market, it’s also one of the best bang-for-buck performance coupes available across any stable.
Cheaper than perceivable competitors including the Porsche Cayman ($115,300), Audi TT S ($101,855) and entry-level four-cylinder Jaguar F-Type ($107,012), but more expensive than the hyper hatchbacks in the form of the Mercedes-AMG A45 ($78,611) and Audi RS3 Sportback ($80,240), the M2 manages to carve out its own niche.
While the ‘standard’ M2 – available in both manual and no-cost automatic – is priced at $99,529, the Australian-exclusive Pure variant strips back equipment to keep the price more affordable.
In this mid-lifecycle impulse (LCI) – or simply ‘facelift’ in the common tongue – BMW has added bi-LED headlights, new-look LED tail-lights, revised indicator and wiper stalks and updated iDrive6 infotainment system.
Standard equipment at the Pure level includes 19-inch wheels, rear spoiler, quad exhaust pipes, Dakota leather trim, dual-zone climate control and seven-speaker sound system, while losing out on the step-up variant’s keyless entry, electrically adjustable front pews and 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio.
Although the M2 Pure is arguably sparsely equipped, it’s pricetag is more than justified by what’s under the bonnet and how it drives (more on those two below).
Measuring 4468mm long, 1854mm wide and 1410mm tall with a 2698mm wheelbase, the BMW M2 offers plenty of space for both front occupants, but could leave rear passengers wanting – depending on their size.
While perfectly bolstered front sports pews envelop the lucky driver and front passenger, the M2’s sloping roofline impinges on the rear occupant headspace and the short dimensions impede rear legroom.
Think of the BMW M2 as more of a 2+2 then, rather than full four-seater.
Touch points in the cabin all feel suitably premium from a premium brand, and the driving position is spot-on thanks to the reach and tilt-adjustable steering column.
The M2’s thick-rimmed steering wheel initially felt a bit too thick in hand, but over the course of the week we grew to enjoy the chubby tiller, while the control buttons fall easily within reach.
An upgrade 8.8-inch iDrive6 infotainment system is also a much welcome addition, displaying information in high-definition clarity – satellite navigation has never been easier to use!
Also included in the new unit is digital radio, Bluetooth connectivity and USB input, but those after Apple CarPlay will have to tick the $623 option, while Android users (like us) are sadly left in the cold.
The M2’s cabin is not without its shortcomings though, as some hard plastics adorn the lower dashboard and upper door trims, and there is a noticeable absence of a head-up display.
In the rear, the boot will happily swallow a 390 litre load – easily enough for some groceries or a few bags for a weekend getaway.
Engine and transmission
Nestled under the long bonnet of the BMW M2 is a turbocharged 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder petrol engine that produces 272kW of power at 6500rpm and 465Nm of torque from 1400-5560rpm.
Sending drive to the rear wheels via a slick-shifting six-speed manual results in a zero to 100km/h time of 4.5 seconds, if you manage to nail the launch...
It takes some serious left-foot finesse to get near that sprint time, as flat-footing it just results in the traction control lighting up the dashboard like a Christmas tree.
While brutal acceleration is always a delight, our favourite aspect of the engine is actually the torque available so low down.
Any car can become fast if you are brave – or foolhardy – enough to keep the right foot planted, but few can feel as frighteningly quick as the M2 in day-to-day situations.
Go light on the throttle and the M2 is civilised and easy to drive, push the right foot a little harder and its sporting characteristics start to become more evident, and bury the boot for neck-snapping performance – the choice is yours.
The exhaust is also an absolute treat, bellowing the perfect amount of pops and burbles on overrun in sportier modes, while remaining relatively sedate and quiet on softer settings.
Such a shame then that this N55 engine will soon be discontinued to make way for the harder-charging 302kW/550Nm M2 Competition that borrows its motor from its M3/M4 bigger brothers.
Although we’ve not sampled the new M2 yet, the outgoing mill is perfectly suited to the small coupe, offering more than enough performance to be fun, but not enough to get you into trouble – perfectly balanced, as all things should be.
The gearbox is also a delight, offering snappy gear engagement with short throws and a notchy, satisfying feel.
Rev-matching is also included, but the automatic throttle blip on downshift feels a little too artificial and excessive in town.
It’s not BWM’s fault though, we aren’t fans of any rev-matching system and would prefer to heel-and-toe ourselves, so luckily it can be switched off.
But relegating the M2 to purely city driving is a bit like getting Adele to sing happy birthday – a waste of potential. Take the M2 out on more open and dynamically engaging roads and it really starts to shine (more on this below).
Official fuel consumption figures for the BMW M2 Pure are pegged at 8.5 litres per 100km, but in our week of testing we managed an 11.6L/100km figure with driving heavily skewed towards inner city commuting.
Ride and handling
Some will argue the BMW M2’s pièce de résistance (what’s this phrase in German?) is the engine, but we’d wholeheartedly argue its best quality is its handling.
Balanced, poised and composed, the M2 is one of the tightest handling cars we’ve ever have the pleasure of piloting.
Underpinned by a five-link M Sport rear suspension set-up and an electric power steering rack, feedback is excellent, while the low-slung seating position and outstanding balance pivot the rear end around the driver the moment the tiller is tugged.
Trust us, take the M2 out on your favourite set of windy roads and you will struggle to wipe the smile off your face.
If the communicative chassis and steering are not enough to signal the sportscars intentions or if you managed to misjudge a corner, luckily the M compound brakes are fitted to scrub speed.
Fitted with Michelin Pilot Sport tyres measuring 245/35 up front and 265/35 in the rear, the M2 sticks it in the corners, even at higher speeds, like few others can. The torque vectoring and Active M differential no doubt helps in this regard too.
The M2 is also noticeably softer than its M3 and M4 siblings, making a trip down the road to the shops or a long-distance cruise enjoyable – it really is a sportscar you could live with every day.
Safety and servicing
BMW’s M2 has yet to be crash tested by the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) or Euro NCAP.
However, the mechanically related 1 Series hatchback received a five-star ANCAP rating when tested in 2011 with a total score of 36.33 out of a possible 37 points.
Standard safety equipment includes six airbags, low-speed forward collision mitigation, driver fatigue monitor, electronic stability control, ABS brakes, tyre pressure monitoring and traction control.
The M2 Pure comes with a three-year/unlimited kilometre warranty with roadside assist like all new BMW models, while service intervals are every 12 months or 10,000km, whichever comes first.
Undeniably the M2 is the car that carries the M Performance torch from its E36 and E46 M3 forbears, even more so than the current iteration of the mid-size sedan and M4 coupe.
With more than enough performance on tap from its turbocharged in-line six and the handling poise of a ballerina for a somewhat attainable pricetag makes the M2 Pure a deadest future classic.
The fact that it wears a premium BMW badge is just the cherry on top of an already delicious cake – get one while you can.
Porsche Cayman manual from $115,300 before on-road costs
Turbocharged 2.7-litre four-cylinder develops only 202kW/290Nm, but with the mill mounted mid-ship, the Porsche Cayman will easily keep up dynamically with the BMW M2. However, a steeper pricetag, only two seats and less room limit practicality.
Jaguar F-Type from $107,012 before on-road costs
Arguable one of the most beautiful vehicles on sale today, the Jaguar XX offers 221kW/400NM from its 2.0-litre four-pot engine. More grand tourer than outright sportscar, the Jag loses out the BMW M2 in the twisties.
Audi TT S from $101,855 before on-road costs
Audi’s famed Quattro all-wheel drive helps give the TT S the advantage in terms of grip, but the turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder is well down on power at 210kW/380Nm compared to the BMW M2.
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