I’m reliably informed that we will see a summer at some point in the UK this year – hopefully when I’m on my camping holiday – but I’m not going to be holding my breath while I wait for it to arrive. It’s a particularly British thing to be talk incessantly about the weather and given the recent political upheaval it’s one of the few topics that remains relatively uncontroversial…
As well as being a safe topic of conversation the weather has a pretty direct bearing on my job at times, as when planning each issue’s cover shoot one prays for fine weather. Sometimes it’s possible to rearrange things but when one’s talking about a car that’s as in demand as the M2 once a date’s in the diary one has to stick to it. The reason I mention this is that the Alpine white M2 you can see here needs to be en route to BMW’s stand at the Goodwood Festival of Speed by the end of the day and the forecast for the day is looking decidedly dodgy. Look at one weather site and the south coast is looking nice and sunny but look at another and thunderstorms are forecast for the same location…
Thus snapper Gus Gregory and I have bowled up at BMW UK’s HQ nice and early in the day to give us as much chance as possible to get some meaningful images before the heavens open. At this early hour of the morning the M2 is a sight for sore eyes. Not only does the car look great in Alpine white and a welcome change from the almost de rigueur Long Beach blue launch colour, but it’s really sparkling in the early morning light. BMW’s detailers have given it a real going over in preparation for its Goodwood duties and I feel somewhat guilty that they’re going to have to do it all over again later in the day. Then there’s the fact that this machine has been treated to virtually the entire catalogue of M Performance accessories – they’re subtle but certainly add to the car’s road presence but we don’t dwell on them too much to start with as we need to hit the road and reach the south coast before either the morning rush hour or the threatening weather sets in.
Firing up an M2 is always a pleasurable experience and that’s particularly true of this example as it’s equipped with the M Performance exhaust that briefly makes its presence felt as the revs flare up, but after a couple of seconds it’s into its busy idle with a hint of menace emanating from the car’s rear end – a noise that’s significantly enhanced if you drop the driver’s window a touch. Gregory’s going to be following my in my diesel Passat so there’s little point in indulging in any early morning back road heroics so we settle into a decent cruise safe in the knowledge that there should be plenty of time to delve into the car’s performance envelope later in the day.
I know plenty of people who feel the need to drive test cars everywhere like their pants are on fire but personally I find it much more rewarding to sample a car in the way that you’d normally drive it. The fact of the matter is that the roads are too congested and have too many cameras these days to drive everywhere as if you’d stolen it so you get a far better impression of what a car’s like from an ownership point of view if you make sure you get it to do the mundane tasks as well as the out of the ordinary ones. With a modern day M car it should almost be a given that it’ll be quick as mustard and will entertain, but what will it be like as an everyday prospect? Will the ride loosen your teeth? Will a hyperactive throttle response make it a pain to drive in slow moving traffic? Will you be having to stop ever hour to replenish the fuel tank?
In this respect the M2 passes the everyday trudgery test with flying colours. Yes, the ride is firm, but it’s very well judged, being the perfect compromise and not at all uncomfortable, an impressive feat as this machine is equipped with the M Performance coilover set up. Then there’s the M Performance exhaust which on a constant throttle is more or less the same as the standard car’s set up. I didn’t get my decibel meter out, but it’s in no way overly loud or unpleasant. It is a little more vocal when you ask the car to pick up speed, but it doesn’t drone at all, just a subtle increase in volume. And like the standard M2, this M Performance kitted example is really pretty economical for a 370hp rocket, indicating that we’re currently returning getting on for 35mpg. I’m pretty confident I’ll be able to significantly lower that latter figure later in the day, but for the time being it gives a good indication as to what a great all rounder the M2 is.
In typical fashion the photoshoot gods have lulled me into a false sense of security and about 10 miles shy of the south cost the skies open and we’re treated to one of those brief but entertaining summer thunderstorms that soaks the roads but doesn’t last too long. By the time we reach the sea it’s stopped and thanks to the ministrations of BMW’s valeters the water and dirt the paintwork’s accumulated wipes off in no time and Gus gets about his business of positioning the car for pictures.
