From £43,7709
We've finally sampled the brilliant new M2 on British roads. Find out how it fared

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
Nic Cackett
22 April 2016

What is it?

We’ve not long been out of the M2, BMW’s newest, most compact M-variant. Think of this, then, as a brief amendment to my colleague Matt Prior’s typically spot-on first drive.

Why are we driving precisely the same car again? Matt drove it in Spain where the main roads are as smooth as silk; this time, we’ve had a go in the UK where the roads are as lumpy as day-old paella. There’s nothing like 100-odd miles of Welsh Tarmac to gently round off a first impression of a 365bhp coupé.

What's it like?

Still extraordinarily good, really. Crucially, despite the shared chassis components underneath, the M2 needed to feel like its own thing – and it does. Nicely compact in a way the M3/4 isn’t, the car has a knack of zeroing you into the experience. It’s clearly fast, although, Prior’s right: it isn’t an anxious, on-the-brakes, stomach-churning sort of speed; it feels very suited not only to the car, but also to the prospect of delivering all its power on the road.

Chances are you’ll do this a lot, a) because the turbocharged 3.0-litre straight six is exceptionally keen after a mandatory moment of lag, and b) the M2 seems fantastically well controlled. We get here what we’ve often asked for: a passive, sporting suspension set-up tuned by a manufacturer to offer the compromise they think best suits the car.

For my money, for 90% of the time, BMW has nailed it. There’s an unexpectedly wonderful suppleness to the way the M2 (on standard 19in rims) rides. It's taut, but never strangled by the sort of overly tight body control that becomes wearing after an hour spent on Welsh B-roads. Instead, it simmers brightly on its spring travel, feeling animated and ever ready to deliver the kind of agile response you’d expect from such a pithy wheelbase.

The downsides? Well, the six-speed manual isn’t quite as sweet as it ought to be. Personally, I don’t like auto-blippers, especially ones that insist on working even in Comfort mode because sometimes I’m downshifting to gently slow down – it’s one of the pleasures of a do-it-yourself ‘box and not really helped by artificial rev matching.

Also, doubtless by design, the M2 is less handsomely tacked down at high speed than the Competition Pack-kitted M3/4 we tested recently. Although, that said, it never lacks for fluency, and is second only to a Cayman in the communication of its limit. 

Should I buy one?

Certainly there’s nothing to suggest a British buyer shouldn’t. There’s a very real chance – as we hoped there would be – that the cheapest M-car might also be the best. Further testing, not least in the format of a full road test, will sort that out.

Currently though, our first impressions remain overwhelmingly positive – sufficiently so for us to be far more envious of those on the waiting list for an M2 than those who’ve plumped for a 718 Boxster. Which, for now, says it all.

BMW M2

Location Wales; On sale Now; 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
7

22 April 2016
How does the front engine M2 handle differently than a mid engine Cayman? Simple, they handle differently, tell us, write it down.

TS7

22 April 2016
...I'd have an 'AMG' C43 (Estate). Not as much fun, but less youth-orientated and much more subtle. Works in the wet too!

jer

22 April 2016
But this is a different kettle of fish. Autocar reviews like single purpose cars, maybe a tad more than some of the readers. I still think its a lot of money for an ugly cramped 1 series even if its a hoot to drive on the right road.

TS7

22 April 2016
, and I know watcha mean, I'm 'old' and I've got a family. I reserve the right to make my kids puke through g-force in ALL weathers.

jer wrote:

But this is a different kettle of fish. Autocar reviews like single purpose cars, maybe a tad more than some of the readers. I still think its a lot of money for an ugly cramped 1 series even if its a hoot to drive on the right road.

1 May 2016
Fair challenge on price. What new car for the same price would you buy, in this segment? - i.e. Not Mercedes estates

22 April 2016
They might both great to drive, but I'm not sure if the Boxter, a purpose built 2-seater sports convertible and a much smaller car, is a direct rival to the M2 which is based on the coupe version of a cooking hatch, which can actually seat 4 people. That said, I think the M2 looks good.

24 April 2016
"I don’t like auto-blippers, especially ones that insist on working even in Comfort mode because sometimes I’m downshifting to gently slow down"

Did you consider that it is much cheaper to replace brake pads than the clutch? Did you also consider that it is much harder and trickier to control the brake pedal while blipping the throttle and by instead using auto blipping it can save you from crashing because you can focus on the brake pedal? If auto blippers had always been around there would probably be a lot less automatic sports coupes out there right now.

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