Pictured here at its unveiling in Detroit and in our exclusive studio shots, the eagerly anticipated M2 is the indirect successor to the short-lived 1 Series M Coupé, which was produced in limited numbers from 2010.
Power and torque are up from its 1 Series M Coupé predecessor, to 370bhp and 343lb ft, with an 'overboost' function providing a further 26lb ft. These equate to a 4.5sec 0-62 time on the manual car, with BMW's DCT dual-clutch automatic transmission shaving a further 0.3sec off. Top speed is limited to 155mph. Upon launch, there will be no option to remove the limiter in the UK - which would raise the top speed to 168mph - although such a pack is under consideration by BMW following requests from prospective UK M2 buyers.
When it goes on sale here next April, the two-door will be priced at £44,070 for the manual, pitching it £12,520 below the larger and more powerful M3, which until now has been the entry point into BMW’s M car line-up. The DCT transmission-equipped car will be priced at £46,575. While the M2 will be comprehensively equipped, a few options, such as sun protection glass, driver assistance systems, a Harman Kardon sound system and a reversing camera, will cost extra. Aesthetic upgrades such as decals will also be optional.
Four colours are available on the M2: black, white, grey and a 'Long Beach Blue' shade shared with the X6 M.
Together with the newly facelifted £39,995 A45, the M2 will be a rival to the £39,950 Audi RS3 Sportback when sales begin on 16 April.
Carrying a £10,000 premium over the M235i, the M2 delivers added stiffness and improved handling compared with its less-powerful sibling, with a more track-focused approach than that of the M235i. Despite this, BMW maintains that while the M2 delivers a lot in the way of performance, including its track potential, it's a sports car more suited for an urban setting than a track-day special such as the M4 GTS.
The manual M2 is 45kg heavier than the equivalent M235i, while the DCT-equippedmodel is 25kg heavier than the Sport Auto M235i. Both cars are more powerful than their M235i counterparts by 50bhp, and are a great deal stiffer. With a claimed kerb weight of 1495kg, the new BMW has a power-to-weight ratio of 244bhp per tonne, which is marginally better than the 242bhp per tonne of the Mercedes A45 4Matic.
The M2 takes BMW into new territory. Where the 1 Series M Coupé's limited-run status reserved it for the folly of enthusiasts and collectors, the M2 aims to take the M sub-brand to a previously unexplored, younger demographic.
The M2 will be produced in much higher numbers than the 1 Series M Coupé. While just 450 1 M models made it to the UK, BMW plans to bring 2000 M2 units to the UK, with the only constraint being the number it is able to produce, although these figures are still being decided upon. In spite of the freedom in production numbers, around 600 orders have already been made for the M2, so the earliest an order placed now will be delivered is 2017, as demand currently outweighs supply.
Unlike its highly rated four-wheel-drive hatchback rivals, the rear-wheel-drive M2 maintains a rich tradition for coupé models at BMW’s M division, harking back to the original M3.
As a result, BMW’s M division boss, Franciscus Van Meel, is also counting on competition from the Porsche Cayman S, which starts at £49,473, for the new M2. Unlike its direct rivals from Mercedes-Benz and Audi, the M2 is offered with both manual and dual-clutch automatic transmissions, rather than an exclusively dual-clutch auto set-up. BMW currently has no plans to produce an M2 convertible at this time.
At the heart of the new price-leading M car is a heavily modified version of BMW’s six-year-old N55 petrol engine, as used in an early evolution by the 1 Series M Coupé. The turbocharged 3.0-litre striaght six unit has been heavily reworked by M division engineers to provide the sort of performance, response and aural character expected of a full-blown M car engine.
Unlike the more powerful S55-designated twin turbocharged unit found in the M3, the M2’s aluminium block engine relies on a single turbocharger that uses a twin-scroll process to boost induction, as with BMW’s regular six-cylinder petrol-engined models.
Despite this fundamental difference, the reworked N55 engine adopts the same pistons, crankshaft bearing shells, exhaust system elements and other as yet unspecified components as the S55 powerplant. It also uses similar Valvetronic variable valve control and Double Vanos variable camshaft control processes. A forged crankshaft also features.
Buyers can choose between a standard six-speed manual gearbox featuring a throttle-blip function, or an optional seven-speed DCT dual-clutch automatic gearbox with the choice of both manual and automatic modes, Comfort, Sport and Sport+ driving modes, launch control and a so-called Smoky Burnout function, which allows wheelspin off the line. As on all M cars, an electronic limited-slip M-differential, with a fully variable locking effect, is standard.
