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BMW's M2 edges a little closer to home: we've now driven it in Europe, and in right-hand-drive form. And we still think it's brilliant

Our Verdict

BMW M2

The BMW M2 is the smallest M car in the range, but can it live up to the prodigious name?

  • First Drive

    2016 BMW M2 review

    We've finally sampled the brilliant new M2 on British roads. Find out how it fared
  • First Drive

    2016 BMW M2 review

    BMW's M2 edges a little closer to home: we've now driven it in Europe, and in right-hand-drive form. And we still think it's brilliant
Matt Prior
13 April 2016

What is it?

Soon we’ll get the BMW M2 - which we’ve already driven in the US - here in the UK, where we’ll line it up against something equally tasty. But for now it’s here, in right-hand-drive form, in, er, Spain, unusually. But, at least, we're on roads much like our own, with the steering wheel on the correct side of the car and, huzzah, with the six-speed manual gearbox that is standard.

All of which initially reveals that the latest, currently smallest M-car is has a fine driving position in right-hook form and a sweet – firm and not over-short of throw – gearshift. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

The M2 arrives in UK showrooms this month. Because it’s the smallest M-car, BMW evokes the 2002 Turbo, E30 M3 and the 1M Coupé. The M2 sits on a widened 2 Series coupé body, which means it is mostly made of steel, whereas its bigger M3 and M4 siblings receive more aluminium and, in places, composites. As a result of all that, the weight difference between the M2 and M3 can be as little as 25kg. The suspension, though, owes more to the bigger siblings, which is why the body is wider and looks suitably cross with the world.

The engine is a 3.0-litre straight six, but with one turbocharger instead of the M3 and M4’s two. It gives 365bhp and mammoth reserves of torque: 369lb ft, developed from – get this – 1450rpm. There’s no torque reduction at low revs to make the car feel naturally aspirated, to give it a sense of gently building power. The curve gets up and stays up, right through to 4500rpm. Peak power is at 6500rpm.

The interior? Pure BMW, with obligatory highlights, badging, embossment, stitching and Alcantara. That driving position: there are about three dozen good ones in there for any driver. I spent a reasonable portion of a 12-hour drive day fiddling between several. Eventually you’ll settle on one.

What's it like?

Now, when BMW evokes those earlier cars, it’s remembering something about them, specifically their compactness, lightness and agility. But even by the time the 1M arrived this was becoming relative. The M2, now, weighs at its lightest a not insignificant 1570kg. It has so much oomph it needs 10in-wide rear wheels to drive its power to the road.

Read our full UK review of the BMW M2 here

Credit, then, that this 4.47m-long, 1.85m-wide car does feel notably more alert and agile than its only marginally bigger, heavier siblings. It has a verve and spirit about the way it changes direction. It steers fluently, keeps its nose well planted and is balanced, poised and ready and able to deploy as much of its 369lb ft as you’re inclined to push through its fat rear tyres. Which, yes, it overwhelms pretty much as your whim dictates. The M2 has the same active rear limited-slip differential as other M cars, so it can lock by anything between 0 and 100%. It does easy slides, in other words, despite a 60bhp power deficit over an M4.

In the end, the power difference feels less than that. The M2 has plenty of shove – bar a little turbo lag at low revs – making it quick much of the time, and although you can wring it out if you want to, you don’t need to because it has mammoth flexibility. And it feels the ‘right’ kind of fast. You don’t need any more power than this; it’s enough to bring the best out of an adjustable chassis, it feels quick without being hyper and fast without being overly, um, furious. 

And yet it also feels more complete and more focused than its most obvious, albeit slightly cheaper, rivals, the Audi RS3 and Mercedes-AMG A45. It feels a more natural fit against a Porsche Cayman – a sports car, not a hot four-seater. 

Should I buy one?

This is where things get interesting. The M2 makes a decent noise: it’s a straight-six, so why wouldn’t it? It’s composed, too, and it has a good ride but slightly looser body control and more vague steering than the Porsche would have made the Cayman our choice. 

