BMW introduced the 1 Series M Coupe in 2011. The world loved it as it brought back memories of the original M car- the E30 BMW M3. What made it so special was its simplicity. The 1M Coupe was a modern incarnation of a purely analogue sports car with the engine in the right place and rear-wheel drive.
Sadly, the excitement was short-lived as BMW decided to build a limited number of 1M Coupes. Two years later, BMW shuffled their model lineup and introduced the 2 Series. Those who missed out on owning one of the greatest BMWs of all time could now have the M235i. Not as exciting as the 1M Coupe but still properly quick.
The M235i was never meant to be a proper M car though. That distinction goes to the BMW M2.
But, can it be regarded as a true 1M Coupe successor?
Well, let’s find out.
BMW M2 Exterior
The first thing you notice about the BMW M2 is its sporty stance. The wider track and muscular bodywork give it a macho look because underneath it uses the chassis from the M3/M4.
The unmistakable M body kit includes new front and rear bumpers with enlarged vents up front and an equally masculine setup at the rear. A bold shoulder line extends from an air-breather just behind the front fenders. 19-inch rims are standard on the M2 which certainly adds to the visual appeal.
Swollen wheel arches, just the right amount of vents and creases make a bold statement. It definitely has the presence of a true M car. But, does it drive like one? We shall soon find out. But, before that here’s how it’s like on the inside.
First things first, the cabin of the BMW M2 is just like a normal 2 Series barring a few details. The fit and finish are immaculate as is with any BMW product. A three-spoke M-steering wheel greets you when you hop in. Special M-dials make up the instrument cluster. You will also notice the M-specific gear lever.
Being the flagship 2 Series model, the M2 gets loads of standard features. These include an 8.8-inch display with Professional Navigation and Professional Media package as standard.
This vehicle also comes with BMW Connected Drive features designed specifically with track driving in mind. The M Laptimer registers your lap times around a racetrack so that you can brag about it later. A GoPro video app is a great tool for those looking to record their on-track shenanigans from every angle possible.
While the M2 does have a pair of rear seats, it’s not the most comfortable place to be in on a long journey. That said since it’s based on a 2 Series, the boot is quite capacious. With 390 litres of luggage space and folding rear seats, it’s definitely a more practical alternative.
But, one doesn’t buy an M car for a weekend trip to the local TESCO. It’s a performance car that will make your hair stand on end. It’s a fast car and here’s why.
Engine and Performance
The BMW M2 rocks a 3.0-liter in-line 6-cylinder M TwinPower Turbo engine. This turbocharged unit develops 370 hp at 6500 rpm and a peak torque of 465 Nm at 1400-5560 rpm. The engine has an over boost function which provides a short burst of 35 Nm. Like the 1M Coupe which borrowed a lot of its parts from the M3, the M2 benefits from components carried over from the M3/M4.
Now, in a world where dual-clutch transmissions are becoming the norm, it’s hard to find a sports car with a proper manual. The BMW M2 is one the few which comes with a 6-speed manual gearbox as standard. A more sophisticated 7-speed M DCT dual-clutch is still available as an option but fellow petrolheads would agree- there’s no better way to enjoy a well-sorted out chassis than with a stick-shift. The manual does get an auto-rev match function as well.
Now, like I said, the M2 does use a lot of parts from the M3/M4 bin. Nowhere is it more evident than the chassis. The M2 sits wider compared to the standard 2 Series. A 71mm increase in rear track and 64 mm up front not only makes it look planted but it feels so when you throw it around corners. Suspension components including control arms and wheel carriers have also been beefed up. The chassis is further bolstered with strut braces. Also, the rear subframe is bolted directly to the monocoque.
BMW’s Active M Differential is standard. This electronically controlled limited-slip differential is the same unit found on the M3/M4. M Compound steel brakes found on the M2 are designed with the intention of reducing unsprung mass and improving stopping performance over standard steel rotors. 19-inch lightweight alloy wheels come wrapped in 245/35 R19 tires up front and 265/35 R19 at the rear.
Wider rear tires aid traction when doing standing starts. With launch control engaged the M2 will do 0-100 km/hr in 4.5 sec, while the M-DCT equipped M2 will reach the same speed in 4.3 sec. The M2 will do 250 km/hr before hitting an electronic limiter. However, M2 owners can get the limiter raised to 270 km/hr by checking the box next to the optional M Driver’s Package.
The base price of the BMW M2 Coupe in Ireland is €77,520 and you can book a test drive at Murphy & Gunn BMW here.
So, the big question remains- does it feel like a spiritual successor to the 1M Coupe? Well, over the years, M cars have grown bulkier and are downright complicated to operate, especially with a zillion custom modes for the suspension, gearbox, steering, etc. I loved the 1M Coupe for its simplicity. The M2 does try to capture some of the essences of the 1M. The chassis is at the core of any M car and the M2 is blessed with one the greatest of them all.
I certainly miss BMW’s naturally aspirated 6-bangers but the M2’s turbocharged motor is no slouch either. It may not sound as good as an E46 M3 at full chat but it definitely has the performance to match.
Despite being the cheapest M car in the range, it offers intense driving pleasure. In fact, I personally would pick one over an M4.
The BMW M2 is a great sports car, period. But, there are some big names in this segment that offer an equally exciting driving experience. The Porsche 718 Cayman S with its mid-engine balance will certainly put a smile on your face. That said, the Cayman is so focused on being a driver’s car that it loses out on practicality. Also, priced at €82,898 it’s quite a bit expensive than the BMW.
Meanwhile, the turbocharged 4-cylinder Audi TTS doesn’t sound as exciting as the 6-pot Bimmer. While it is less expensive than the M2, it isn’t as powerful either.
The M2 then, slots in nicely between two Volkswagen Group cars. The only drawback of owning such a vehicle is that you have to live with the harsh ride for when you’re just cruising around town.