As is often the case this gives me a chance to have a proper look at the items the car’s been equipped with and while I’ve seen a fully tricked up M2 on motor show stands this is the first time I’ve been able to properly look at the car under natural light and more normal surroundings. It makes most sense to start from the front which means that the black kidney grilles are the first thing to catch your eye – I never used to be a big fan of these but the more cars you see fitted with them the better they seem to look, and on a white car that’s virtually devoid of any chrome they do look the part.
Unlike the majority of the tuning companies who I suspect will offer a carbon fibre front lower spoiler trim BMW’s M Performance carbon front sections are actually a couple of little winglets, for want of a better word, that attach to the extreme edges of the spoiler assembly. They look quite neat and have obviously been extensively tested by BMW to ensure they’re aerodynamically efficient but I can’t help but feel they look a little awkward. There’s no doubting the quality of the parts, but they don’t seem to quite gel with the shape of the car to my mind. No doubt they’ll be considerably less vulnerable than a carbon front spoiler extension would be, and while these type of parts always look great in the showroom the thought of attaching a very expensive piece of trim to the lowest part of the car’s forward extremity does seem to be asking for trouble.
Moving along the side we have a pair of black side bars that fit on the car’s gills where the side repeaters are located, and like the black kidneys these look just about spot on to my eyes, as do the carbon mirror caps. Towards the rear of the sills are a set of side attachments that fit in front of the rear wheels and these ape the design of the front attachments, although they seem to integrate rather better with the car’s shape as far as I’m concerned.
It’s at the rear that things start to get really interesting though as there’s quite a lot going on back here. One’s eyes are at first drawn to the carbon lip spoiler that sits a top the bootlid. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a sucker for a sliver of carbon fibre sitting where the standard rather apologetic rear spoiler normally sits and the M Performance one for the M2 looks to be perfectly judged in terms of size and with the lovely carbon weave showing through it looks very sexy. Once you’ve taken that in your eyes are inevitably drawn down to the carbon rear diffuser and exhaust system and both items do look utterly stunning – if I owned and M2 they’d be going on the car straightaway. The exhaust has too different modes – Sport and Track – that can be switched between with the aid of a Bluetooth controller that fits in one of the front cup holders. The Track mode isn’t homologated for road use, but it has to be said that it sounds divine in action. Loud but without being overly intrusive and it makes a great companion to a back road blast as I’m about to find out now that Gus has all the statics and detail shots in the bag.
We head off towards the back roads on the South Downs and manage to get our cover shot in the bag before the heavens open again. Now that I’m able to let the M2 off the leash on these less congested and more entertaining roads the exhaust and suspension upgrade start to make their presence felt. I love the switchable nature of the exhaust – it’s a modicum louder than the standard system when in Sport mode, and if you really want to announce your arrival then you simply have to press the button to unleash Track mode… a little puerile perhaps, but very entertaining nonetheless.
It’s perhaps the suspension that impresses most – it’s a fully adjustable coilover set up with height adjustment and 16 settings for rebound and 12 for compression which should mean that there’s a decent range of settings to suit different driver’s styles and preferences as well as differing road conditions in different parts of the country. In the set up we try it in the car’s sitting at the lowest of its possible ride heights and has been set up quite aggressively and there does seem to be a better feel to the whole package than on the standard M2. The normal M2 has impressive steering for an electric set up but with the M Performance suspension it seems even more eager to turn-in and where in the normal M2 there’s not quite as much feel as you might like in this machine there definitely more coming back through the steering wheel.