Remove the Cayman’s soulful, responsive naturally aspirated engine from the equation, though – as Porsche just has – and that could shift the balance of power. Hopefully, we’ll soon find out on the same road, on the same day. Meantime, be assured that, even in isolation, an M2 is a hugely appealing proposition.

BMW M2 

Location Malaga; On sale April; Price £44,070; Engine 6 cyls, 2979cc, turbocharged, petrol; Power 365bhp at 6500rpm; Torque 369lb ft at 1450-4750rpm; Gearbox 6-spd manual; Kerb weight 1570kg; 0-62mph 4.5sec; Top speed 155mph (limited); Economy 33.2mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 199g/km, 36%

Join the debate

Comments
26

13 April 2016
As a daily driver, which one would you have? Is the M2 worth the investment ( and the lengthy waiting list that it will definitely have ) as an everyday, non-track car?

 

 

13 April 2016
tuga wrote:

As a daily driver, which one would you have? Is the M2 worth the investment ( and the lengthy waiting list that it will definitely have ) as an everyday, non-track car?

I would have raised a similar question myself.

I wonder how it will handle in the autumn / winter UK roads with that extra rear end power. Hence does it justify the extra £15k above the Ford Focus RS, VWGolf R and as you have mention M235i

Noting that the Focus RS is also going to be scarce over the next 12 months.

13 April 2016
vrskeith wrote:
tuga wrote:

As a daily driver, which one would you have? Is the M2 worth the investment ( and the lengthy waiting list that it will definitely have ) as an everyday, non-track car?

I would have raised a similar question myself.

I wonder how it will handle in the autumn / winter UK roads with that extra rear end power. Hence does it justify the extra £15k above the Ford Focus RS, VWGolf R and as you have mention M235i

Noting that the Focus RS is also going to be scarce over the next 12 months.

I would like to see this go up against the Ford Focus RS and Cayman. Would be an interesting group test.

13 April 2016
or V8 Mustang and £10k change..

13 April 2016
Citytiger wrote:

or V8 Mustang and £10k change..

Trick question right?

14 April 2016
winniethewoo wrote:
Citytiger wrote:

or V8 Mustang and £10k change..

Trick question right?

Not at all, Ugly overpriced BMW, with fake engine noise pipped through speakers and a cheap interior, or an iconic V8 Mustang with real engine noise a cheap interior and £10k change, I suspect for 90% of the time the Mustang would be more fun to drive, it may not be as good dynamically, but anyone who drives to the cars limits on public roads wants locking up anyway, and there is that smug feeling you get from knowing its not a BMW and you have £10k in the bank to spend on petrol..

13 April 2016
I am also curious on whether it's worth the jump from M235i to M2.

Not sure if the M2 is £10k more car considering they have very similar engines and same seats.

This is ignoring any potential discounts on the M235i I managed 2.5k off mine around launch time that was built to my exact specs.

and I know someone who got nearer 12k of her one from buying one in the system (I believe she was counting options etc).

Also last time I spoke to BMW about the M2 they said it was an 18 month waiting list.

That's saying I'm sure someone will do this comparison sooner rather than later

13 April 2016
tomy90 wrote:

I am also curious on whether it's worth the jump from M235i to M2.

Not sure if the M2 is £10k more car considering they have very similar engines and same seats.

This is ignoring any potential discounts on the M235i I managed 2.5k off mine around launch time that was built to my exact specs.

and I know someone who got nearer 12k of her one from buying one in the system (I believe she was counting options etc).

Also last time I spoke to BMW about the M2 they said it was an 18 month waiting list.

That's saying I'm sure someone will do this comparison sooner rather than later

Sorry, your friend got £12,000 off a new M235i? I find that somewhat hard to believe! I've just got nearly 5k off a new near £30k sporting car thanks to dealer contributions and my friend is a sales manager there so £12k on a desirable car sounds a bit too much to me!

13 April 2016
Matt oh Matt, the M2 does NOT have the option of adjustable dampers. It will have an M-Performance option of manual adjustment later.

ACW

13 April 2016
I'm not sold on the looks of the latest M cars. The M4 looks enormous and vulgar on the road and I'm sure this is no different. I love the technical side but would not be happy waking to those looks each morning.

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