The new BMW M2 is still not finished? What’s taking so long?
Probably crisis meetings deep in the Munich headquarters to wonder what they will do with the grids.
Even through the disguised wrap, we can see that the new M2 appears to have relatively normal, respectable, and non-gross nostrils in the middle of its face. Is it allowed for a new BMW? Will they graft on a i7 face transplant at the last minute? Time will tell us.
The new 2-Series is a pretty bumpy thing, with a huge power bulge in the very base 220i’s bonnet, chunky flanks and angular detailing. It looks like the M2 will double down on this, although the arches are pumped up and the tracks look wider than the M240iwhich is a good sign.
And below, is it a heated M240i or a diluted M4?
The latter, but it was not diluted much.
If you know your BMWs, you’ll know the current 2-series coupe is now a coupe Series 4instead of a stretched and lowered 1 Seriesbecause the 1 Series is now dull front-wheel drive VW Golf rival and BMW wanted its small two-door to retain rear-wheel drive and an inline-six engine.
So, by shrinking a 3/4 series down to a 2 series size, the recipe for the M2 becomes a bit predictable. We have the same 3.0-liter twin-turbo six-cylinder engine as the M4 (good for around 450 horsepower), rear-wheel drive (no xDrive 4×4 is even optional), steel brakes only (to keep the reasonably priced) and a choice of six-speed manual or eight-speed automatic transmissions.
What changed then?
BMW admits the new M2 is heavier than the old M2 and M2 Competition, as it’s a physically larger car, it has adaptive suspension for the first time and there’s a huge amount of new stiffening beams and struts of the body below the surface to allow said suspension to do its job better while the chassis does not twist upside down.
Yes, it’s disappointing that BMW has gone from a diligent hunt for the weight of M cars to just using power and technology to circumvent the problem. But the M2 does not feel too soft on first impression. And who would bet against a lighter M2 SC or even a CSL in a few years?
If gaining weight is a pet peeve for you, then rest assured optional carbon fiber roof, optional carbon racing seats complete with an irritating gutter bulge between your legs, and knowing that the lightest M2 has three pedals and a stick between the seats…
Enough specs. Does it look like a real small sports car?
The main thing you learn from the eight laps of the Salzburgring is “it’s pretty but I wouldn’t like to fall here”. Luckily, the M2 is a friendly place to learn a circuit you’ve never driven before, even one so covered in pollen that the wake clouds look like smoke from an aerobatic team. Erk.
Let’s review what we can say with certainty about the new M2. As you can imagine, the M3-ish engine has incredibly wild throttle response and deep reserves of torque. The car feels fast, but not as fast as a M4which is obviously quite deliberate, to avoid upsetting buyers of the big boy.
What’s crucial is to avoid the engine being artificially held back – to feel the ECU say “enough, get off until you’ve saved for the next model”. At first glance, BMW is doing well. The sound is authentic as you would expect for straight singing through the speakers. Maybe a little less flatulent than the current M3 and M4, but there’s still one final tweak to follow.
The turn and the front end are sensational. It’s just nailed to the track and is as alien to the concept of understeer as “good taste” is to a X7 Buyer. Now, some will find this disturbing – for example, Paul Horrell, Top Gear’s Brain Cell Keeper prefers cars that understeer a little early, so you’re hoping to detect when the front axle is about to run out of grip. If you’re the same, you might not get along with the M2, which changes direction like a racing drone and sticks so hard through the fast stuff you can feel your neck tightening to keep your body united at your head.
Send the M2 through the chicane and it’s pert, nimble and brilliantly chuckable. You get a hefty dollop of oversteer in the Dynamic M mode, but it won’t let you spin. Apparently. There’s enough room for misbehavior, and brilliantly judged. The baby car M encourages you to laugh. And the steel brakes don’t boil after a U-turn – a far cry from the M car brakes of yore.
And the gearbox? Well, the eight-speed is professional and gracious, but the downshifts are a bit sluggish and it lacks the motorsport savvy of the old DCT. The manual is by no means as mechanically astute as a Caiman, Emira or even a Civic Type R, but the semi-light shifting suits the M2’s pugnacious, high and you character perfectly. And as the last M car likely to have a gearshift option, we’d just use it for end-of-an-era vibes.
What didn’t you like about the new M2? Pintillons.
Agree: The digital screens look like someone left a shelf of Kindles on the windshield, and most of the graphics are unintelligible. Alright, do the silly stuff, but at least offer an option to render some classic M car dials – like Audi, Mercedes, Porsche and so on. BMW has really kicked itself in the nuts with the cheap graphics.
The weight is a shame, and so is the overall size: what we loved about the latest M2 was how much it looked – and was – like a small car with a huge power tower stuffed under the hood. And if we had to put money on it, we would have a dozen on this generation of M2 not as pretty as the previous one.
But this – like the Toyota GR86the new manual Suprathe Lotus Emira and the Alpine A110 — is one of those cars that’s likely to be put in the “we’re just glad it exists” folder, because it just won’t be for much longer. These are heady days for sports cars. We look forward to driving the finished product as soon as possible.
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