What is it?
Here’s how it goes, then. I’m not sure I’d ever seen it written down like this before but I suppose it’s obvious.
BMW M division cars have a clear hierarchy: CS models sit at the top, then Competition models (like this one is), then high-performance models (those badged just M2, M3, whatever) and then M Performance models (such as the M235i).
It’s the first time I’ve seen it presented like that, but, as ever more CS and Competition models arrive, perhaps BMW feels it needs clarifying, given the increasing number and diverse types of M car it would like to sell.
This one, then, is the M2 Competition, which, despite that hierarchy, simply replaces the standard M2, rather than adds to it, as with the M4 and M5. And when BMW announced it, at around £3000 more than the standard car (still sub-£50k), it looked like a rather enticing package.
Basically, it now has the engine from the M3 and M4 in the front of it, so a twin-turbo unit rather than the single-turbo one that has been in the M2 since its launch in 2016. It’s slightly detuned to 404bhp, rather than the 425bhp that it arrives with in the M3 and M4.
The front-mounted inline six-cylinder unit drives through either a six-speed manual or seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission (we tried both), to an electronically controlled limited-slip differential at the rear, and to the rear wheels. There’s a new exhaust, too, with electronically controlled flaps, for some additional noise, and a petrol particulate filter.
Elsewhere, the M2 Competition is harder, keener and sharper. It gets a wishbone-shaped engine bay brace, and there's a retuned steering map and some rose joints in the rear suspension. Together with tweaks to spring and (passive-only) damper settings and the stability control system, the whole caboodle is said to “improve response” and enable “more progressive on-the-limit” handling.
Other changes are limited. The design alterations at the front are largely about getting more air to the engine’s cooling system, which is bigger than on the previous M2 on account of the additional 40bhp and 62lb ft (total torque is now 405lb ft). Plus, you can have new wheels, optional new M seats and M-ish mirrors. Woo.