With the standard manual gearbox, BMW says the M2 accelerates from 0 to 62mph in 4.5sec. With the DCT fitted, a lower first gear ratio and the effectiveness of the launch control reduce the time to 4.3sec.
BMW sees the M2 as a vastly different offering to the M4, and therefore believes that sales of the M2 will not dent those of other M-badged models - including the M235i - due to the difference in driving experience on offer, and price.
The bullish-looking M2 is visually differentiated from lesser 2 Series coupé models by a number of exterior design changes, all described by BMW as being functional elements, including xenon lights fitted as standard.
Included is a new and heavily structured front bumper with winglets used to channel cooling air to enlarged ducts, a subtly modified kidney grille featuring a BMW M logo, wider front and rear wings, a new side feature line and chrome highlights housing the repeater lights ahead of the doors.
Further back there are wider sills, a small boot lip spoiler and a prominent rear bumper housing an integral diffuser with M division’s signature quad tailpipes. Together, the exterior design changes are claimed to reduce drag by 5% as well as reduce lift by up to 35% over the standard 2 Series.
The M2 is clearly the smallest of all current M cars. With a length of 4468mm, width of 1854mm and height of 1410mm, it is 202mm shorter, 21mm narrower and 10mm lower than the M3. It also has a wheelbase that is 117mm shorter than that of the M3, at 2693mm.
The latest M car rides on a largely bespoke chassis, which features tracks that are increased in width by a substantial 64mm at the front and 71mm at the rear over those used by the current range topping 2 Series model, the M235i, at 1579mm and 1601mm respectively. They’re essentially the same tracks used by the M3 and its two-door sibling, the M4.
Additional bracing between the suspension towers helps to boost the rigidity of the 2 Series coupé’s steel body. M division has also dispensed with rear bushings, with the M2’s rear axle subframe bolted directly to the structure.
The suspension, featuring MacPherson struts up front and a five-link arrangement at the rear as seen on the M3 and M4, also receives a number of lightweight components, including forged aluminium control arms and wheel carriers, in order to lower the unsprung weight by a claimed 3kg. Weight has also been saved on sound insulation, as per the M4 GTS. The springs, dampers, front bushings, roll bars and electro-mechanical steering system are also all uniquely tuned. The suspension setup lowers the M2 by 8mm over the standard 2 Series, and widens the track by 80mm.
The new BMW rides on 9.0Jx19in front and 10.0x19in rear wheels also shared with the M4, shod with 245/35 and 265/35-profile Michelin Pilot super Sport tyres - which are narrower than those on the M4 respectively. Featuring a double-spoke design, the wheels house 380mm front and 370mm rear steel disc brakes, which are acted upon by four-piston front and two-piston rear calipers - the same brakes as the M3 and M4. The carbon-ceramic brakes available as a £6200 option on the M3 and M4 are not available on the M2.
Inside, the M2 continues the tradition of subtle sportiness evident in all recent BMW M division offerings, but leather M sport seats - different to the M235i - and carbon and Alcantara trim are standard-fit, as are M dials, and an M steering wheel.
Changes include unique instrument graphics, a leather-bound M Sport steering wheel (with integral paddles on models equipped with the dual-clutch automatic gearbox), sport seats in black leather with adjustable side bolsters, an aluminium foot rest and a centre console-mounted kneepad for the driver.
The M2 will be launched in coupé bodystyle only. Rumours have suggested that M division is preparing a cabriolet variant, although this is denied by insiders, who say the new car is being positioned first and foremost as a performance car that will serve as a springboard for a number of racing variants, including a possible track-only GT4 model in the future.
Comment - Matt Prior: Will it be worth the wait?
I remember the fever before the 1 Series M Coupé was officially announced. Might it be, we wondered, a basic, lightweight, thin-tyred, four-piston rev monster in the style of the original E30 M3?
Well, no, it wasn’t. It had a big six-cylinder engine and fat old tyres. At first, you might have almost been disappointed, but it turned out that it was an immense giggle. It has also set the precedent for subsequent sub-3 and 4 Series M cars, whose mould this M2 is clearly from.
The M2, then, carries on from where the 1 Series M Coupé left off, which is extremely encouraging. The M235i from which the M2 is spawned has already on these pages seen off an M4 and an Alpina version of the same in a group test. We loved that the 2 Series was lighter, more agile and equally as engaging. All it needed, we pondered, was a bit more M-ness. And now it’s set to get it. Goody.