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BMW M2 a ‘true M car’
M2 Coupe deserves its BMW M badge, according to M division executive
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27 Jun 2016
By TIM NICHOLSON in HUNGARY
A SENIOR BMW M division executive has defended the reputation of the instantly popular M2 Coupe, describing it as a “true M car” following criticism from some media outlets and hardcore M fans.
The German prestige car-maker’s go-fast arm developed the rear-wheel-drive M2 with track performance in mind and even replaced the rear axle of the standard 2 Series Coupe with the one from the larger and more powerful M3 sedan.
Priced from $89,900 plus on-road costs in manual-only Pure form – or $98,900 for the higher-spec version with a dual-clutch transmission – the M2 sprinted into Australian showrooms in April and all 300 examples allocated to the market were spoken for within weeks.
Another 100 M2s were secured for local consumption late last month.
Despite overwhelmingly positive feedback and reviews, some have questioned whether the 272kW/465Nm 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder M2 is fast and powerful enough to wear the iconic M badge.
Speaking with GoAuto at a media drive event for the M2 in Hungary, M area manager of sales Joerg Bartels said the compact two-door was indeed a genuine M car, adding that certain criteria need to be fulfilled for a model to be designated M.
“This is a discussion we hear on some models,” he said when asked about the criticism. “So for us an M car is the best-performing car in the segment. It is racetrack-capable and it is ready for daily driving. If you look at those two parameters, for sure M2 is a true M car.
“We do not tell an M by a certain percentage of parts or certain displacement or certain horsepower. For us an M is something you experience behind the steering wheel mainly.
“Looking at the parts, you have a unique suspension, the car is extremely precise at the border of physics and slowly goes over the border. I think for the size of this car, it has a good amount of power – just right.” Mr Bartels added that pricing and positioning played a factor in development of the M2 but that did not diminish its performance capabilities.
Left: BMW M area director of sales Joerg Bartels. “So I don’t see any deficit. Of course some parts you don’t find in M2 you will find in M4, but the M2 is the entry-level price and therefore we skipped some items to not make the car too expensive, to make it achievable,” he said.
Mr Bartels also denied that the M2’s relative affordability compared with its M3 and M4 stablemates, and its global sales success would mean that it would be seen as a less exclusive model than other M cars.
“We have never had a problem with exclusivity. I remember that BMW M sold more than 80,000 E46 M3 Coupe and Convertibles and still the car is well achieved and also looked at as exclusive,” he said.
When asked if the M2 would become the best-selling M car globally, Mr Bartels said he could not discuss sales targets, but added: “Of course sales will be a comparably high level.” While acknowledging that there are no “directly comparable” cars on the market, Mr Bartels said the M division expected the M2 to be cross-shopped with the likes of Audi’s RS3 hot hatch as well as the Mercedes-AMG A45 and CLA45 performance twins.
GoAuto was among a select group of media outlets invited to sample the M2 in its natural environment last week – on the track at the famed Hungaroring circuit just outside Budapest in Hungary.
While we have already sampled it on Australian roads, declaring it something of a modern classic in the making, the opportunity to drive the M2 on the Hungaroring track provided us with a chance – albeit brief – to test BMW’s defence of the M2 as a bona fide M car.
A few quick laps in conditions such as these are never going to expose a car’s ability as a daily drive, but it sure can show up dynamic flaws. And, tellingly, we couldn’t spot any.
The M2 sounds best when in Sport+ mode, giving the 3.0-litre inline turbo-six engine a delicious soundtrack, helped along by the quad exhaust system.
BMW’s traction and stability control systems give the M2 just enough leeway to be playful, feisty even, but you never feel like you could lose control as you would in a larger, more powerful rear-wheel-drive car.
The level of grip from the 19-inch wheels on Michelin Pilot Super Sport – 245/35ZR19 up front and 265/35ZR19s on the rear – is beyond impressive and, for such a capable performance machine, the ride quality is borderline comfortable, particularly compared with M4 Competition Coupe that we also sampled.
Of course, smooth racetracks are not the best way to determine a car’s ride quality, but the M2 is not offered with adaptive dampers and we think that is just fine.
The Comfort driving mode would be appropriate around town, but given we were on a track we mostly stuck to Sport+. There is also a Sport setting.
BMW’s Servotronic dual-mode electric power steering works a treat with the M2, with ultra-sharp turn-in and a beautiful steering feel at any speed. It feels a bit like an old-school hydraulic system, in a very good way.
And of course, the acceleration – 0-100km/h in 4.3 seconds – is exceptional for the output and size of the car, especially when accompanied by the Sport+ soundtrack.
For full drive impressions and to learn what it is like to drive on Australian roads, read our road test from April.
But after a quick fang on a track in Hungary, we are happy confirm what we already suspected. The M2 is on its way to becoming an instant classic.
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