Test Drives

BMW M2 Review: Baby Spice



 TKF3977 copyMonterey, USA – The 1 Series M Coupe (or 1M) was a runaway hit that really rocked the world of many car enthusiasts; as far as this author is concerned, the 1M has achieved what many newer-faster-shinier cars aspire to: cult status. It may not have been the fastest or most precise tool in the shed, but it was unapologetically raw and rough around the edges, boldly brash and came across as the engineers’ labour of love. There’s no incongruity involved, because we don’t think fast necessarily equates to fun. In fact, part of the joy in piloting the 1M was how hard the driver had to work to get the best from the car, versus let’s say, most modern sportscar’s propensity for doing most of it for you. People wrongly think that a cult car is as simple as making everything perfect for everybody… well, we beg to differ.

BMW M2 Coupe 069 copy

The new car builds on the 1M’s successful ‘feisty fun’ formula: compact, rear-drive, stick-shift and a storming turbocharged in-line six cylinder as ‘go-juice’. However, the M2 has done away with the 1M’s outrageous styling that polarised opinions and unlike the 1M, is available in both seven-speed dual-clutch or six-speed manual. The M2’s sexy, svelte silhouette and subtly flared fenders provide a nice counterpoint to its F82 M4 Coupe big brother, which should see the latest baby ‘M’ appeal to everyone – if the 1M was born from the passions of the engineers, the M2 is clearly a marketeer’s fantasy brought to life and at just the right time. Instead of merely upping engine performance, M has adopted the more holistic weight-loss approach for the M2, which sees the lightweight aluminium suspension and wider track from the M3/M4 used in the car. This sheds unsprung weight and endows the M2 with big grip, precise handling characteristics and feelsome steering that are hallmarks of the better M models.

BMW M2 Coupe344 copyThere’s more to the M2’s 370bhp and 465Nm (500Nm on overboost) than just outright numbers, since M cars aren’t only about straight-line performance. In case you’re wondering, the M235i is rated at 326bhp and 450Nm, while the 1M plays 350bhp and 500Nm on overboost. Our firm favourite, the M235i may be a sporty all-rounder, but it’s still soft around the edges; our laps in the dual-clutch M2 around the legendary Laguna Seca circuit demonstrates M hasn’t lost the plot with its latest track hero. It’s a sweetly balanced package that can really put its power down thanks to the grippy tyres, while the trick Active M Differential works hard to let you carve up corners with scalpel-sharp precision. Of course, we wouldn’t be surprised if a harder-core variant is planned at some point, because the M2’s chassis is clearly gagging for more power.

BMW M2 Coupe340 copy

With the seven-speed M-DCT dual-clutch transmission, the shifts are explosive as you rip up chunks of the track with the staggered fit Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres from one corner to the next around the Laguna Seca track. We only get to sample the manual version during the road-drive, a reasonably winding series of roads from the track to Big Sur. Like the M3/M4 stick-shift models, the M2 features rev-matching, which will smoothen out shifts for out of practice folks, or those that never got the hang of doing it manually – in either case, the car takes care of it for you..

UW1 0249 copyEmpirically, the M2 is technically superior to the 1M in almost every way with stupendous mechanical grip and ease of throttle adjustability (such is the nature of evolution) and we’re sure it will become M’s next ‘It’ car, especially for folks who need to know they are in a machine that’s leaner, tighter and faster than its predecessor. In a time where modern performance cars boast over-assistance, over-powered and over-everything, it’s easy to see how cars like the latest F87 M2 have generated such an electrifying buzz with its back-to-basics driving appeal. – STORY: DAVID KHOO / PHOTOS: BMW
BMW M2 Coupe319 copyBMW M2
Engine 2,979cc, 24V, in-line 6, turbocharged
Power 370bhp at 6500rpm
Torque 465Nm at 1400-5560rpm
Gearbox 7-speed dual-clutch
Top Speed 250km/h
0-100km/h 4.3 seconds
Fuel efficiency 7.9L/100km
CO2 185g/km
Price TBA
Availability By H1 2016

about the author

David Khoo
Contributing editor David Khoo helms CarBuyer's sister magazine, Top Gear Singapore. If it's rare, exotic, or smells like ham, he's probably touched it, driven it, and sniffed it inappropriately.