Car reviews - BMW - 2 Series - M2
A real hoot to drive at any speeds, terrific buying for the money, and a future classic in the making
Room for improvement
Artificial throttle blip offends the purist, should be switchable, can feel soft in power delivery
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28 Sep 2017
By TIM ROBSON
IT’S one of the most famous performance badges in the world of performance motoring, but there’s a school of thought from some punters that BMW’s M division has lost its way in recent years.
From the brutal V8-powered E39 M5 to the silken pace and impeccable balance of the straight-six E46 M3, BMW’s tuners have been responsible for some amazing machines over the decades.
Lately, though, more powerful but less involving cars such as the X5 M SUV and the straight six turbocharged M3 and M4 twins that lack a sense of connection and involvement have caused angst in the M world.
Thankfully, the new M2 revives the spirit of the greatest M cars in the best way possible.
BORN of the three-door 2 Series, the M2 has its own distinct personality, thanks to a set of hugely pumped rear wheelarches and a bespoke bodykit that’s fond of an aerodynamic flourish.
Huge vents in the front bar gulp in air for the large brakes and engine bay, while a tiny bootlip spoiler and bespoke quad-pipe exhaust system complete the rear. Adaptive LED lights have been added for 2018, along with new LED tail-lights.
Despite being a small car, the M2 is surprisingly easy to live with day-to-day.
A new iDrive6 multimedia touchscreen lifts the cabin presentation, but fundamentally, the MY18 M2 is the spitting image of the 2017 car.
The M2 uses an updated version of the N55 3.0-litre turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine that was first seen in the M2’s spiritual predecessor, the 1 Series M coupe.
It still grunts out a healthy 272kW of power and 465Nm of torque for 2018, with a throttle-restricted overboost function that can output 500Nm between 1450 and 4750rpm.
A six-speed manual gearbox and an electronic locking rear diff backs the M2’s powerplant, sending drive to the rear wheels. The eight-speed ZF automatic transmission is standard but the manual is a no-cost option.
The manual fitted to the test car is equipped with a love-it-or-hate-it rev matching function that matches engine RPM with gear shifts, without the need to use the heel-and-toe method of blipping the throttle with the side of your right foot between changes.
It’s something that will annoy purists, and it can be turned off only if you turn traction control all the way to ‘you’re on your own’ off mode.
BMW claims the M2 will rip to 100km/h in 4.5 seconds – only 0.2s slower than its more expensive M3 sibling.
Some of the most memorable M cars have also tested the nerve and skill of its driver the first of the V8-powered M3s, for example, was too quick to break free in snap-oversteer that was almost uncatchable with traction control off.
Despite its diminutive size, the 1495kg M2 is much more forgiving and engaging, and its steering, too, is eons ahead in terms of feel and feedback over the M3 and M4.
There’s a lot of theatrics in the loud, crackling exhaust note – especially when fitted with the optional remotely operated Akropovic exhaust as our tester was – and the engine revs on downshifts, and the M2’s looks alone ensure that each drive of the wee beastie is a memorable one.
The large footprint afforded by 245/35 ZR19 Michelin Pilot Sports on the front and 265/45 ZR19s out back, and the confident stopping power from a huge set of 380mm rotors and four-piston brakes, instills real confidence even over tricky terrain, while the single-setting spring and damper combo works amazingly well at pace and more than adequately around town.
An individual mode also allows you to have, for example, an aggressive engine map and softer diff settings, which is good for wetter days where you want to push on a bit.
The hype around the BMW M2 is massive, and fortunately for dealers, BMW HQ has found additional stocks of the M2 for 2017.
This is one of the sharpest, most engaging and most entertaining driver’s cars from BMW in a long time.
The M2 represents a chance to own a genuinely special car that is set to become a future classic.
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