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.
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%