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.