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.