Just as I’m really starting to enjoy myself inevitably the heavens open once again and this time the rain’s somewhat more persistent and leaves the roads with a slick surface just as we’re going to embark on the cornering shots. The section of road we’re using flows up and down a steep hill running through trees and with some fallen leaves thrown into the mix with the rain it feels quite slippery. The M2 coped with it admirably though, and the chassis changes seem to have really tied the car down and after a few moderate runs I’m able to really put the hammer down and revel in the confidence the upgraded chassis is giving me.
It flows up the hill with real purpose, responding perfectly to every little input from the steering wheel and all the while the exhaust’s bellowing its approval with its strident note ricocheting off the hills and trees. Dropping down the hill the standard brakes seem more than up to the job of providing excellent retardation time after time and the car’s rev matching facility makes swapping cogs an absolute doddle. I’m really rather disappointed when Gus signals he’s got the images in the bag and that I can return to saner speeds once again. Of all the upgrades on the car, it’s probably the suspension that leaves the best impression on me – surprising perhaps as you can’t even see it, but it’s made a very tidy handler even better and one you can really rely on to give linear responses letting you know exactly what it’s going to do in any given situation.
For once the arrival of some rain wasn’t the disaster it usually is as it really did give me a chance to feel what the M Performance M2 will feel like in typical British driving conditions. The car passed the test with flying colours… and as we pull back into BMW UK’s Farnborough HQ in plenty of time for the car to head off to Goodwood I can’t help but reflect that BMW’s done a fine job with the upgrades for this car. Yes, some of them are quite expensive, but you don’t have to fit them all and you don’t have to fit everything at the same time either. Cherry pick from the list on page 38 and you’ll really be able to enjoy BMW’s best pocket rocket since the E30 M3.
There does seem to be a better feel to the whole package than on the standard M2.
TECHNICAL DATA BMW F87 M2
ENGINE: Straight-six, 24-valve, turbocharged
MAX POWER: 370hp @ 6500rpm
MAX TORQUE: 343lb ft @ 1400-5560rpm
0-62MPH: 4.5 seconds
TOP SPEED: 155mph
WEIGHT (EU): 1570kg
Firing up an M2 is always a pleasurable experience and that’s particularly true of this example.
|BMW F87 M2 M Performance Accessories|
|M PERFORMANCE ACCESSORY||PART PRICE (INC VAT)||APPROXIMATE FITTING TIME|
|HIGH-GLOSS BLACK KIDNEY GRILLES||£19 500||1 hour|
|CARBON FRONT ATTACHMENTS||£87 400||30 minutes|
|BLACK SIDE BARS||£10 500||15 minutes|
|CARBON SIDE ATTACHMENTS||£88 200||30 minutes|
|SIDE SILL DECAL||£1 670||10 minutes|
|CARBON DOOR MIRROR COVERS||£39 900||30 minutes|
|CARBON REAR SPOILER||£38 600||30 minutes|
|CARBON REAR DIFFUSER||£88 000||20 minutes|
|M PERFORMANCE EXHAUST, CARBON TRIMS||£2,90000||1 hour, 30 minutes|
|M PERFORMANCE EXHAUST, TITANIUM TRIMS||£2,60000||1 hour, 30 minutes|
|M PERFORMANCE SPORTS CHASSIS||£2,20000||7 hours, 30 minutes|
|STAINLESS STEEL PEDALS AND FOOTREST||£20 900||1 hour|
|M PERFORMANCE LED DOOR SILL COVERS||£14 900||15 minutes|
|LED DOOR PROJECTOR LIGHTS||£9 450||15 minutes|
|NEW PRODUCTS AVAILABLE FROM JULY (NOT SHOWN)|
|M PERFORMANCE PRO STEERING WHEEL||£64 900||30 minutes|
|CARBON STEERING WHEEL TRIM (OPTIONAL)||£28 300|
|INTERIOR KIT||£38 900||25 minutes|
|(gear selector, gear selector lower trim and handbrake handle) for vehicles with M DCT. All prices quoted include VAT and are for parts only. Fitting costs will vary. Please contact your preferred BMW Centre for more information.|