BMW took the decision to announce the arrival of the £122,000 M4 GTS to the world about a week before it revealed details for this car, but you could make a particularly strong argument that this is one of its most important vehicles in years: it’s the M2, the full-on range-topper for the 2 Series line-up and a machine that is slap bang on BMW’s historic brand message.
The German horsepower war has been raging for decades and the result is a wholly turbocharged current M Power offering that has seen even the M3 (and, by extension, the new M4) requiring 431hp and 406lb ft just to keep up with rivals. With the M4’s cost spiralling towards £60,000 (before adding some tasty options), it leaves the sort of semi-affordable, compact coupé ground occupied so brilliantly by the E46 M3 back in the early 2000s worryingly vacant. So step forward the M2, a car that has got us very excited indeed here at BMW Car.
Building on the legacy of the sublime 1M Coupé of 2011, the M2 develops the formula for 2016 and beyond. It, like the rest of the M car range, possesses a forced induction engine, its single-blower TwinPower Turbo unit a 3.0-litre straight-six. That’s the same capacity and number of cylinders as you’ll find in either the M235i (with 326hp and 332lb ft) or the aforementioned M3/M4, but BMW says this is an ‘allnew’ engine.
We’d need to see the code numbers to confirm that, because its 2979 cubic capacity is familiar, although the specification is anything but. The turbocharger is integrated into the exhaust manifold for more efficient operation, including faster warm-up times from cold starting, while the M3/M4 parts bin has been raided – yielding up such items as pistons with a top ring optimised for the use of grey-cast iron liners, uprated crankshaft main bearing shells and the high-performance spark plugs with an increased heat rating. The M2’s six-pot motor also gets a ‘secure oil supply’ courtesy of a modified sump and a suction pump to ensure a constant flow of the black stuff, even under the most extreme of track driving.
This all-aluminium powerplant also features a closed-deck design for higher cylinder pressures and increased output, while it includes the usual array of Double-Vanos and Valvetronic technologies. To satisfy the green brigade, Auto Start Stop and Brake Energy Regeneration team up with intelligent energy management of the ancillaries to save fuel wherever possible. To satisfy the much more important petrolhead brigade, the exhaust system features an electronically-controlled flap to ramp up the noise factor under heavy throttle use. Very nice.
The on-paper results speak for themselves. The M2, available with either a six-speed manual gearbox or a seven-speed dual-clutch DCT (both capable of rev-matching on downshifts), punts out a meaty 370hp at 6500rpm and 343lb ft from just 1400rpm out to a weirdly specific 5560rpm; a time-limited overboost function sees the torque swell to 369lb ft – the same as an E39 M5, remember – from 1450 to 4750rpm. Yes, the heartily cynical could still point out that there’s a hot hatchback making more power than this (and, worse still, it wears a three-pointed star), but let’s be fair, the M2 is a bit more special than a warmed-up shopping trolley.
Opt for the DCT gearbox if you want the very best performance from your M2. While the electronically limited top speeds of 155mph as standard or 168mph for the M Driver’s Package-equipped versions are exactly the same, the DCT car is more efficient and more accelerative than the manual one. The six-speed M2 does 0-62mph in 4.5 seconds, returns 33.2mpg and emits 199g/km CO². The DCT trims 0.2 seconds from that to record 4.3 seconds all in (thanks, in the main, to Launch Control), while raising the combined economy to 35.8mpg and dropping emissions to 185g/km. It can also check off 50-75mph in fifth in a mere 4.4 seconds.
More than that, the DCT comes with the same Stability Clutch Control (SCC) as seen on the M4 GTS, which can disengage the clutches in the transmission to prevent oversteer and keep the car more stable, although it’s the fantastically named ‘Smokey Burnout’ mode we like the sound of. This allows the ‘driver to indulge in a degree of rear wheel spin while the car is moving at low speeds’ and we’ve quoted BMW verbatim there; pride over such engineered-in hooliganism is to be heartily applauded.
Like the M3/M4, the rear sub-frame of the M2 is bolted directly to the chassis, doing away with rubber bushes and supposedly leading to more accurate handling. We’ll have to reserve judgment on this for now, as the same feature on the M4 makes for wildly different dynamic characters: the bigger BMW is astonishingly capable on glass-smooth race tracks but pretty hairy on bumpier Tarmac as a result, and we’re hoping the M2 doesn’t fall into the same trap.
Nevertheless, its chassis make-up looks hugely promising. It has the 100 per cent locking Active M Differential, aluminium front and rear axles, forged 19-inch aluminium alloys (running on Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres, 245/35 ZR19 front, 265/35 ZR19 rear), an M Dynamic Mode (MDM) in the Dynamic Stability Control (DSC) system, two-setting M Servotronic steering and high-performance M compound brakes. These are 380mm front, 370mm rear discs gripped by, respectively, four- and twopiston blue-painted callipers. Not only do these brakes promise to provide excellent stopping power, their lightweight construction reduces both unsprung and rotating masses to the benefit of road-holding.
Where the M2 absolutely aces it is on the aesthetic. A lot of the styling is tried-and-tested M Division stuff – twin-slat kidney grilles, big front air intakes, bulging wheelarches and a fatter body, quad exhausts and a stocky stance – yet that doesn’t mean the M2 is predictably dull. In fact, we think it looks sensational. The proportions are just about perfect and it has a sense of purpose not seen since the E46 M3; BMW itself makes bold mention of the Hofmeister kink and even a ‘shark-nose’ front end in the associated bumf. Choose from four colours, either the Long Beach blue metallic you can see here, or Alpine white, black Sapphire or Mineral grey alternatively. Sadly, there’s no sign of the Valencia orange, which was the 1 Series M Coupé’s signature hue.
The interior is an M-logoed update of the 2 Series’ already-excellent cabin, featuring plenty of blue stitching, a bespoke steering wheel, new dials, Alcantara for the doorcards and a smattering of carbon-effect trim. Expect the M2 to come with a full suite of connectivity options and plenty of standard equipment, as is befitting of a flagship model, including the Navigation Professional system, the Professional Media Package and xenon headlights. At this point, we’d like to expand on two apps found in the ConnectedDrive systems. The first is the GoPro app, allowing a driver to record their hot ontrack laps with a dashboard-mounted camera, and control it using iDrive and the Control Display. In a similar vein, the M Laptimer app presumably does what it says on the tin but it also analyses a driver’s individual style at the wheel, while data about speeds and braking points can be shared easily via email and social media. Now you can actually prove you did that Porsche Cayman GTS on the brakes into Galgenkopf.
More pragmatically, the M2 will come with the option of Driving Assistant – featuring Collision Warning, Pedestrian Warning with City Braking function and Lane Departure Warning – as well as traffic sign recognition, a rear-view camera with standard Park Distance Control at the back and the choice of upgrading the standard-fit sat-nav to the Professional software and mapping.
At a starting point of £44,070 on-the-road, the new M2 slots neatly between the £35,075 required to place your backside in a basic M235i and the £57,055 entry point of the non-DCT M4. It suddenly looks conspicuously good value when stacked up against that aforementioned hot hatch from Stuttgart, which will never have the sort of driver interactivity a rear-wheel drive coupé possesses.
The M235i is a fine performance coupé as it is but we’ve all been waiting for the M2 since… well, since the 1M slipped out of production. BMW talks about the M2 being able to trace its lineage back through the E30 M3 to the 2002 Turbo and we find such talk particularly telling; it would appear even Munich seems to consider this more of a spiritual successor to its legendary vehicles than the current M4. And we’re really looking forward to the prospect of time behind the wheel, scheduled to be February 2016, just two months before deliveries start. It might be wrong of us, but we’re already considering the possibility of an M2 CSL. Imagine how good that would be…
It’s the fantastically named ‘Smokey Burnout’ mode we like the sound of…
TECHNICAL DATA F22 M2
TRACK (FRONT/REAR): 1579/1601mm
WEIGHT (EU): 1570kg (1595)
ENGINE: Straight-six, turbocharged
MAX POWER: 370hp at 6500rpm
MAX TORQUE: 343lb ft @ 1400-5560rpm. 369lb ft on overboost from 1450-4750rpm
0-62MPH: 4.5 seconds (4.3)
50-75MPH (5TH GEAR): 4.4 seconds
TOP SPEED: 155mph
ECONOMY: 33.2mpg (35.8)
CO² EMISSIONS: 199g/km (185)
SUSPENSION: Front: Aluminium double-joint
spring strut with M-specific elastokinematics.
Rear: Aluminium five-link axle with
BRAKES: Front: Four-piston floating-callipers with 380mm vented discs. Rear: Double-piston floatingcallipers with 370mm vented discs
STEERING: Electric Power Steering (EPS) with M-specific Servotronic function
TRANSMISSION: Six-speed manual (seven-speed
M DCT optional), Active M Differential
WHEELS: Forged M double-spoke alloys
Front: 9×19-inch. Rear: 10×19-inch
TYRES: Michelin Pilot Super Sport Front: 245/35 ZR19. Rear: 265/35 ZR19
PRICE (OTR): £44,070